Adapting to the impacts of climate change is emerging as an international policy imperative. Taking a unique constructivist political ecology approach, the thesis focuses on how adaptation is being conceived as a problem and as a field for research and intervention through identifiable competing ‘adaptation discourses.’ These discourses are traced from the international to the local level where their implications in terms of adaptation project implementation are examined. At the international level, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is examined as a site of discursive negotiation, demonstrating how specific conceptions of ‘adaptation’ gain prevalence and legitimacy. A review of international adaptation finance examines the actors and norms involved in fund distribution and governance. The emergence of adaptation discourse and policy in Peru is taken as a national case. Based on in-depth fieldwork, a local case study of an adaptation project in Cusco demonstrates the concrete implications of the way that adaptation is being conceived. In the case study zone, community members explain climate-related problems and changes through discourses embedded in local Andean, Catholic and Protestant religious views. In contrast, the project promotes a view of climate change as a local, apolitical problem, disarticulated from global processes of all kinds, even obscuring its scientifically-identified causes and the related issue of differentiated responsibility. At all levels analyzed, it is shown that while the conception of adaptation as a social problem (especially, related to ‘underdevelopment’) is gaining prevalence, its conception as a political problem is not. Further, the actors, logics, funding channels, and activities involved in ‘doing development’ are systematically re-employed in ‘doing adaptation.’ The findings raise significant social-justice concerns and suggest that this ‘adaptation-as-development’ may, rather than reduce vulnerability, reinforce historical processes of marginalization and demobilize actors with respect to this socio-(politico-) environmental issue.