New Article: ‘Urban Environmental Challenges and Climate Change Action in Durban, South Africa’

Roberts, D. & O’Donoghue, S. (2013). Urban Environmental Challenges and Climate Change Action in Durban, South Africa. Environment and Urbanization. DOI: 10.1177/0956247813500904

Abstract: This paper reflects on the progress made in climate change adaptation in the city of Durban since the launch of the Municipal Climate Protection Programme in 2004. This includes the initial difficulties in getting the attention of key sectors within municipal government, and how this was addressed and also served by the more detailed understanding of the range of adaptation options and their cost-benefits. There is also a better understanding of the potentials and constraints on community-based adaptation and the opposition from some landowners to measures to protect and enhance ecosystem services. The paper ends with lessons learnt that contradict some common assumptions – for instance, what approaches best build support for climate change adaptation within local governments, what measures work and from where lessons can be drawn. It also describes the perhaps unexpected linkages between local action and international influence and highlights the need for international climate change negotiations to recognize the key roles of urban governments in developing locally rooted adaptation and resilience.

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New Report: “Environmental Guidance Note for Disaster Risk Reduction: Healthy Ecosystems for Human Security and Climate Change Adaptation”

Sudmeier-Rieux, K., Ash, N. and Murti, R. (2013). Environmental Guidance Note for Disaster Risk Reduction: Healthy Ecosystems for Human Security and Climate Change Adaptation. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN, 1-34.

Introduction: This note was developed to provide guidance on the benefits of and ways to integrate environmental concerns into disaster risk reduction strategies (DRR) at the local and national levels. As recognised and outlined within the Hyogo Framework for Action priority 4: “Reduce the Underlying Risk Factors”, healthy ecosystems and environmental management are considered key actions in DRR. Although the field of disaster risk management has evolved to recognize the need for addressing sustainable development issues for reducing risk, the environmental dimension has not to date received adequate attention and practical guidance.

The questions we would like to answer with this guidance note are:
• What are healthy ecosystems and why do they matter to disaster risk reduction?
• How can ecosystems contribute to reducing disasters?
• What is ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction?
• How can we integrate ecosystem management and disaster risk management?

The rise in number and intensity of many extreme hydro-meteorological events is increasingly recognized as being the result of global and regional climate change. More broadly and importantly, the underlying risk factors of disasters are increasing: more people are living in vulnerable areas, such as low lying coastal areas, steep hillsides, flood plains, near cliffs, or in forested areas on the outskirts of cities – most often out of necessity, but sometimes out of choice. Environmental degradation is reducing the capacity of ecosystems to meet the needs of people for food and other products, and to protect them from hazards. The people affected by reoccurring disasters are often the most dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods, and the appropriate management of ecosystems can play a critical role in their ability to prevent, cope with, and recover from disasters.

For more information click here.

New Article: “Securing Ocean Benefits for Society in the Face of Climate Change”

Ruckelshaus. M. et al. (2013). Securing Ocean Benefits for Society in the Face of Climate Change. Marine Policy. 40: 154-159.

Abstract: Benefits humans rely on from the ocean – marine ecosystem services – are increasingly vulnerable under future climate. This paper reviews how three valued services have, and will continue to, shift under climate change: (1) capture fisheries, (2) food from aquaculture, and (3) protection from coastal hazards such as storms and sea-level rise. Climate adaptation planning is just beginning for fisheries, aquaculture production, and risk mitigation for coastal erosion and inundation. A few examples are highlighted, showing the promise of considering multiple ecosystem services in developing approaches to adapt to sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and rising sea temperatures.

Ecosystem-based adaptation in fisheries and along coastlines and changes in aquaculture practices can improve resilience of species and habitats to future environmental challenges. Opportunities to use market incentives – such as compensation for services or nutrient trading schemes – are relatively untested in marine systems. Relocation of communities in response to rising sea levels illustrates the urgent need to manage human activities and investments in ecosystems to provide a sustainable flow of benefits in the face of future climate change.

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New Article: ‘Pathways of Integrated Coastal Management from National Policy to Local Implementation: Enabling Climate Change Adaptation’

Celliers, L. et al. (2013). ‘Pathways of Integrated Coastal Management from National Policy to Local Implementation: Enabling Climate Change Adaptation. Marine Policy. 39: 72 – 86

Abstract: Integrated coastal management (ICM) has been developing concomitantly with the realisation of the severity of the potential impacts of climate change. The discourse on climate change and adaptation has also included the awareness that adaptation must take place at all levels of government, particularly local government. Climate change is expected to have significant impacts on the physical, social, environmental and economic environments of coastal cities and towns, and in particular on the poor and vulnerable communities within these cities and towns. The crucial role that local government can play in climate protection and building cities’ and communities’ resilience to climate change is widely recognised at the global level. This paper explores the legal and policy connexion between ICM, local government and climate change in Mozambique and South Africa, two developing countries in Africa. The state of institutionalisation of coastal management at national through to local government is also examined. The authors contend that the state, character and maturity of the ICM policy domain can create an enabling environment within which local government agencies can prepare for future impacts of climate change. Conversely it can also limit, delay and hinder climate change adaptation. The paper concludes with the identification of some key success factors for assessing the effectiveness of the existing policy and legal frameworks to respond to the challenges of climate change. It also identifies some key principles to be included in future legislative reform to promote ICM, cooperative governance and greater preparedness for climate change at local government level.

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New Report: ‘Recovery from Disaster: Resilience, Adaptability and Perceptions of Climate Change’

Boon, H.J., Millar, J., Lake, D., Cottrell, A., & King, D. (2012). Recovery from Disaster: Resilience, Adaptability and Perceptions of Climate Change. National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility. Gold Coast.

Abstract: Focused on four disaster-impacted communities: Beechworth and Bendigo (VIC) and Ingham and Innisfail (QLD) this report makes recommendations for emergency management and local government policies.

Disasters disrupt multiple levels of socio-cultural systems in which lives are embedded. The study used Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological systems theory to analyse individual and, by proxy, community resilience. The theory provided a comprehensive framework to evaluate the interacting factors that support resilience across different disaster sites and communities. While Bronfenbrenner’s theory has been used extensively, the authors believe that this is the first time it has been used to model disaster resilience.

The project aimed to:
1) Identify private and public sector groups’ beliefs, behaviours and policies that have supported community resilience to a disaster event;
2) Examine the commonalities of the experience for the four types of disaster and the possible impact of their respective intensities, duration and perceived frequency, as well as how well communities cope with the unexpected;
3) Assess the degree of community resilience in each of four study sites in disaster affected areas; and
4) Construct a model with findings to help implement appropriate and equitable emergency management policies and mitigation strategies for climate change events.

A key hypothesis underpinning the research was that individuals remaining in the disaster impacted communities were likely to be resilient to disaster.

For more information click here.

 

New Article: ‘Cultural Dimensions of Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation’

Adger, N.W. et al. (2013). Cultural Dimensions of Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation. Nature Climate Change. 3: 112-117. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1666

Abstract: Society’s response to every dimension of global climate change is mediated by culture. We analyse new research across the social sciences to show that climate change threatens cultural dimensions of lives and livelihoods that include the material and lived aspects of culture, identity, community cohesion and sense of place. We find, furthermore, that there are important cultural dimensions to how societies respond and adapt to climate-related risks. We demonstrate how culture mediates changes in the environment and changes in societies, and we elucidate shortcomings in contemporary adaptation policy.

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New Article: ‘Women and Climate Change: Strategies for Adaptive Capacity in Mwanga District, Tanzania’

Muthoni, J.W. and Wangui, E.E. (2013). Women and Climate Change: Strategies for Adaptive Capacity in Mwanga District, Tanzania. African Geographical Review. DOI:10.1080/19376812.2012.756766

Abstract:  This paper highlights the role that women in Mangio Village, Mwanga District, Tanzania play in rural livelihoods in the context of a changing climate. Data were collected in 2011 at community, household and individual levels. Methods of data collection included focus group discussions, and in-depth interviews with household members, individuals and key informants. Qualitative data analyses were done using NVIVO software. Results indicate that despite having limited access to livelihood assets compared to men, women play an important role in enhancing the adaptive capacity that Mangio Village has to climate change. Their roles extend from family units to the community level where they contribute in all the major spontaneous and planned strategies that the village has taken up in response to a changing climate among other drivers. Key to women’s contribution is their social networks and the labor required in new activities that enhance adaptation.

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