New Article: “Alleviating Barriers to Urban Climate Change Adaptation through International Cooperation”

Oberlack, C. & Eisenack, K., 2013. Alleviating Barriers to Urban Climate Change Adaptation through International Cooperation. Global Environmental Change, 1–14.

Abstract: International cooperation on climate change adaptation is regarded as one of the major avenues to reduce vulnerability in developing countries. Nevertheless, it remains unclear which design properties of international arrangements match with specific problems in local adaptation processes. This paper analyses conditions and institutional design options under which international cooperation can facilitate climate adaptation in urban areas in developing countries. We conduct a qualitative meta-analysis of empirical evidence from 23 cases. Using the archetype approach, we identify re-appearing barriers and change factors in urban squatter settlements and municipal public sectors in developing countries. We characterise five generic modes of international cooperation for climate adaptation based on UNFCCC documents, process observation, and literature review. Combining these analyses, we develop testable propositions that explain how specific design options of international arrangements can alleviate barriers and make use of change factors for urban adaptation in developing countries. We find, first, that international cooperation has the most potential to tackle adaptation barriers in squatter settlements if its institutional mechanisms support improvements of procedures and rights in localised state–society interactions. Second, national or regional centres of competence may foster endogenous dynamics in municipal public sectors. Third, national adaptation policies can enable and incentivise municipal adaptation. Fourth, flexible indicators of adaptation benefits are instruments to tailor international decision making and monitoring systems to local needs. We conclude that these insights, the archetypes approach, and a multi-level study design can be used to advance research on international cooperation, barriers, and success factors for climate change adaptation.

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New Article: ‘Déjà Vu or Something New? The Adaptation Concept in the Climate Change Literature’

Bassett, T.J. & Fogelman, C. (2013). Déjà Vu or Something New? The Adaptation Concept in the Climate Change Literature. Geoforum. 48: 42-53.

Abstract: This paper reflects on the resurgence and meaning of the adaptation concept in the current climate change literature. We explore the extent to which the early political economic critique of the adaptation concept has influenced how it is used in this literature. That is, has the current conceptualization been enriched by the political economic critique of the 1970s and 1980s and thus represent something new? Or is the concept used in a way today that echoes previous debates; that is, is this a déjà vu experience? To answer this question, we review the early political economic critique of the natural hazards school’s interpretations of vulnerability and adaptation. We then examine the revival of the adaptation concept in the climate change literature and discuss its main interpretations. For the purposes of this paper, the climate change literature encompasses the four IPCC reports and adaptation-focused articles in four scholarly journals: Global Environmental Change, Climatic Change, Climate and Development, and Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. Our content analysis shows the dominance (70%) of ‘‘adjustment adaptation’’ approaches, which view climate impacts as the main source of vulnerability. A much smaller percentage (3%) of articles focus on the social roots of vulnerability and the necessity for political–economic change to achieve ‘‘transformative adaptation.’’ A larger share (27%) locates risk in both society and the biophysical hazard. It promotes ‘‘reformist adaptation,’’ typically through ‘‘development,’’ to reduce vulnerability within the prevailing system. We conclude with a discussion of continuity and change in the conceptualization of adaptation, and point to new research directions.

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New Article: “‘Climate Finance Issues': Implications for Climate Change Adaptation for Food Security in Southern Africa”

Hofisi, C., Chigavazira, B., Mago, S., Hofisi, M. (2013). “Climate Finance Issues”: Implications for Climate Change Adaptation in Food Security in Southern Africa”. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences. 4(6): 47-53.

Abstract: Global development has been asphyxiated by climate change as evidenced by significant repercussions on the world economy.While agriculture is the backbone of most developing economies in the global south, this sector is extremely vulnerable to climate change. Grim statistics point to a bleak future if the risk posed by climate change is not tackled.The impact of climate change has generally seen precipitation increasing in the Global North while the same has decreased in the Global South resulting in both wetter and drier scenarios. This scenario has meant that global food security is under threat.It is against this background that climate change adaptation becomes significant in averting the climate change induced food crisis. However, the UNFCCC “funding streams” for climate change adaptation strategies have been criticised for being financially and technically inadequate for meeting the adaptation needs of poor countries that are more vulnerable to climate effects. The disbursal of climate change is inefficient and more costly. African countries have also been clamouring for direct access to climate finance. Therefore, the ravaging impact of climate change on global development lingers. While there are debates on climate finance for effective adaptation, the resolution of issues involved is key if the battle against climate change is to be won. It is important that adaptation is mainstreamed in government policies, mainly, in the developing countries for effective financing of climate change adaptation to be realised while the poor and most vulnerable in developing countries should be given priority.

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New Article: “Pathways for Adaptive and Integrated Disaster Resilience”

Djalante, R., Holley, C., Thomall, F., Carnegie, M., (2013). Pathways for Adaptive and Integrated Disaster Resilience. Natural Hazards. 10.1007/s11069-013-0797-5.

Abstract: The world is experiencing more frequent, deadly and costly disasters. Disasters are increasingly uncertain and complex due to rapid environmental and socio-economic changes occurring at multiple scales. Understanding the causes and impacts of disasters requires comprehensive, systematic and multi-disciplinary analysis. This paper introduces recent multidisciplinary work on resilience, disaster risk reduction (DRR), climate change adaptation (CCA) and adaptive governance and then proposes a new and innovative framework for adaptive and integrated disaster resilience (AIDR). AIDR is defined as the ability of nations and communities to build resilience in an integrated manner and strengthen mechanisms to build system adaptiveness. AIDR provides the ability to face complexities and uncertainties by designing institutional processes that function across sectors and scales, to engage multiple stakeholders and to promote social learning. Based on the review of existing academic and non-academic literature, we identify seven pathways to achieve AIDR. These pathways are a conceptual tool to support scholars, policy makers and practitioners to better integrate existing DRR strategies with CCA and more general development concerns. They describe institutional strategies that are aimed at dealing with complexities and uncertainties by integrating DRR, CCA and development; strengthening polycentric governance; fostering collaborations; improving knowledge and information; enabling institutional learning; self-organisation and networking; and provision of disaster risk finance and insurance. We also examine the implications of these pathways for Indonesia, one of the most vulnerable countries to natural hazards and climate change impacts. Our findings suggest that there is an urgent need to commit more resources to and strengthen multi-stakeholder collaboration at the local level. We also argue for placing the community at the centre of an integrated and adaptive approach to DRR and CCA.

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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.

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New Article: “Climate Change: New Dimensions of Environmental Security”

Dalby, S. (2013). Climate Change: New Dimensions of Environmental Security. The RUSI Journal. 158 (3): 34-43.

Abstract: Climate change has added new impetus and urgency to the long-running discussion of environmental security, leading to an emphasis on the overall transformation of planetary systems. In this article, Simon Dalby argues that this requires consideration of three themes in particular: urban vulnerabilities to extreme events; the unforeseen social and political consequences of adaptation and mitigation efforts; and the possibilities of geoengineering. Furthermore, given the increasingly artificial circumstances that the global economy is creating, security planners should now focus on the consequences of further expansion of the carbon-fuelled global economy, rather than on concerns about political instabilities in the rural peripheries caused by resource conflicts.

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New Report: “Global Problems, African Solutions: African Climate Scientists’ Perspectives on Climate Change”

Edwards, L. (2013). Global Problems, African Solutions: African Climate Scientists’ Perspectives on Climate Change. The Centre for International Governance Division (CIGI), Africa Initiative Discussion Paper Series No. 7.

Abstract: This paper offers a preliminary survey of Africa’s climate scientists’ views on the critical problem of climate change, which has been described as an “out of Africa” problem crying out for “made in Africa” solutions. Based on interviews with these scientists, this paper presents their views on the state of African climate science; discusses the challenges of undertaking scientific research in Africa and ways that research could be done better; identifies the impacts of climate change on contemporary African society and its potential impacts in the future; identifies gaps in the current research agenda on energy, urbanization and migration; and explores the links between climate change and other environmental problems, such as water pollution and deforestation. Finally, while Africa’s scientists value their involvement in international scientific assessments, they would welcome more opportunities to collaborate with their peers on the continent, more dialogue with African policy makers and a broader program of public education, to better equip Africans to take practical actions to meet the challenges of climate change.

For more information click here.


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