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.

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New Article: “Democracy and the Environment Revised: The Case of African Fisheries”

Sjöstedt, M. & Jagers, S.C. (2013). Democracy and the Environment Revised: The Case of African Fisheries. Marine Policy. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2013.05.007i.

Abstract: This article develops and test three hypotheses concerning the effects of levels of democracy on levels of overfishing in Sub-Saharan Africa. The results show that the more democratic a country is, the more successful it is in protecting marine environments. However, this effect disappears during turbulent times and periods of rapid political change. The analysis also shows that democracy has a stronger effect on environmental performance than do levels of corruption and government effectiveness.

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New Article: “Facing the Heat: Barriers to Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation in Local Government in the Western Cape Province, South Africa”

Pasquini, L., Cowling, R.M. & Ziervogel, G. (2013). Facing the Heat: Barriers to Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation in Local Government in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. Habitat International. 40: 225-232.

Abstract: Local government represents a key opportunity for implementing local adaptation to the impacts of climate change. The need for adaptation is most urgent in developing countries, yet most research has focused on the barriers to climate change mainstreaming in municipalities of the global North. This paper presents the results of a study that investigated barriers to action on climate change adaptation in eight municipalities in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Forty-seven municipal actors (officials and councillors) were interviewed regarding the experience of their municipality with climate impacts and adaptive actions (focussing on ecosystem-based adaptation), as well as their knowledge and belief on climate change and adaptation issues. Results show that multiple barriers affect the ability of municipalities to mainstream adaptation issues, from individual-level barriers (such as a lack of understanding of climate change and adaptation options) to regulatory/institutional barriers (such as the problems posed by party politics) to socio-cultural barriers (such as a lack of interest within municipal constituencies for climate change issues). These numerous barriers are not significantly different to those encountered so far in municipalities of the developed world, suggesting that across the globe there are common problems that national and provincial governments need to address in order to mainstream climate change adaptation at the local level (such as changing planning and other laws by which local governments operate in order to recognise climate change impacts). Our research draws attention to a couple of under-researched issues, that of the effects of party politics and councillor qualifications on local government operation and performance, and suggests that much further research should address these topics in both developed and developing countries.

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New Article: ‘Crises in the South African Abalone and Chilean Loco Fisheries: Shared Challenges and Prospects’

Hauck, M., & Gallardo-Fernández, G.L. (2013). Crises in the South African Abalone and Chilean Loco Fisheries: Shared Challenges and Prospects. Maritime Studies. 12 (3); 1 -20.

Abstract: Worldwide there is an increasing realisation that there is an inextricable link between the natural and human systems, and there is a need to integrate these into the governance of small-scale fisheries. The critical importance of adopting such an approach is argued in this paper by exploring the challenge of resource over-exploitation in the abalone fishery in South Africa and the loco fishery in Chile, both of which faced unsuccessful fishery closures and the implementation of Territorial Use Rights in Fisheries (TURFs). By exploring similarities and differences in fisheries context and approaches, these case studies highlight that although management strategies have been progressive on paper, they are compromised, to different degrees, by a lack of understanding of the socio-economic and political factors that are influencing the fisheries system. We argue that unless a more integrated approach is adopted to understand the social-ecological system as a whole, few long-term benefits will be secured for both the resources and the livelihoods of fishers.

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