New Article: ‘Climate change adaptation in Denmark: enhancement through collaboration and meta-governance?’

Abstract: This article investigates how Danish municipalities adapt to climate change and how added value can be achieved by a change of governance modes. The article is based on a quantitative survey, a qualitative analysis of 10 municipal climate change adaptation strategies, and interviews with planners from five municipalities. The study shows that adaptation is rather narrowly defined to mainly be about water management and that adaptation planning and implementation takes place in technical departments in the municipalities. Cross-sector collaboration is limited, and so is the involvement of citizens and external resources.

This articles argues that increased collaboration and meta-governance is called for to aid the municipalities in their efforts and open collaboration venues with, for example, professionals from other sectors, researchers, citizens, and companies whose resources have not yet been fully involved, and to stimulate inter-municipal and cross-sectoral collaboration in order to produce adaptation measures with added value.

Full Citation: Hendensted Lund, D. et al. (2012).Climate change adaptation in Denmark: enhancement through collaboration and meta-governance?. Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability: DOI:10.1080/13549839.2012.678318 (Available for download with subscription at:

Table of Contents Alert: Ecology and Society 16 (2)

See below for some of the articles that was published in the latest edition of Ecology and Society 16 (2): Special Edition: The Energy-Water Nexus: Managing the Links between Energy and Water for a Sustainable Future

The Energy–Water Nexus: Managing the Links between Energy and Water for a Sustainable Future

Karen Hussey and Jamie Pittock

Abstract: Water and energy are each recognized as indispensable inputs to modern economies. And, in recent years, driven by the three imperatives of security of supply, sustainability, and economic efficiency, the energy and water sectors have undergone rapid reform. However, it is when water and energy rely on each other that the most complex challenges are posed for policymakers. Despite the links and the urgency in both sectors for security of supply, in existing policy frameworks, energy and water policies are developed largely in isolation from one another—a degree of policy fragmentation that is seeing erroneous developments in both sectors. Examples of the trade-offs between energy and water security include: the proliferation of desalination plants and interbasin transfers to deal with water scarcity; extensive groundwater pumping for water supplies; first-generation biofuels; the proliferation of hydropower plants; decentralized water supply solutions such as rainwater tanks; and even some forms of modern irrigation techniques. Drawing on case studies from Australia, Europe, and the United States, this Special Issue attempts to develop a comprehensive understanding of the links between energy and water, to identify where better-integrated policy and management strategies and solutions are needed or available, and to understand where barriers exist to achieve that integration. In this paper we draw out some of the themes emerging from the Special Issue, and, particularly, where insights might be valuable for policymakers, practitioners, and scientists across the many relevant domains.

National Climate Change Policies and Sustainable Water Management: Conflicts and Synergies

Jamie Pittock

Abstract: Even in the absence of climate change, freshwater ecosystems and the resources they provide for people are under great pressure because of increasing demand for water and declines in water quality. The imminent onset of climate change will exacerbate these impacts, placing even greater pressure on already stressed resources and regions. A plethora of national climate change policies have been adopted that emphasize structural adjustment in the energy sector and increasing carbon sinks. To date, most public debate on water has focused on the direct impacts of climate change on hydrology. However, there is growing evidence that climate change policies themselves may have substantial additional and negative impacts on freshwater resources and ecosystems and may thus result in maladaptation. To avoid such maladaptation, integrated, coordinated policy making is required. In this paper, national climate change policies from Australia, Brazil, China, the European Union (EU), India, Mexico, South Africa, Tanzania, and the United Kingdom are compared to: (i) identify where negative trade-offs exist between climate change policies and freshwater resources, (ii) analyze where institutions and structures exist to optimize integration among climate, water, and biodiversity policies, and (iii) provide a much needed overview from a broad selection of countries with a view to identifying further opportunities for theoretical exploration and testing. The synergies and conflicts among climate, energy, water, and environmental policies create additional challenges for governments to develop integrated policies to deliver multiple benefits. Success factors for better policy development identified in this assessment and synthesis include engagement of senior political leaders, cyclical policy development, multi-agency and stakeholder processes, and stronger accountability and enforcement measures.

Enhancing the Resilience of the Australian National Electricity Market: Taking a Systems Approach in Policy Development

Barry Newell, Debborah M. Marsh  and Deepak Sharma

Abstract: As the complexity and interconnectedness of present-day social-ecological systems become steadily more apparent, there is increasing pressure on governments, policy makers, and managers to take a systems approach to the challenges facing humanity. However, how can this be done in the face of system complexity and uncertainties? In this paper we briefly discuss practical ways that policy makers can take up the systems challenge. We focus on resilience thinking, and the use of influence diagrams, causal-loop diagrams, and system archetypes. As a case study, set in the context of the climate-energy-water nexus, we use some of these system concepts and tools to carry out an initial exploration of factors that can affect the resilience of the Australian National Electricity Market. We stress the need for the electricity sector to prepare for the impacts of global change by encouraging innovation and diversity, supporting modularity and redundancy, and embracing the need for a policy making approach that takes account of the dynamics of the wider social-ecological system. Finally, taking a longer term view, we conclude by recommending that policy makers work to reduce reliance on conventional market mechanisms, institute continuing cross-sector dialogue, and promote basic education in system dynamics.

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Table of Contents Alert: Ecology and Society 17 (1)

See below for some of the articles that was published in the latest edition of Ecology and Society 17 (1): Special Edition:  IMPLEMENTING PARTICIPATORY WATER MANAGEMENT: RECENT ADVANCES IN THEORY, PRACTICE AND EVALUATION

Implementing Participatory Water Management: Recent Advances in Theory, Practice, and Evaluation

Yorck von Korff, Katherine A. Daniell, Sabine Moellenkamp, Pieter Bots  and Rianne M. Bijlsma

Abstract: Many current water planning and management problems are riddled with high levels of complexity, uncertainty, and conflict, so-called “messes” or “wicked problems.” The realization that there is a need to consider a wide variety of values, knowledge, and perspectives in a collaborative decision making process has led to a multitude of new methods and processes being proposed to aid water planning and management, which include participatory forms of modeling, planning, and decision aiding processes. However, despite extensive scientific discussions, scholars have largely been unable to provide satisfactory responses to two pivotal questions: (1) What are the benefits of using participatory approaches?; (2) How exactly should these approaches be implemented in complex social-ecological settings to realize these potential benefits? In the study of developing social-ecological system sustainability, the first two questions lead to a third one that extends beyond the one-time application of participatory approaches for water management: (3) How can participatory approaches be most appropriately used to encourage transition to more sustainable ecological, social, and political regimes in different cultural and spatial contexts? The answer to this question is equally open. This special feature on participatory water management attempts to propose responses to these three questions by outlining recent advances in theory, practice, and evaluation related to the implementation of participatory water management. The feature is largely based on an extensive range of case studies that have been implemented and analyzed by cross-disciplinary research teams in collaboration with practitioners, and in a number of cases in close cooperation with policy makers and other interested parties such as farmers, fishermen, environmentalists, and the wider public.

Supporting the Shift from State Water to Community Water: Lessons from a Social Learning Approach to Designing Joint Irrigation Projects in Morocco

Marcel Kuper, Mathieu Dionnet, Ali Hammani, Younes Bekkar, Patrice Garin and Bettina Bluemling

Abstract: This paper focuses on the evaluation of a participatory approach aimed at supporting groups of small-scale farmers in the design of joint drip irrigation projects. Our idea was to create a sustainable social learning environment in which they could acquire adaptive knowledge about new irrigation technology and about designing and managing a joint irrigation project while at the same time improving their negotiation capacities. We developed a framework to evaluate the process as well as the outputs and outcomes of the use of our approach with four groups of smallholder farmers in the Tadla irrigation scheme in Morocco. Our findings showed that the learning environment made it possible to compensate for the knowledge differential among stakeholders and to co-produce knowledge that can be mobilized by small-scale farmers to help them make better informed decisions when choosing whether or not to engage in a joint irrigation project and when developing and implementing such a project. We expect that this will ultimately contribute to supporting the shift from state water to community water through a shared understanding of the technical, economic, and social issues and options related to the management of irrigation water.

Designing Participation Processes for Water Management and Beyond

Yorck von Korff, Patrick d’Aquino, Katherine A. Daniell and Rianne Bijlsma

Abstract: This article addresses the question of how to design participation processes in water management and other fields. Despite a lot of work on participation, and especially its evaluation, this question has received little attention in the research literature. However, it is important, because previous research has made it clear that participation may yield important benefits for humans and the environment but that these benefits do not occur automatically. One precondition is sound design. The design of participation processes has been addressed in detail in the so-called “craft” literature but more rarely in the scientific literature. This article helps close this gap by systematically analyzing and comparing five design guides to determine whether it is possible to combine them into a more robust guide. The article confirms that possibility and presents a preliminary outline for such a guide. Principles for participatory process orientation are presented, as well as numerous partially iterative steps. The adaptive process is laid out in a way intended to help designers determine the objectives of the participation process and the initial design context, and make preplanning choices that eventually lead to the selection of suitable participation mechanisms. There are also design tools that facilitate this work. We discuss how our findings are largely compatible with previous research on participation, notably the work on criteria for “good” or “effective” participation processes. We also argue that our article advances research on an important remaining question in the scientific literature on participation: What process should be chosen in which context?

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Table of Contents Alert: The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance: Issues and Practice 37 (2)

See below for some of the articles that is published in the latest edition of The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance: Issues and Practice Special Issue: CLIMATE RISK AND INSURANCE

Explaining the Failure to Insure Catastrophic Risks

Carolyn Kousky and Roger Cooke

Abstract: It has often been observed that homeowners fail to purchase disaster insurance. Explanations have ranged from behavioural biases to information search costs. We show that the decision to forego disaster insurance may be quite rational. Solvency-constrained insurers are required to have access to enough capital to cover a particular percentile of their aggregate loss distribution. When insuring risks with loss distributions characterised by fat tails, micro-correlations or tail dependence, insurers need to charge a price that is many times the expected loss in order to meet their solvency constraint. Homeowners, facing a budget constraint and a constraint that their utility with insurance exceeds that without it, may find the required loadings too high to make insurance purchase an optimal decision.

Disasters and Decentralisation

Jason Scott Johnston

Abstract: Climate change may potentially increase the magnitude of losses from natural hazards, but the United States experience shows that the primary reason for escalating losses is policy failure. It is well known that centralised, taxpayer-funded ex post disaster relief has actually encouraged development in risky jurisdictions and also weakened incentives for ex ante precautions in such jurisdictions (moral or “charity” hazard). Less well known and analysed is the role played by centralised ex ante development subsidies—often masquerading as protective investment—in distorting incentives. This paper develops a simple three jurisdiction model in which homogeneous jurisdictions decide by majority vote in a centralised legislature on the centralised (federal) share of ex post loss and centralised spending an ex ante development in a Beneficiary jurisdiction, taking into account how these decisions about centralised spending impact local Beneficiary jurisdiction incentives for precautions against ex post loss. The model shows that the marginal cost of ex ante federal development spending may be greater for a Beneficiary jurisdiction than for a Contractor jurisdiction. This somewhat technical result has an observable implication: evidence that a small fraction of ex post loss in a Beneficiary jurisdiction is centrally compensated (shared across jurisdictions) is evidence that ex ante development subsidies there may be truly precautionary on net; conversely, evidence that a Beneficiary jurisdiction has a large share of its ex post hazard loss compensated by centralised disaster relief suggests that the ex ante development subsidies received by that jurisdiction did more to encourage new development and increase the amount at risk than they did to protect existing development. The model is extended to consider how ex post loss sharing impacts the demand for federally subsidised disaster insurance and other related issues.

A Comparative Study of Public—Private Catastrophe Insurance Systems: Lessons from Current Practices

Youbaraj Paudel

Abstract: Natural disasters risk is increasing in several regions around the world as a result of socio-economic development and climate change. This indicates the importance of establishing affordable and sustainable natural disaster risk management and compensation arrangements. Given the complexity of insuring extreme risks, insurers and governments often cooperate in catastrophe insurance systems. This paper presents a comparative study of the main components and a broad range of indicators of fully private and fully public, as well as public-private (PP) insurance systems, for extreme events, in ten countries. This analysis results in the following nine main recommendations for policymakers who aim to establish new, or improve existing, insurance arrangements for natural disasters: (1) mandatory participation requirements are advisable to achieve a high market penetration rate; (2) adequate monitoring and enforcement mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure compliance with these requirements; (3) the government needs to take responsibility for part of the (extreme) damage in order to keep an insurance system financially viable and affordable; (4) private insurance companies should participate in a PP insurance scheme by selling and administering policies and by covering medium-sized losses; (5) the integration in systems of risk transferring mechanisms is advisable; (6) it is advisable that governments stimulate the building-up of insurers’ reserves by providing tax exemptions; (7) risk mitigation policies should be carefully integrated in a natural disaster insurance system; (8) a detailed assessment and mapping of risk provides the basis for an effective mitigation policy; (9) insurance should provide financial incentives for policyholders to take risk mitigation measures.

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Table of Contents Alert: International Affairs 88 (3)

See below for some of the latest articles published in International Affairs, 88 (3)

Emerging powers, North–South relations and global climate politics

Abstract: There is a widespread perception that power is shifting in global politics and that emerging powers are assuming a more prominent, active and important role. This article examines the role of emerging powers such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa (BASIC) in climate change politics and the extent to which their rise makes the already difficult problem of climate change still more intractable—due to their rapid economic development, growing power-political ambitions, rising greenhouse gas emissions and apparent unwillingness to accept global environmental ‘responsibility’. By reviewing the developments in global climate politics between the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and Rio+20, this article unsettles the image of a clear shift in power, stressing instead the complexity of the changes that have taken place at the level of international bargaining as well as at the domestic and transnational levels. Within this picture, it is important not to overestimate the shifts in power that have taken place, or to underplay the continued relevance of understanding climate change within the North–South frame. Emerging powers will certainly remain at the top table of climate change negotiations, but their capacity actively to shape the agenda has been limited and has, in some respects, declined. Even though emerging powers have initiated and offered greater action on climate change, both internationally and domestically, they have been unable to compel the industrialized world to take more serious action on this issue, or to stop them from unpicking several of the key elements and understandings of the original Rio deal. At the same time, developing world coalitions on climate change have also fragmented, raising questions about the continued potency of the ‘global South’ in future climate politics.

Full Citation: Hurrell, A. and Sengupta, S. (2012). Emerging Powers, North-South Relations and Global Climate Politcs. International Affairs, 88 (3): 463-484.

International political economy and the environment: back to the basics?

Abstract: For the past two decades, scholars of international political economy and the environment (IPEE) have become quite focused on the study of various international cooperative initiatives that seek to link economic and environmental issues in the wake of the 1987 Brundtland Report and the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. This important work has enhanced our understanding of topics such as the economic dimensions of international environmental governance, the environmental activities of international economic institutions and regimes, and new kinds of private international regimes governing the environment–economy interface. This focus of IPEE scholarship has, however, steered attention away from larger structural trends in the international political economy, whose environmental implications are not addressed explicitly by significant international governance arrangements. Three such trends that are deserving of more attention from IPEE scholars include: the globalization of financial markets; the rise of newly powerful states such as China and India in the global economy; and the recent emergence of high and volatile commodity prices. Each of these structural trends—as well as their interrelationships—have important environmental consequences whose closer study enhances our understanding of the relationship between the international political economy and the environment. Their study also encourages scholars to widen their focus beyond treaties, institutions and regimes to examine broader global economic structures and processes, and the power relationships within them, in an interdisciplinary manner that can draw inspiration from the pioneers of the field of international political economy from the 1970s.

Full Citation: Clapp, J. and Helleiner, E. (2012). International Political Economy and the Environment: Back to Basics? International Affairs, 88 93): 485-501.

Institutional diffusion in International Environmental Affairs

Abstract: This article explores institutional diffusion in international environmental governance, specifying the conditions under which an existing set of institutions provides a template for new institutions. Prior institutional experiences can help to resolve bargaining problems, reduce transaction costs and provide information about likely performance. The authors discuss five examples of institutional diffusion in international environmental affairs and outline some causal mechanisms and conditions that facilitate or block the diffusion of institutional characteristics. As a baseline analysis, founded on assumptions that abstract from politics, a functional argument is developed about the conditions under which mimetic diffusion, reflecting a pattern of imitation, can occur. Although the focus in this short article is on this functional argument, the authors recognize that state interests and power, ideology, and private interests also play significant roles in facilitating or inhibiting institutional diffusion in international environmental affairs.

Full Citation: Ovodenko, A. and Keohane, R.O. (2012). Institutional Diffusion in International Environmental Affairs. International Affairs, 88 (3): 523-541.

Engaging the public and the private in global sustainability governance

Abstract: Negotiators preparing for Rio+20 are missing an important opportunity. Private sustainability governance (PSG) is thriving: organizations created by business and civil society groups, as well as public–private partnerships, adopt and apply significant regulatory standards and undertake valuable operational activities, including pilot projects and financing. However, even though reforming the institutional framework for sustainable development is a central part of the Rio+20 agenda, negotiators are focusing almost exclusively on inter-governmental organizations such as the UN Environment Program (UNEP), the Commission for Sustainable Development and the Economic and Social Council. This public–private engagement gap isolates international governance from the energy and innovation of PSG, and impedes efforts to coordinate the bifurcated and decentralized system of sustainability governance. This article argues that states, and especially international organizations, should actively support PSG as part of the institutional framework for sustainable development, while steering private and public–private schemes towards good organizational practices and the pursuit of public goals. Engagement with PSG would help international institutions pursue their sustainability missions more effectively, promote the emergence of effective and legitimate private schemes, manage fragmentation, promote experimentation and learning, and enhance citizen participation. The article outlines two fruitful modes of engagement pioneered by UNEP: regulatory cooperation, in which international authorities engage directly with business firms, industry groups and other ‘targets’, influencing them to adopt more sustainable behaviors; and orchestration, in which authorities engage with intermediary organizations, such as multi-stakeholder private governance schemes, catalyzing, supporting and steering them as they seek to influence the ultimate targets of policy.

Full Citation: Abbott, K.W. (2012). Engaging the Public and the Private in Global Sustainability Governance. International Affairs, 88 (3): 543-564.

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