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 Book: ‘Business and Climate Change Governance: South Africa in Comparative Perspective’

Börzel, T.A. & Hamman, R. (2013). Business and Climate Change Governance: South Africa in Comparative Perspective. Palgrave Macmillan. 

Why do business organisations contribute to climate change governance in areas of limited statehood? In many countries, governments are too weak and often also not willing to set and enforce climate change regulations. While companies have the capacities to fill the resulting governance gap, conventional wisdom expects them to take advantage by relocating their production sites in order to escape strict national regulation. Studies on South Africa, Kenya and Germany demonstrate that business contributions to the mitigation and adaptation to climate change vary significantly between countries, sectors and firms. In order to explain these variations, the contributors bring together two important literatures that rarely speak to each other – governance and business management – arguing that the threat of public regulation has an important role in motivating business efforts.

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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 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: “Limits to Adaptation to Climate Change: A Risk Approach”

Dow, K., Berkhout, F., Preston, B.L., (2013). Limits to Adaptation to Climate Change: A Risk Approach. Environmental Sustainability. 5: 1-8.

Abstract: As attention to adaptation to climate change increases, there is a growing call for adaptation approaches that focus on risk management. There is also greater recognition that the rate and magnitude of climate variability and change may exceed the limits to adaptation of socio-ecological systems. We offer an actor-centered, risk-based definition for adaptation limits in social systems. Specifically, we frame adaptation limits as the point at which an actor’s objectives cannot be secured from intolerable risks through adaptive actions. These limits are significant because exceeding a limit will either result in intolerable losses on the affected actor or system, or precipitate a discontinuous (or transformational) change of behavior by actors. Such discontinuities in behavior have implications for the distribution of risks, with potentially significant governance consequences. We further argue that some adaptation limits are dynamic through time. We conclude with recommendations for further research into adaptation limits and challenges to risk governance.

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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.

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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