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: ‘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: “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: “Urban Growth and Climate Adaptation in Australia: Divergent Discourses and Implications for Policy-making”

Taylor, B. et al. (2013). Urban Growth and Climate Adaptation in Australia: Divergent Discourses and Implications for Policy-making. Urban Studies. 1-19.

Abstract: Managing urban growth is inherently contentious.  Government policies seek to facilitate and spatially contain growth, while balancing public and private interests. The need for climate adaptation strategies in the urban context is recognised but arguably poorly institutionalised in growth management policies or in urban governance more broadly. This paper considers how debates around urban adaptation and growth management are structured in the discourses of local government, private developers and other actors. A discourse analysis of written submissions and media releases from four urban policy debates in Queensland, Australia, is presented. The analysis highlights the discursive strategies employed by different actors and the way their arguments have been consolidated in the practices of urban policy-making. The analysis suggests a divergence of growth and adaptation storylines, contributing to maintaining the gap between these policy agendas. Progress may be made, however, in the pragmatic discourses of actual policy implementation.

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New Article: ‘Economics of Climate Change Adaptation at the Local Scale under Conditions of Uncertainty and Resource Constraints: the Case of Durban, South Africa’

Cartwright, A., Blignaut, J., de Wit, M., Goldberg, K., Mander, M., O’Donoghue, S., & Roberts, D. (2013). Economics of Climate Change Adaptation at the Local Scale under Conditions of Uncertainty and Resource Constraints: the Case of Durban, South Africa. Environment and Urbanization. DOI: 10.1177/0956247813477814

Abstract: This paper describes the design and application of a benefit-cost model to the city of Durban’s (South Africa) climate change adaptation options. The approach addresses the inability to compile an accurate damage-cost function for economic prioritizations at the local level. It proposes that uncertainty over climate impacts and the efficacy of adaptation responses, in conjunction with the lack of economic data, high levels of economic informality and inequality make it difficult to link adaptation efforts to positive GDP impact in Durban. Instead, the research based its calculations of “benefits” on the number of people impacted and the extent of the welfare benefits imparted by the respective adaptation efforts. It also took into account the uncertainty over future events, capacity constraints, priorities of decision makers and the risk of maladaptation. The results were reported as benefit-cost ratios for 16 clusters of interventions (many of which were primarily the responsibility of one municipal department or agency) in each of four future scenarios (defined by minor or major climate change and weak or strong socio-institutional capacity). The paper presents and discusses the benefit-cost ratios and total benefits for each of the intervention clusters in each of the future scenarios. It emphasizes how these are influenced by choices of time frames. It also highlights how the most efficient interventions across all futures and time frames tend to be socio-institutional − for instance the creation of a cross-sectoral disaster management forum, sea level rise preparedness and early warning system, and creating climate change adaptation capacity within the water services unit. Ecosystem-based adaptation measures had moderate benefit-cost ratios, probably because in Durban the land that needs to be purchased for this is relatively expensive. Infrastructure-based clusters generally had the lowest benefit-cost ratios.

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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.



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