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Understanding the adaptation paradox: can global climate change adaptation policy be locally inclusive?

Ayers, Jessica (2010) Understanding the adaptation paradox: can global climate change adaptation policy be locally inclusive? PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Abstract

The governance of climate change adaptation presents a paradox: Climate change is a global risk, yet vulnerability is locally experienced. In order to address this paradox, debates in environmental governance need to find ways of integrating local perceptions of risk with global risk assessments. But how can local inclusiveness be achieved in the context of global environmental risks, and what kinds of institutions are needed? Accordingly, this thesis looks at three inter-related concepts from the social sciences that address the challenge of inclusive policy making, but are as yet under-examined in the context of climate change adaptation: (i) Participation, drawing from development studies; (ii) Expertise, drawing from Science and Technology Studies (STS); and (iii) Deliberation, drawing from political science. It is argued that these concepts have not been sufficiently advanced to take account of the challenges raised by the ‘adaptation paradox.’ The hypothesis of this thesis is that this paradox gives rise to a globalised discourse on adaptation that restricts discussion of risk to ‘global’ and technical expertise, and is not open to localised vulnerability-based knowledge about how risks are experienced. This hypothesis is tested by asking: i) What is the evidence that conflicting definitions of climate risk inhibit inclusive adaptation policy making? And ii) Under what circumstances is local inclusiveness achieved under global climate change policy frameworks? This study collects and analyses a new set of data on the main avenue for the inclusion of vulnerable groups in adaptation policy making: National Adaptation Programmes of Actions (NAPAs). Through a detailed empirical case study analysis of the NAPA process in Bangladesh and Nepal, this study examines the evidence that NAPAs achieved inclusiveness, and the circumstances of more inclusive decisionmaking. This data suggests Nepal took a more inclusive approach to NAPA preparation than Bangladesh; and that this was a result of the choices around how to ‘do inclusiveness’ that were in turn influenced by the historical and political contexts within which these decisions were made. Based on these findings, the thesis argues that current approaches to ‘local inclusiveness’ in global adaptation policy need to pay more attention to the deliberative component of participatory policy making, in terms of how deliberative institutions can shape participatory spaces, and how history and politics have in turn shaped how deliberation takes place in each location.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2010 Jessica Ayers
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > International Development
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/393

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