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ICAD News - AAG Institutional Governance of Climate Adaptation I and II

Association of American Geographers: 2014 Annual Meeting, Tampa, USA.

Institutional Governance of Climate Adaptation I and II

Synopsis by James Porter, April 2014

Better science, better decisions, right? Billions has been spent on climate science improving its resolution, complexity and predictive power under that assumption. But do businesses (and decision-makers) always put science before profit, continuity or regulatory requirements? Apply it without pushing an agenda? Or even use it at all?

Recent work reveals how science, and its use, are institutionally shaped and situated. That is, focusing too narrowly on the technical merits of climate tools or efforts to foster interaction, ignores the social, political and economic realities faced by those working in the public and private sector when making decisions. Adhering to regulatory standards, yielding to consumer demands, or responding to competition from rivals, are just a few of the reasons businesses and stakeholders adapt. Where “evidence” fits into this process is unclear, especially given the uncertain and controversial nature of climate science. Yet these institutional drivers often get overshadowed, despite explaining why particular sources of climate information get prioritised, and in turn, how they come to be used.

This session sought to critically engage with the institutional governance of climate change adaptation by focusing on how adaptation policies are shaped, framed and ultimately implemented. Specifically, what conceptual approaches and governance mechanisms are most influential and why; what challenges/benefits do different scales of governance present; and how, or to what extent, is climate science used as decision support. Experiences and challenges faced by different actors, working under different regulatory regimes, in different countries, will be showcased to understand how climate change adaptation is being governed.