Highlighted: keynote paper on a robust strategy for governing climate change adaptation

As the papers for our conference keep coming in and are uploaded to this site, we like to take the opportunity to highlight another keynote paper “In search of a robust strategy for governing climate change adaptation” by Daniel MazmanianJohn Jurewitz and Hal T. Nelson. The abstract reads: “This paper identifies the governance of adaptation to climate change as a significant case of problems of deep uncertainty, a class of societal problems confronting society. This combined with the myriad of natural resource and human settlement decisions affected by climate change requires a dynamic framework policy together with locally contextual-based, continuously evolving decision rules and decision processes, commensurate with the rapidly evolving reality and science of climate change. We contend that there is deep uncertainty in three domains relevant to establishment of a governance of adaptation. The first is the death of ‘stationarity,’ as the operational paradigm of the bio-physical world, in the legal framework for the built environment that has heretofore assumed stationarity, and in the ability of humans to grasp the extent of dramatic effects of climate change being projected. The second is “the dictatorship of the present”, the absence of a political philosophy that adequately addresses the needs of future generations and the failure to date of even the most ardent environmental theorists to move beyond intra-generational distributive justice. Consequently policymakers, particularly in the United States though elsewhere also, lack an agreed upon value base or practical method for attaining intertemporal social goals. Finally, we identify the absence of a framework policy and formal (hierarchical) governing institutions or effective coordinating, monitoring, and enforcing organizations to ensure justice and equity in coping with adaptation.

In response to these issues, we outline a governing framework that enables policy, planning, and major adaptation choices to be made in the face of deep uncertainty. It builds on and extends the work of the California Adaptation Advisory Panel to develop a robust approach to governing adaptation (2010), for which one of the authors served as executive director. In developing the strategy the Panel engaged a bi-partisan, cross-regional, multi-sector body – from environmental, agricultural, business, civic to environmental and natural resource stakeholders – to chart an adaptation path forward for California.

A universal and unifying ‘covering framework’ for adaptation is needed that will apply to all long-term development and infrastructure decisions, public and private. A framework embedded in the operating rules and multi-year plans of all relevant public agencies and applied to all major public or private investments with an expected lifetime extending 30 years or more into the future. In effect, a framework that can then serve as the overall goal of adaptation analogous to the IPCC goal of holding global warming to two degree centigrade by 2050. The approach identified provides a path forward with respect to more effective governing of adaptation, though it does not completely address the three dimensions of deep uncertainty considered.

The paper concludes with a discussion of the particularly vexing challenge in the temporal versus inter-temporal dimensions of environmental governance in a democratic society.”

Happy reading everyone. And please don’t forget to submit your own paper too!


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