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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Governance for Global Change

The Colorado Conference on Earth System Governance took place 17-20 May at Colorado State University.The conference was hosted jointly by the Environmental Governance Working Group and the School of Global Environmental Sustainability at Colorado State University along with the IHDP Earth System Governance Project.

I presented a paper on the interactions between assessments of climate risk and governance systems, entitled Embedding Climate Change Risk Assessment in a Governance Context:

Climate change adaptation is increasingly being framed in the context of climate risk management. This has contributed to the proliferation of climate change vulnerability and/or risk assessments as means of supporting institutional decision-making regarding adaptation policies and measures. To date, however, little consideration has been given to how such assessment projects and programs interact with governance systems to facilitate or hinder the implementation of adaptive responses. An examination of recent case studies involving Australian local governments reveals two key linkages between risk assessment and the governance of adaptation. First, governance systems influence how risk assessment processes are conducted, by whom they are conducted, and whom they are meant to inform. Australia’s governance system emphasizes ‘evidence-based’ decision-making that reinforces a knowledge deficit’ model of decision support. Assessments are often carried out by external ‘experts’ on behalf of local government, with limited participation by relevant stakeholders and/or civil society. Second, governance systems influence the extent to which the outputs from risk assessment activities are translated into adaptive responses and outcomes. Technical information regarding risk is often stranded by institutional barriers to adaptation including poor uptake of information, competition on the policy agenda, and lack of sufficient entitlements. Yet, risk assessments can assist in bringing such barriers to the surface, where they can be debated and resolved. In fact, well designed risk assessments can contribute to ‘multi-loop’ learning by institutions, and that reflexive problem orientation may be one of the more valuable benefits of assessment.
Go here to view all papers from the conference

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