Extreme climate events and operationalization of India’s climate policy

CIENS/NIBR research presented at global meeting in Delhi (DSDS), February 2014

By Trond Vedeld

India in the global sustainability dialogue
The ambitious 14th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS 2014) on “Attaining Energy, Water, and Food Security for All” (February 5–8, 2014) suggests that India has acquired a key position in the “global dialogue” on sustainable development. DSDS is “the most important global meeting held annually to deal with issues of sustainable development” according to R. K. Pachauri, the head of the UN IPCC and director of Teri which organizes the Summit (Teri = The Energy and Resource Institute).

This year’s Summit had special significance because of the current UN process of setting global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2015 – and arriving at global agreements on climate change towards Paris in 2015.
Photo: Guro Aandahl

Overall, the DSDS is a strong reminder that the challenge of climate change promotes innovative thinking, new partnerships and new opportunities for development. The Summit was able to attract many key stakeholders, including several former heads of states and government ministers across the world, corporate business, international development finance, the UN, research and civil society.

Kofi Annan in his opening speech emphasized the fact that millions across the world were still without access to energy, while a growing global middle class continued their exploitation of “common” scarce resources. In his concluding speech, John Gummer, M, UK highlighted the important manifestations of climate change from country cases presented from across the globe on extreme climate events, such as floods and droughts, e.g. from the Seychelles, Buthan, Mongolia, Myamar, Mexico, UK, India and others.

Research on extreme risks and Community-based Adaptation (CBA)
During the Summit, apart from being participants throughout the four days, we presented the first results from our CIENS and NIBR led research project funded by the Norwegian Embassy in India “Extreme Risks, Vulnerabilities and Community-based Adaptation in India (EVA): A Pilot Study” (2012–2014).

The project is a collaboration between five partners; TERI, AFPRO, CICERO, NIVA and NIBR. The scope of this research project, with field work in Maharashtra, has been inspired by the UN Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX).

The project findings were presented in a side event organized in response to the long-term Indo-Norwegian collaboration on climate change and sustainable development supported by Norway and the Embassy of Norway in India. The event was opened by Dr. Pachauri and Mr. Lars Andreas Lunde, Deputy Minister of Climate and Environment, both referring to Norway’s strong support of DSDS and Teri over several years. The Norwegian Embassy was also represented in the event with Ambassador Eivind S. Homme.

Drought and extreme risks in Jalna, Maharasthra
The unfortunate drought of 2012 in Maharashtra; the worst drought in 40 years, had given us as researchers the possibility to follow the consequences of an extreme event – before, during and after – and an opportunity to think afresh about the responses and capacity to withstand possible future extreme climate risks at district and local village levels. While such a disaster will always bring hardship to local people, it also exposes systemic and institutional strengths and weaknesses, and thus offers opportunities for change and innovation.
Photo: Trond Vedeld

Booklet: Drought in Jalna – Community-based Adaptation to Extreme Climate Events in Maharashtra

Trond Vedeld’s presentation at the conference (PDF)

The EVA project has over a period of two years investigated the consequences of extreme risks (drought) and the local impacts on agriculture, water resources and livelihoods in village communities of Jalna District of Maharashtra. The focus has been on understanding how local communities responded before, during and after the drought and were able to withstand the impacts of such an extreme event. The field work was carried out in nine villages in the Jalna District of the monsoon shadow belt of India among relatively poor dryland cotton farmers in Northern Maharashtra. By studying local impacts and perspectives on adaptation across villages and social groups, we reveal some of the enabling and constraining factors for Community-based Adaptation (CBA). In this regard, the project brings out how the government of India at state and district levels mobilizes and coordinates relief efforts, and how the drought emergency system is linked to more long-term risk management and development programs. To this end, the project provides insight into how India operationalizes climate risk management policies from central via state to the local levels.

Key preliminary findings on Community-based Adaptation
A key finding from our interviews with decision makers and participatory research in the nine villages is that local communities were basically not prepared to tackle the severe impacts of such an extreme drought, which lasted well into 2013. Even the better endowed village communities in terms of developed watersheds, agricultural land and access to water from local wells faced hardships. Hence, this means that communities, at present level of resilience, will depend on outside safety nets or assistance to cope with extreme drought. While full resilience to such an extreme event cannot really be expected, we also find that there is clearly scope for many improvements in local climate risk management and governance at multiple levels.

The 2012 drought had severe impacts on water, crops, livestock and people in the district of Jalna. At the same time it mobilized major relief efforts on the part of the state and district government, as well as support from civil society and other local actors. Rainfall was only between 25–50% of normal rainfall.

Hardships were dampened, however, due to many farmers having stored grains or possessed other income sources from earlier good years (2011 was a good rainfall year). The drought did not lead to the massive hardships that were seen in the drought of 1972 (or earlier), reflecting improvements in resilience along several dimensions. Impacts varied a lot, however, from one village and social group to another, reflecting variation in adaptive capacity as well as variation in rainfall across space.

The drought manifested itself first of all in water scarcity. Drinking water and water for livestock quickly became a key concern as the rains failed. Wells went dry. Fodder for animals became scarce. Water for irrigation was prioritized to cash crops. However, irrigation water was grossly inadequate across all villages and most farmers – both for the monsoon cash crops and the winter food/fodder crops. Crop and income losses of more than 50% were experienced by many farmers.

Local authorities launched a massive relief operation at high costs to the government. Water tankers were provided for drinking water to most villages. Fodder was made available in cattle camps. Employment schemes were provided. Crop rescue schemes were launched and crop compensation provided. The emergency operations were significant across different sectors, yet not always so well coordinated across different actors (public and private) and at village levels. People tended to claim that the relief was often delayed or was not sufficient and payments came late. For example, there existed no early warning system for drought linked to a district drought contingency plan with the district authorities, although the district administration possessed long-term experience with drought risk management, and fairly quickly mounted a significant operation with important positive impacts. ‘While the government did the right things, the scale and outreach and timing was not always according to local needs and demands’, according to one observer from civil society. Hence, there is scope for improvements in drought risk management on behalf of the government – as well as on the side of the private agricultural sector – which engaged in smaller operations only (e.g. provision of water tanks). NGOs seemed to be more substantially involved in relief measures at different levels.
Photo: Guro Aandahl

Some key policy implications
Our findings suggest that if stronger CBA is to become a reality in Jalna, there is a need for much more efficient local climate risk management, improved water and environmental governance; the farmers need to see more crops per drop of water; policy gaps and equity issues need to be addressed; and both incremental and transformative change needs to take place. Our presentation at DSDS emphasized the need to reinforce three key policy and governance areas as critical for improving CBA:
• Shift in policy emphasis from relief to long-term climate risk management
• Shift locus from district to village panchayat levels – also to deal with access and equity issues
• Strengthen coordination, cooperation across the public-private divide, and convergence between sectors and actors involved in climate risk management, watershed/dryland farming, and sustainable development

More efficient CBA among local villagers seems to require a stronger and more long-term focus in climate risk management and more innovative and coordinated climate services.

Operationalizing India’s adaptation policy through climate services

The EVA project suggests that more research is required to understand how India operationalizes climate change policies from national to local levels with a particular focus on coordinated climate services. While climate services in Maharashtra have improved considerably over the last few years, for example, with better weather information, there is a need to better understand the interface between the various service providers and the diverse users of weather/climate information and how best climate services can operate to promote improved weather and monsoon forecasting combined with systems of early warning, contingency planning, water budgeting, weather index insurance for farmers, and improved social safety nets.

Capacity building of leaders: risk management everybody’s business
It is critical that climate risk management becomes everybody’s business. Hence, there is a need for capacity building of leaders of government agencies for them to work more systematically on risk awareness and risk management within respective agencies and in closer partnerships and dialogue with private business and civil society through governance networks. It is also important to better understand how capacity building can be reinforced at the local level through partnerships between government, private business and civil society. This should probably be done with a focus on progressive farmers, landless and women through mutual learning and gender focussed capacity development.
Photo: Guro Aandahl

City authorities in Africa unprepared for extreme rainfall and floods

By Trond Vedeld

Municipalities not prepared to tackle floods and climate change
Neither central nor municipal authorities in cities in Africa are prepared to tackle present climate extreme events and flood disasters. They are even less prepared to meet governance challenges related to future climate events, which will involve increase in frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall. The impacts of floods are greatly excerbated by rapid urbanization and proliferation of informal and unplanned settlements in flood prone areas, and the unwillingness or lack of capacity of urban governments to address social inequalities and vulnerability.

These are some of the key findings from our four years study of how flood risks and climate change adaptation are governed within the two coastal cities of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Saint Louis, Senegal. The study among others examined how key actors at local, city and state level responded to recent specific extreme rainfall and flood events in 2010 and 2011.
From Dar es Salaam. Source: www.cluva.eu

We presented this research on climate change, governance and resilient cities at a recent workshop in Addis Ababa, 5-8 November, 2013. The research is part of a large-scale multi-disciplinary EU funded research project “Climate Change and Urban Vulnerability in Africa” (CLUVA). The workshop in Addis was co-organized with the African Union – and involved Mayors from five cities in Africa and representatives of UNHABITAT (1).

The research team is now in the process of preparing synthesis articles from our research on Dar es Salaam and Saint Louis with funding from NIBR’s Strategic Institute Program; “Challenges for Governance and Planning in Cities and Municipalities”.

The study of adaptation governance in Dar es Salaam and Saint Louis
The research on these two African cities applies a multi-governance framework as an analytical tool to understand the interplay between state, municipal, private business, civil society and international actors within these policy fields, focusing on structures and processes of coordination (vertical and horizontal). A key focus of the research is on how city and sub-city levels of government and governance respond to climate change and flood risks.

The research combines reviews of policies, legislation and institutions/networks with semi-structured interviews and field-work in two local case study areas in each city in order to explore the local encounters between actors across sectors and scales.

Dar es Salaam and Saint Louis are both located in low-lying coastal zones criss-crossed by important rivers; Saint Louis being situated at the outlet of the large River Senegal that ends in the Atlantic Ocean; and Dar es Salaam being located in a river delta zone with several smaller rivers that cross the city territory and drain into the Indian Ocean. They are both former capitals and represent rich cases for a comparative study of institutional arrangements.
Saint Louis. Source: www.cluva.eu

Climate change adaptation a fragmented and nascent agenda

The empirical investigations reveal that climate change adaptation, despite many individual adaptation activities taking place across the city territory, is still a fairly fragmented and nascent policy domain, which is not well integrated in urban planning and flood risk management.

Local communities with experience and some coping capacity
While the local communities in flood-exposed areas in both cities have evolved over decades to take initiatives and show ingenuity in coping with floods, the national authorities have not fully acknowledged their responsibilities as laid down in national disaster risk and adaptation strategies and legislation. National governments have provided limited guidance, mandates, resources and technical support to the municipality for taking appropriate climate actions. Within both disaster risk management and climate change adaptation there is lack of clarity in the division of responsibility between national ministries, regional state agencies and the municipality; the regional state bodies representing the “strong” level in terms of urban flood risk management and planning.

The actors involved are many and fragmented and actions more geared towards emergency response than preparedness and long-term adaptation. There are no direct commando lines or early warning systems working from local via city to regional and national levels. There is also no effective implementation of climate and flood risk principles in the land use planning systems, and land use planning is ineffective and weakly enforced, particularly in Dar es Salaam. The annual budgets transferred from central governments to municipal governments are too low for any meaningful investments to address underlying vulnerabilities.
From Dar es Salaam. Photo: Trond Vedeld

Communities need support from above
The community-based organisations – as well as the local wards/subwards – require greater powers and more coordinated support from higher levels to become really effective partners with the municipality and the regional state if the goal is to enhance resilience at the neighbourhood levels, and more so, to bring local actions to scale. At present many of the initiatives on climate change and flood risk management depend on a few individual “champions” within planning, environment, and relevant agencies, in combination with community level action.

Multi-level governance structure and lack of decentralisation
When comparing urban governance across the two cities, we find that in Saint Louis there is greater organisational commitment and stronger leadership for coordination at municipal and regional state levels for flood risk management, as well as more responsiveness to local demands for planning and service support. Urban governance in Dar es Salaam (exemplified by Kinondoni municipality) suffers more from lack of finance, understaffing, a complex multi-layered municipal bureaucracy, and lack of firm coordination at all municipal levels.

Our findings indicate that in both countries there are basically a three tier government structure characterized by a relatively strong unitary state, a relatively autonomous yet weak municipal level, and an even weaker regional elected level (with elected regional councils)(2). Dar es Salaam city is located within the region of Dar es Salaam, while Saint Louis is similarly located within the region of Saint Louis. The regional elected councils are fairly recently established (Senegal) and/or still very weak in terms of administrative capacity, staff, finances and technical competence.

More importantly, the regional state level, as well as the district state level, represent the ´strong´ levels in terms of provision of key relevant land use planning, water infrastructure and disaster risk management and other services. The deconcentrated state services at this level, considered part and parcel of the decentralization reform (mostly so in Senegal), are in both cities located ´next-door´ to the municipal services and to some degree overlap with those of the municipality. The state services are to a large degree coordinated by the Governor at regional level and Prefect at district level in Saint Louis, and, similarly, by the Regional Commissioner and Regional Secretariat at regional level and the District Commissioner at district level in Dar es Salaam. The Prefect and District Commission are on par with the Mayor in the authority hierarchy.

In contrast to what you find for example in a developed decentralized democratic system, such as in Norway, the elected regional level has a limited or no substantive role in coordinating actors for some joint purpose. In contrast, the regional state plays a key role as coordinating nodes for adaptation and disaster risk management services within the city territory. Coordination is mainly done by the Governor/Regional Commissioner at regional level and by the Prefect/District Commissioner at city level. The coordinating committees at this level tend to function through hierarchical instruments e.g. by providing information and guidance in environment and/or disaster risk management committees, while also instructing service agencies on what to do in general development (development committees). These regional state coordinating committees for adaptation and disaster risk management have limited administrative, technical and financial capacity to actually perform their duties. Even if the municipality have much autonomy, and is supposed to be only overseen in their legal handling of budgets and functions by the regional state level, in reality this autonomy lacks content in the sense that they lack powers and legal mandates, finances, staff, technical competence, and capacity to perform their planning and service functions.

None of the city municipalities have any elaborate strategy or action plan developed for coordinating climate change adaptation or for disaster risk management, even if disaster risk management committees according to the law are supposed to be decentralised and established at the municipal and ward/district level.

Moreover, in both cities the formal water supply and sewerage systems, as well as key elements of storm water management is governed under public corporations that report directly to national ministries. These corporations to limited degree work in the informal areas. Major problems thus arise for addressing social vulnerability in that 80% of the people of Dar es Salaam (also in Kinondoni) and 30% of the people of Saint Louis live in settlements that are unplanned and informal and for this reason basically grossly underserviced or not serviced with e.g. sewerage and storm water drainage.

In summary, the national coordination of climate change adaptation and disaster risk management by hierarchical instruments can be characterized as weak, which is not surprising – given that this has been observed also in other African countries (Roberts et al. 2013) as well as in many European countries (Bulkeley 2010, OECD 2009, Hanssen et al. 2013).
Informal settlement in Saint Louis. Photo: Trond Vedeld

Key policy implications
If climate resilience is perceived as an important policy goal for the city municipalities, there is a need to strengthen multi-level governance and coordination on a broad scale. Some selected recommendations from the research are;

• Put in place organisational homes and structures for coordination of the joint disaster risk management and climate change agendas at municipal and sub-city levels, including responsibility for storm water management and flooding

• Ensure appropriate communication lines from local via city to regional and state levels in the national disaster risk management system; enable a coordinated early warning system

• Provide the ward/sub-wards with a formal and stronger role in (community led) land development control systems

• Enable greater acceptance of informality and inequality within the central and local government entities involved in planning, flood risk management and service delivery

• Develop a city climate action plan which interfaces with key sector concerns; with a first priority towards the water resource sector and a need to maintain and improve storm water drainage systems

• Ensure that climate and disaster risk and vulnerability assessments/maps are available and included in plans for developing city resilience; make the maps and plans publicly available

(1) The EU project represents a collaborative effort between 15 universities in Africa and Europe. The final scientific report has been submitted as deliverable under the CLUVA project: “Urban governance, climate extremes and resilience in Dar es Salaam and Saint Louis”, T. Vedeld, W., Kombe, A. Coly, N, Ndour, C., Kweka-Msale, and S. B. Hellevik, Cluva deliverable D3.1.v3. www.cluva.eu

(2) Tanzania is in reality a union between the mainland territory and the smaller territory of Zanzibar.

African cities, extreme events and climate change

What do you know about climate change, floods and the implications for urban governance in African cities?
by Trond Vedeld

I am just listening to Soulemane Gueye talking about various citizen neighbourhood groups in Saint Louis in Senegal and their capacity for engaging in flood risk management with the City Council and development agencies. Saint Louis is a coastal city situated at the mouth of the Senegal River and the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and extremely vulnerable to flood risks and sea level rise and related coastal erosion. One of this city’s assets in coping with floods is precisely its particular institutional history (former capital of the French West African colonial “empire”) and an evolution of civic associations (religious groups, youth groups, women groups, economic business groups) and local engagement in their dealing with the municipality and local state agencies.

Street life in Saint Louis

Soulemane is a PHd student from Gaston Berger University, and one among some 20 African and European researchers that have met for an important workshop at the University of Copenhagen on African cities and climate change. The workshop is organised in relation to a large-scale EU funded research and capacity building project CLimate change and Urban Vulnerability in Africa (CLUVA). Vist the CLUVA home page for more information!

The project is closely involved with urban stakeholders and UNHABITAT and works in five cities in different locations in Africa; three coastal cities; Dar es Salaam, Saint-Louis and Doala; and two inland cities; Ouagadougou and Addis Ababa. Each of these cities are faced with many of the same climate change and flood risk issues, but their challenges in governing risks differ a lot according to locational factors, social vulnerability, political economy and governance. CLUVA involves 16 partners including urban researchers and planning experts from universitites in each of these cities.

Addis Ababa

The integrated research approach of CLUVA involves research on climate scenarios, assessments of impacts, exposed areas, scoial vulnerability, adapatation strategies and governance looking towards what may constitute more climate resilient cities. CLUVA is in its third year of implementation and aims to develop methods and knowledge to be applied to these five African cities to manage climate risks, to reduce vulnerabilities and to improve their coping capacity and resilience towards climate changes.

The NIBR team on this EU project (Trond, Siri, Jan Erling, Inger-Lise) heads the work on extreme flood risks and city goverance, and have worked particularly with the cities of Dar es Salaam and Saint-Louis on multi-level governance and policy challenges in relation to city adaptation strategies and approaches for adaptation to future climate change variability and disaster risks.

The cities face very different challenges in this regard; the long term experience with flood risks with high impacts in Saint Louis seems to have created more local awareness over time and greater coordination capacity within the goveranance system for local level disaster response than what is observed in Dar es Salaam. In this regard, Saint Louis is faced with problems such as inadequate services for managing stormwater following heavy rainfall, waste water, solid waste and floods from the Senegal River. About 30% of the 200 000 inhabitants live in underserviced and unplanned informal settlements. In 2009, close to 80 000 were affected by floods.

In Dar es Salaam, which has a population of almost 5 million people, they have more recently experienced increasing problems with city-wide floods following major cloudbursts, and less awareness and capacity at different levels exists on flood risk management. In 2010, more than 40 people drowned in a flood event and throusands of houses were flooded. The share size of the city, with close to 80% of the people living in informal settlements; many of them exposed and vulnerable to floods, might be one reason why Dar es Salaam have not developed a systematic disaster risk mangement system at city level. Overall, Dar es Salaam represents a city with significant limitations in its governance system particularly with respect to public capacities to manage urbanization related to land management and control and development. Consequently, many of the low income settlements have emerged spontaneously on low-lying lands exposed to floods.

From Dar es Salaam

While as researchers we utilize the cities as “case studies” for furthering governance theory related to multi-level governance and network theory, there are also policy relevant findings coming out of CLUVA. Some policy relevant findings include that the cities, in order to address multiple risk and drivers of climate extremes and related social vulnerability, need to work on more strategic integration of disaster risk management and climate change adaptation in urban planning, governance and sector work. In particular, there is a need to provide disaster risk management an institutional “home” at municipal levels, ensure coordination and command and control systems for early warning and disaster response, while also move towards addressing social and spatial inequalities through developing climate-proofed strategies and investments for stormwater management, water and sanitation, solid waste collection and green space management in low-income areas. For this to happen financially strapped city municipalities need to be provided greater powers and financial support from their respecgtive state governments. State governments also lack financial resources, hence, assistance from international donors from countries responsible for the climate issues, should also take the urban climate change agenda more seriously and open for greater support of urban citizens and their struggles. The government also needs to look for ways of engaging a wider set of stakeholders in their cities on this agenda, including private business and civil society actors at the local level.

Droughts, farmers, and “low-regrets” options

Rural Maharashtra, India, April 2012.
Reflections from a field visit
by Guro Aandahl

The village child-care centre (‘anganwadi’) is packed. Seated along two walls is our group, 7 researchers from Norway and New Delhi and two NGO workers from urban Maharashtra and New Delhi. I struggle with shifting my legs in and out of something resembling a lotus position, as I wonder what the farmers (assembled here from three neighbouring villages) might be thinking of us.

Village meeting in Maharashtra. Photo: Guro Aandahl

We are researchers and development practitioners (from AFPRO, CICERO, NIBR, NIVA and TERI) on a brief visit to get a first and superficial introduction to how village communities in the drylands of Maharashtra suffer from, cope with, or adapt to drought and possible other damaging weather events. This is the beginning of the two-year research project “EVA” (Extreme Risks, Vulnerabilities and Community-Based Adaptation in India: a pilot study) which will hopefully also contribute to improved strategies for how people in this region can adapt to the climate of the future, with a probable increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like droughts, heavy and “untimely” rainfall, and heat waves.

Which strategies can be adopted at the community level, and how can government policies increase local resilience and reduce vulnerability?

Women cleaning drains before monsoon. Photo: Trond Vedeld

Living in the Rainshadow
In Maharashtra, droughts are not a new phenomenon brought on by climate change. The drylands of Maharashtra lie in the rainshadow behind the Western Ghat mountain range. Rainfall has always been limited (600-800 mm/year in Jalna district where we are), and the monsoon is of erratic character. Every fourth year is a drought year, according to the farmers. But ninety years ago, the drylands of Maharashtra was a famine belt. Now, recurring droughts cause crop losses, but not famines.

Social Connectedness Relieves Vulnerability
Historian Donald Attwood has shown how connections to markets and governmental systems for famine relief (in particular food-for-work programmes) have reduced the devastating effects of droughts over the last 90 years. Furthermore, irrigation systems and watershed development have improved dryland farming systems’ ability to withstand failing monsoons. The severe drought of 1970-1973 in Maharashtra had “almost no measurable demographic effects” (Attwood 2007:22), no increased mortality, no large-scale migration to other states.

The Mahatma Gandhi Act: State Action for Employment During Drought
After this drought, the Government of Maharashtra designed an Employment Guarantee Scheme which provides employment for unemployed farmers and rural labourers when agricultural activities come to a halt due to drought. These lessons from Maharashtra have been upscaled to an all-India level through the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act which was adopted by the Indian Parliament in 2005. India has responded to climatic challenges for centuries, and much is better now than in the past. To what extent will climate change and “global warming” require a radically new approach?

Starving livestock. Photo: Trond Vedeld

Climate Change and Local Risk Variation
This winter, the IPCC published a special report (known as “SREX”) on how to manage the risks of extreme events due to climate change. This comprehensive review of existing studies of climate change, extreme weather, and associated risks and vulnerabilities highlights the complexity and diversity of factors that shape human vulnerability to extremes. Why do extreme weather events become disasters for some communities and countries whereas weather of the same intensity can be less severe for others? What are some of the possible options for reducing the risks of and damages from climate extremes?

No Regrets?
The SREX report identifies so-called “low-regrets options” that can reduce exposure and vulnerability: measures that will not be regretted even if the scenarios we now have for the future climate turn out to be too pessimistic. Examples are improved water-management practices and the introduction and implementation of poverty-reduction schemes. What can India learn from the international experiences? And what can we learn from the Indian experience?

Drylands. Photo: Guro Aandahl

Pushing the Problem Downstream?
One “low-regret” measure is watershed development programmes, i.e. measures to capture and store rainwater through structures like checkdams and earthen bunds, preservation and planting of trees, and diversification of farming systems. This is particularly useful in monsoon climates with low and erratic rainfall. Such programmes have been implemented in Indian villages since the late 1980s. The village we are now in is one of the more successful within watershed development in its district. The farmers tell us that this has significantly increased the water level in their open wells, which is the main source of water for agriculture and drinking.

We ask whether neighbouring villages have done the same, and with the same benefits. Accompanied by low laughter among the farmers, they tell us that no, in fact the watershed development of the “success village” has reduced the availability of water in the neighbouring villages located at a lower elevation. Some new conflicts had been created as lower villages used to benefit from the run-off from the village we are now in.

Checkdam. Photo:Trond Vedeld

Increasing Yields…
We asked the farmers whether and how agricultural extension services are useful to them, that is, the agronomic advice given by experts from the Government’s Agricultural Department. The general answer was that they had benefitted much from this. For example, they had been advised to sow the monsoon crop right before the arrival of the monsoon, and not wait until the arrival of the first rains as they used to do. This increased the yields significantly.

…but also Risk
However, there was a downside: if the rain never comes, the investment in seeds, fertilizer, and labour is lost. With the earlier practice, farmers did not spend money on seeds and labour if the rain failed, hence the economic losses were less. So it seems that a practice that has increased prosperity in “normal” rainfall years might have increased vulnerability (or at least economic losses) in drought years. Has overall vulnerability then increased or decreased? Is the farming system more or less vulnerable to droughts? The SREX recommends poverty reduction schemes – can poverty reduction also make us more vulnerable?

Farmers in the Indian countryside. Photo: Trond Vedeld

A Problem to Every Solution
Again I am reminded of a small article written in 1985 by one of the pioneers of development research, Paul Streeten, titled “A problem to every solution”. “Development economics and policies on it have not failed; their very success has created new problems,” he wrote, “Scientific confidence asserts that there is a solution to every problem, but experience teaches us that there is a problem to every solution, and often more than one.” Can this be the case also within the rapidly growing policy field of adaptation to climate change?

Farmers and researchers by a well. Photo: Trond Vedeld.

“Mobilising Metaphors” – Masking Real Antagonisms?
The proliferation of catchy terms like “Climate-Smart Agriculture”, “Community-Based Adaptation”, and “Community Participation” signal a commendable quest for solutions to an important problem. If decision-makers pledge their political support to the agendas accompanying the terms, they can also be instrumental in a public deliberation process whereby various citizen groups and social movements hold decision-makers accountable to their words.

A village meeting outdoors. Photo: Guro Aandahl

The catch-phrases are useful as “mobilising metaphors” which are easy to rally around, which is important, but this may also be precisely because they mask the thoroughly political nature of rural development, the differences of interests, values, and ideologies that are an inherent part of human life.

However, if we want to understand why the policies and low-regrets adaptation options identified by planners, scientists, and scholars are often only partly recognisable after having been implemented in real-life settings, we’ll do well to also look for issues of differences in power, interests, perceptions, and knowledge. These thoughts race through my head as I observe our meeting and wait for the translation of the dialogue carried out in Marathi.

Who Gets to Speak – And What Does It Mean?
There are around 40 farmers present in our village meeting room, white shirts and ‘Nehru caps’ dominate. On the doorstep looking into the room is a man with a big turban-like headwear often worn by men from livestock-herding communities. In the corner near the door are three women and a child. Neither the man in the turban nor the women speak during our meeting. (Later, we find out that one of the women was the elected head of the village council (‘panchayat’) in the previous five-year council term when this post was reserved for women.)

Of course, there is valuable information in what the farmers say in the meeting. But it is also interesting to observe such “community meetings” as a microcosm from which we can catch a glimpse of the social structures that shape patterns of vulnerability at the village level. Who speaks? Who is silent? Who is inside the room? And who are not even present? And does this matter for the prospects for Community-Based Adaptation to climate extremes in the future?

Village Meeting: Inside and Outside. Photo: Guro Aandahl

Developing Countries say No to Green Economy, Yes to Sustainable Development

NIBR-researcher Trond Vedeld’s recently published report Green economy and Rio+20. “Business-as-ususal” or a new paradigm? (NIBR Working Paper 2011:118) focuses on why so many developing countries are sceptical to the concept of “Green Economy”.

by Trond Vedeld

Green economy – within the framework of sustainable development and poverty reduction – has been chosen as main theme for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012. The conference is also known as “Rio+20” being a follow-up conference to the ‘Earth Summit’ of Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Forester, Brazil (Image: Wikimedia Commons).

What Is Green Economy?
Green economy is particularly concerned with the degradation of natural capital, rising ecological scarcity and environmental risks, and the need to internalize environmental costs in economic analysis and macroeconomic policy. Green economy assumes that global climate, environment and development challenges are mainly a consequence of failures in the economic system.

Green economy is accompanied by a set of economic policies and economic instruments that for low-income development countries would imply enhanced public and private investments in natural capital, including biodiversity, ecosystem services, agriculture and forestry, and low energy/low emission society.


Political Leadership Needed, Not Just Economic Analysis

The NIBR report, however, argues that the focus of the Rio+20 negotiations should be on sustainable development more so than on green economy – reflecting demands from developing countries.

These countries want to maintain a focus on issues of poverty reduction, equity, global political economy and injustice; issues they perceive better embraced by the concept of sustainable development. Global challenges are as much about transformation of the political system as about the need for economic system reforms, it is argued.

Farm worker carrying maize, Zimbabwe (Image: Wikimedia commons).

Here, the developing countries find support in civil society and amongst critical scholars. Sustainable development is perceived as a more fruitful concept in that it places conditions for social, institutional and political transformation at the center of analysis and reform. Hence, it directs attention to political leadership, governance and the roles and responsibilities of elites for a crisis-ridden political economy.

Development strategies should thus be formulated through political and institutional analysis, and not be left to economic analysis alone, which tends to provide insufficient answers to environmental and economic crisis.

Environmentalism vs. Political Sovereignty?
The NIBR-report provides an overview and critical assessment of the “Global Green New Deal” as an agenda for transition to a green economy. It shows that even if most countries have accepted green economy as a possible strategy for sustainable development, and important green investments are underway, many observers from developing countries argue that the agenda is not well adapted to their specific demands. Among others they perceive environmental issues and conditionalities that may threaten national sovereignty and control over own resources.

Farmers returning home, Nepal (Image: Wikimedia Commons).

Recommendations for Norway
In the concluding section, the report presents implications of the analysis for Norwegian development policy and the negotiations towards the Rio Conference in June 2012.

The report suggests placing the social dimensions at the centre of negotiations, while focusing on key global and national political economy issues, including the inability of political elites and political leaders to govern market failures and raise climate and environmental issues on the political agenda.

Read more:

Vedeld, Trond (2011): Green economy and Rio+20. “Business-as-ususal” or a new paradigm? (NIBR Notat 2011:118). The publication is a re-worked version of a report produced for the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Summary in English here.

Upcoming Deluge or False Prophecy? Climate Change Debates in the Russian North

Is the world getting dangerously warmer and wetter, or is there more “hot air” than global warming? And how may one best adapt to the climate changes currently observed – and the more extreme ones predicted for the future? Read NIBR’s impressions from field work and conference participation in the North Russian Arkhangelsk Region.

By Mikkel Berg-Nordlie

Arkhangelsk is located on 64 degrees north and home to 356.000 people. Having a vibrant cultural life and being far older than most major urban settlements in circumpolar Russia (founded in 1584), the city named after the Archangel Michael considers itself the Russian “capital of the North”.

Administratively, though, it is just the capital of 1.185.000 souls, the citizens of Arkhangelsk Region, a Russian province the size of Spain, with vast areas of pristine northern wilderness and riddled with waterways – the major one being the Northern Dvina, at the delta of which the city itself is situated. In a context of increasing global temperatures, what will be the future of regions like Arkhangelsk – Arctic areas characterized by flat marshland, tundra, and rivers of considerable size?

The coat of arms of Arkhangelsk (Image: Wikimedia Commons).

On June 15-16, four researchers from NIBR participated in the conference Climate change and water management – meeting the challenges in the Barents Region in Arkhangelsk, Russia. Aadne Aasland, Jørn Holm-Hansen, Martin Lund-Iversen and Mikkel Berg-Nordlie attended the conference whilst also doing field work for the NIBR project Adaptation to Climate Change in the Russian North.

Climate change: Reaping the Whirlwind of Human Impact, or Harmless Natural Cycles?

While scientific data do indicate that Arkhangelsk is experiencing a general tendency of warming, some still feel that this is not yet sufficiently well proven. In the local research community there currently appears to be a substantial degree of doubt concerning the reasons behind climate changes, their nature, and their impacts.

Quite a few interviewees and presenters at the conference believed that we are presently only seeing temperature increases that are a part of natural, long-term cyclic climate changes – rather than an unprecedented result of human activities. Some also articulated disbelief that that our current temperature rise will have many negative effects for the region – on the contrary, many pointed to beneficial aspects of this development, such as the opening of waterways in the Arctic Ocean.


As the ice cap melts, the Arctic Ocean may become a major transportation route between the continents (Image: Wikimedia Commons).

In Arkhangelsk, such ideas appear to be more mainstream than in certain countries of Western Europe. In Russia also, though, skeptics are being challenged by new data and new interpretations. Now, adaptation to climate change is on the authorities’ agenda, even though the academic debate around the phenomenon still seems to not have quite reached any consensus concerning what the phenomenon really is, and what needs to be done with it.

Waiting for Winter on the Nenets Tundra

Medical specialists, however, seem to be particularly critical towards the notion that climate change, cyclic or manmade, is undramatic for the northern population. They are alarmed about the increased water flow’s possibility for creating severe hygienic problems, the chance that a more unpredictable climate will increase stress levels in the population, the proven appearance in the north of harmful southern species such as the encephalitis-carrying tick, and not least what the climate changes may mean for people engaged in traditional economic activities – such as the northern indigenous population.

Dr. Leonid Zubov of the Arkhangelsk Medical University spends a lot of his time in the Nenets Autonomous Area, an entity that administratively falls under the jurisdiction of Arkhangelsk region. 7000 of the 41.000 inhabitants are indigenous Nenets, inhabiting an area particularly vulnerable to global warming due to permafrost.

The Nenets, the largest indigenous group in Russia, constitute the aboriginal population in areas north of Arkhangelsk city (Image: Wikimedia Commons).

Zubov has observed first hand how winter now comes later to the region, delaying the migration of nomadic reindeer herders on their way back to more densely settled areas: some routes are too marshy to cross without snow, and the herders get stuck with their animals for protracted periods of time, waiting for the ground to become solid enough to cross. In the meantime, their livestock loses valuable meat because of scarce pastures, and the herders and their families get reduced access to the medical services only available to them in the periods when they live close to the towns – not only do they arrive later, but they need to leave earlier also, in order to get to their summer pastures before the snow melts and renders the terrain impossible to cross.

It would appear that the impacts of climate change are indeed already being felt in the most vulnerable corners of northern Russia. Assuming that climate changes are to a large extent manmade, the problems of the reindeer-herding Nenets appear to be an ultimate unjustice of sorts: those who have contributed the least to the flood, are swept up by it first.

The Kanin Peninsula in Nenets Autonomous Area. The isthmus is too marshy to cross in summer, and poses a substantial obstacle to reindeer herders who spend the summer on the peninsula and the winter in the south (Image: Wikimedia Commons).

Crisis-Prevention in the Face of Disbelief
Among the many presentations at the international conference held on the banks of the North Dvina (which will be published here), was that of NIBR’s own Martin Lund-Iversen, who addressed the subject of climate change adaptation in Norway. Taking as a point of departure that no matter who is really to blame, global warming is indeed occurring and adaptation hence needed, Lund-Iversen described the specific problems of Norway – which turn out to be rather similar to the ones northern Russia may expect: more precipitation, more extreme rain events, permafrost melting, rising sea levels, larger floods, surface draining with extreme rain, and landslides.

Part of the Norwegian conundrum is how to best balance and clarify responsibilities between municipalities, central authorities and developers. While standards are on the way up and municipalities are increasingly aware of the problematic, it appears that the idea of climate change laissez-faire is on the increase among Norwegian mayors, who are getting lessconcerned. Lund-Iversen linked this to the global discourse of skepticism towards climate change, which we as mentioned also heard more than a few times in Arkhangelsk.

Manmade or Not: Adaptation is Needed
During our stay in Arkhangelsk, our research team has learnt much about similarities and differences between mechanisms and discourses in several different countries’ and localities’ attempts to map out and adapt to climate change. We wish to thank the organizers of the conference, the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Barents Euro-Arctic Region’s Working Group on the Environment, for our opportunity to experience this interesting, well-organized and important event. We will carry this experience with us into new projects on climate change adaptation in northern areas, which seems set to become a hot topic in the future, as the politicians, administrators and academics of the world gradually warm to the idea.

Arkhangelsk and the Northern Dvina in summer (image: Wikimedia Commons).

Urbanisation workshop at NIBR

URBAN GOVERNANCE, VULNERABILITY AND RESILIENCE IN CITIES IN THE SOUTH

Workshop at NIBR, 17 March 2011

In 2005 EADI (European Association of Development Institutes) established a Working Group on Urban Governance. NIBR researchers have been one of the coordinators of this group from its inception. This year EADI will have its general conference in York 19-22 September 2011, and more than 20 papers have been accepted for the urban governance sessions at the conference. NIBR researchers also collaborate with EADI and Dutch and French researchers in a large research project Urban Chances – City Growth and the Sustainability Challenge(Chance2Sustain) funded under the EU 7FP. In preparations for the EADI conference NIBR will together with EADI Working Group on Urban Governance and the Chance2Sustain project organise a 1-day seminar at NIBR on Urban governance, vulnerability and resilience in cities in the South in Oslo Thursday 17 March 2010.

There is no registration but you need to register for lunch at nibr@nibr.no

Contact person: berit.aasen@nibr.no.

Venue: NIBR, The Science Park/CIENS (Forskningsparken/CSIENS)), Gaustadalleen 21, 0439 Oslo (Blindern Subway station)

PROGRAMME:

10 – 11 Session 1: Urban dynamics, politics and poverty reduction

Berit Aasen/Einar Braathen, NIBR: Introductory remarks

Isa Baud, University of Amsterdam: Spatializing knowledge in urban governance.

Isabelle Milbert, Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies (GIIDS), University of Geneva: Decentralisation and anti-poverty policies: a not-so-evident partnership.

11 – 12.00 Session 2. Climate change, vulnerability and urban poor

Trond Vedeld, NIBR, Climate change adaptation in African cities, the analytical framework for the study of urban governance and planning in CLUVA, a EU FP7 research project 2011-2013.

Ansa Masaud, UN-Habitat, Urban governance and emergencies. (tbc)

David Sattertwaite, IIED, How can urban climate change adaptation plans get local government on board in cities in the South? (tbc)

12 – 13 Lunch at NIBR

13 – 14 Session 1: Round table discussion: Development aid, urban governance and research. A European perspective?

14 – 16 Session 3: Urban politics and informality

David Jordhus-Lier, NIBR and Marianne Milstein, University of Oslo/ Human Geography:Making communities work? Casual labour practices and local civil society dynamics in Delft, Cape Town

Onyanta Adama-Ajonye, Nordic Institute of African Studies (NAI), Uppsala, Beyond Dysfunctionality: an insight into the informal sector recycling in Kaduna, Nigeria

Inge Tvedten, CMI: Mozambique, poverty reduction and urban revolt?

Brazil: Successful Country, Failed Cities?

What has been termed the “worst natural disaster in Brazil for decades” is, at closer scrutiny, more manmade than ‘natural’. In the rather successful state of Brazil, several city areas resemble failed states.

By Einar Braathen

Brazil’s development during the last ten years in the economic, social and political areas has been impressive. The country has the world’s fifth largest surface area, the fifth biggest population, and soon the fifth biggest economy. However, the floods and mudslides that took place after heavy rain on January 11-12, reveal some major structural vulnerabilities of this emerging world power.

What has been termed the “worst natural disaster in Brazil for decades” is, at closer scrutiny, more manmade than ‘natural’. And then I don’t refer to the climate changes that might have caused the extreme rainfalls (a month’s worth of rain fell in just eight hours). What is man-made in Brazil is the state failure at the local level, particularly around the big cities. This state failure puts the poorest layers of the urban population at a big risk.

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Rio de Janeiro – a Divided City
This weakness is most exposed in Rio de Janeiro. On the one hand the city makes fierce investments for the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and Olympic Games in 2016. The city centre and the upper middle class areas of Copacabana, Ipanema and Barra de Tijuca will more than ever be some of the most attractive residential places on earth.

On the other, the shanty towns. Endless ‘favelas’ with illegal, irregular and/or precarious human settlements. Ruled by armed gangs, ‘crack’ being the most important trade, almost no presence of public service delivery. No rule-of-law, no public regulation. No wonder that most houses are built on slopes, under mountains or at riversides and henceforth affected by floods every year, every rain season. These plots are no-man’s land, not allowed for private estates to develop exactly because they are hazard areas.

(Image: Einar Braathen)

The Poor Die First
As a consequence their market values are very low – the reason why poor people settle down there. This is particularly the case in the suburban periphery in the mountainous areas north and north-east of the city of Rio de Janeiro. The majority of the victims of the floods this year come from this area – towns such as Nova Friburgo, Teresópolis and Petrópolis. More than 1000 people are likely to have died. 13 400 people have lost or abandoned their homes in the disaster.

The President’s First Test
The new president Dilma Rousseff from the Workers Party (PT) came quickly to the scene, in a helicopter. In the elections on October 30 the overwhelming majority of the people in the areas now affected by the floods voted for her. This was the first big test as a president of her skills in crisis management. She passed that test. The Government has sent in adequate aid in terms of military rescue forces, health personnel and cash to families that lost all their belongings. An inter-ministerial task force coordinates the various federal contributions.

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Reforming the Disaster Area
The president has also ordered actions with more long-term governance implications. Lack of physical planning and regulation has, correctly, been blamed for the scope of the disaster. Changes in the City Statutes will be proposed to the Congress. The obligation to draw a Master Plan for housing development and land use will be imposed on all municipalities, not only on those with more than 20 000 inhabitants as it is today.

In addition, the federal government has already allocated 140 billion reais (nearly USD 90 billion) to improve the urban infra-structures (paved roads, street lighting, water and sanitation) as part of the giant Program for Accelerated Growth (PAC). In Rio de Janeiro, most of these investments will be in partnerships with the state governor and city mayor who contribute with additional money and human resources.

Ungovernable Shantytowns?
However, a few basic governance problem need to be solved before Brazil’s metropolitan regions can reach an acceptable level of resilience against future disasters.

First, legitimate state authority has to be introduced in the shantytowns. It may start with permanent and effective police presence. Since 2007, Rio de Janeiro has seen several spectacular military invasion-like operations against certain shantytowns to ‘cleanse’ them from criminal gangs. The problem has been that new gangs, sometimes recruited from the police forces themselves, fill the vacuum and take over the drug trafficking. The political corruption involved in this process has been sharply and thrillingly depicted by the most seen Brazilian movie ever, Tropa de Elite 2 (‘Elite Squad 2’, 2010).

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

The Paradox of Brazilian Democracy
A more structural-constitutional problem seem to be that democracy in Brazil does not reach the sub-city level. There are no elected local governments in the shantytowns to represent the residents who are sick and tired of the criminal gangs, the violent and/or corrupt police and the city hall hacks. There are no legitimate authorities to support federal initiatives to improve the quality of life in the shantytowns.

his is a paradox since Brazil is world famous for its many participatory democracy mechanisms. Unfortunately, the Porto Alegre-style ‘participatory budgeting’ has never taken root in the important metropolitan regions such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The federal constitution of 1988 and the City Statutes of 2007 prescribe deliberative policy making conferences and councils of civil society representatives. Regrettably, they do not reach below the city municipal level.

Segregated City Regions
The second large governance problem is that Rio de Janeiro and other large city regions, with millions of people, are spatially segregated along social and political lines. The richest 20 per cent of the city region tend to reside in gated communities (high buildings) in the city centre, or at least in certain clusters within the municipal borders of the ‘original’ city.

The poorest millions in each urban region live in what the Brazilians call a peripheria, in recently established and more fragmented municipalities in the periphery of the urban region. The coordination between the ‘original’ city and the other ‘newer’ municipalities is never very effective. This gives more political room-for-maneuvers to the state governor, who tends to abuse it for clientelist purposes.

What comes last in this system is comprehensive urban and spatial planning. Large-scale infra-structure and housing investments for the poor, which could help prevent future floods and similar ‘natural’ disasters, remains an up-hill exercise.

Rethinking Crises: Vulnerability, Community and State in Development Research

NIBR, together with the MF Norwegian School of Theology and Diakonhjemmet University College are organizing the annual Norwegian Association for Development Research Conference (NFU Conference). NIBR hosts two workshops on the climate crisis and HIV/AIDS governance. Updates from the conference will be posted on the NIBR International Blog.

Crisis Management in Weak and Fragile States
Many societies and communities in the South are faced with multiple crises in the form of armed conflicts, HIV/AIDS, climate change and financial breakdown. Weak and fragile states and community institutions have particularly high difficulties dealing with such vulnerable situations. Societies’ ability to meet the crises at the community level are often overlooked, poorly researched into, and not used when informing national and international policies and strategies for interventions. Developing a better understanding communities’ and states resilience in situations of crisis and how this may affect their ability to withstand pressure and not develop into armed conflict or humanitarian crises, is vital.

The Dynamics behind Crises and Resilience

While many conferences recently have focussed on opportunities and new positive developments in the South, the NFU Conference 2010 will focus on how states and communities address crises and respond to them. The main emphasis will thereby not be on the crises themselves, but on the dynamics behind them, and responses to them, and how we as researchers address this research field. This new research agenda needs to link peoples’ everyday resistance to crisis, community resilience and civil organizations’ roles in building resilience, and state capacity and political settlement in peace building and society-building in post-conflict situations.

Plenary Sessions
– Plenary 1: Conflicts and political settlements: James Putzel, LSE, comments by Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona and NIBR’s Marit Haug

– Plenary 2: Religion, conflict and development: Jeffrey Haynes, UCL, comments by Stein Villumstad

– Plenary 3: Climate Change and the Urban Poor in the Global South: David Satterthwaite, IIED, comments by Karen O’Brien

– Plenary 4: Policy discussion: Silent crises, politics, mobilization and development research: Sarah Cook, Hege Hertzberg, Atle Sommerfeldt, Malcolm Langford (moderator)

See full program here.

NIBR to Host Workshops
There will be four parallel workshop sessions during the two days, two of which will be organized by NIBR. Click links for descriptions.

Rethinking the Climate Crisis: From Social Vulnerability to Social Transformation (Trond Vedeld)

Governing an Epidemic: HIV/AIDS and scales of Governance (Berit Aasen, Peris Jones, Siri Bjerkreim Hellevik).

The conference takes place at the MF building, Gydas vei 4 (Majorstua), Oslo November 25-26, 2010. Berit Aasen represents NIBR in the conferences’s organizing committee.

To download conference brochure, click icon below.

Rethinking the Climate Crisis: From Social Vulnerability to Social Transformation

Adapting to climate change is one of the most challenging and complex problems facing humanity. NIBR hosts a workshop on this issue at the 2010 NFU Conference.

by Trond Vedeld

Impacts of the Climate Crisis
Land for agriculture may be destroyed by floods and drought, water and food may become increasingly scarce, and some species and ecosystems will be negatively impacted. Poverty is likely to increase and social inequality may become more pronounced. Social and political crises can multiply in unpredictable ways, as climate change interacts with political and economic forces to reinforce human vulnerabilities and human insecurity. Living with climate change involves reconsidering our values, lifestyles and goals for the future, which are linked to our acts as individuals, communities, and governments across the globe.

A Global Transformative Process – Inconvenient or Not
Climate change stands out as among the most transformative processes of our time. Al Gore suggested in 2006 that the climate crisis is an ‘inconvenient’ crisis; one that means we are going to have to change the way we live our lives. Civil society is increasingly calling for ‘system change – not climate change’, including the promotion of a ‘sustainable transition of our societies’.

Climate Change and the Social Sciences
Climate change has mostly been researched by the natural sciences. Yet it is not simply a natural phenomenon, or an environmental problem that can be managed in isolation from larger development concerns. Rather, climate change raises a set of human security issues related to human perceptions, behaviour, rights and responsibilities, human capacity for response, and ethical and moral obligations towards the poor and vulnerable and to future generations. A stronger social science voice is now required to effectively respond to the complexities of these global issues and their potentially severe social consequences.
If social scientists are to play a key role in meeting these complex challenges, they need to play a much larger and more visible role, working across disciplinary and organisational boundaries, across issues and methodologies, and across national and regional borders.

New Questions about Climate Change

This panel is to shed new light on the climate crisis, including how we as researchers conceptualize climate change, and its social and political impacts and implications for adaptation and mitigation. What is the character of the climate crisis? How are different perspectives on the crisis framed by social and natural sciences? How do we relate to the emerging paradigm shift from a focus on climate change impacts and social vulnerability to a focus on the enabling conditions for positive social transformation? What are some of the barriers towards social transformation and human security at different levels? How do we build a coordinated capacity to think about the future in a different manner? The panel hopes to present novel conceptual frameworks for exploring processes and relationships that define the climate crisis, including the concept of human security, while revealing opportunities for generating positive responses and coordinated actions towards a more equitable, resilient and sustainable future.

The workshop takes place on Friday November 26 2010 at the MF building, (Gydas vei 4, Majorstua, Oslo); and is coordinated by the author of this post. More info here.

Read more about the NFU conference, where NIBR also organizes a workshop on Governing an Epidemic (HIV/AIDS).

Read more posts on the subject Climate and Environment, written by NIBR researchers.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.