Exploring the Linkages Between Planning and the Barriers to Climate Change Adaptation in Caribbean Small Island Developing States
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The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report indicates that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Furthermore, there is a considerable adaptation deficit in SIDS which must be addressed to reduce their vulnerability to the effects of climate change, including climate variability. This adaptation deficit can be attributed to the barriers to planned adaptation which exist in SIDS, notably the lack of adequate financial, technical and human resources, institutional and governance deficiencies, and poor leadership among other barriers. Spatial development planning is widely recognized as one of the major avenues which can be used to pursue adaptation. However, research on the barriers to adaptation in SIDS does not sufficiently examine the barriers in relation to the formal planning frameworks which support the development and implementation of adaptation policies. This has constrained our understanding of how the barriers to adaptation are actually manifested in planning practice. Quantitative and qualitative data were gathered for this research using a three-pronged mixed method approach. This involved a survey with public planners from Caribbean SIDS (n = 51), content analysis of national vision and spatial development plans, as well as national climate change policies (n = 23), and semi-structured interviews with senior national policy makers from Caribbean SIDS (n = 21). The research examines the development of adaptation planning at the regional, national, and local levels in Caribbean SIDS to ascertain the advances that have been made and the aspects of adaptation that are lacking. The research then identifies and assesses the barriers to adaptation in Caribbean SIDS using, in part, Moser & Ekstrom’s (2010) diagnostic framework for assessing the barriers to adaptation. The barriers to adaptation are analyzed within the context of the planning frameworks which exist at the regional, national, and local levels in Caribbean SIDS. In addition, the barriers are examined in relation to the stages involved in a rational oriented adaptation planning process. This facilitated an understanding of how the barriers to adaptation are manifested during the different stages of the adaptation planning process, as undertaken in Caribbean SIDS. Three clusters of findings emanated from this research. The first relates to the state of adaptation planning in Caribbean SIDS. The second pertains to the barriers to adaptation in Caribbean SIDS. The third focuses on the linkages between the barriers to adaptation and the spatial development planning frameworks and processes through which adaptation policies are mediated. Regarding the current state of adaptation planning in Caribbean SIDS, the research findings indicate that although adaptation planning is evolving into a policy niche, formal capacity building to support adaptation is mainly taking place at national and regional levels in Caribbean SIDS. The requisite institutional and governance capabilities do not exist at the municipal or community level to allow for substantive adaptation planning to take place. Consequently, local adaptation planning is limited to the ad hoc implementation of donor-funded projects which are not sustainable in the long term. The research findings also revealed that the adaptation planning landscape within Caribbean SIDS is not only characterized by fragmentation with regards to adaptation projects, but also by the simultaneous existence of institutional crowdedness, and institutional voids. For example, in some cases, critical legislation and policies are lacking. In other cases, there are multiple overlapping policies and administrative mandate. In addition, the adaptation planning response in Caribbean SIDS largely addresses the physical dimensions of climate vulnerability, while ignoring the social and economic factors which contribute to vulnerability. In terms of the barriers to adaptation planning in Caribbean SIDS, the research findings suggest that the barriers to adaptation originate from multiple combined sources, e.g. conflicts and power imbalances among the actors involved in adaptation planning, ineffective institutional and governance arrangements, and the inherent complexity of vulnerable human and natural systems. Likewise, most of the barriers to adaptation are highly interrelated and cannot be understood or addressed in isolation from each other. While identification and ranking of the barriers to adaptation facilitated ease of analysis, qualitatively assessing the causal linkages between the barriers provided better insights into how to address the barriers. Concerning the linkages between the barriers to adaptation and the planning frameworks in Caribbean SIDS, the key findings point to the inclusion of climate change adaptation on the planning agenda as outlined in high-level national vision plans and policies. However, adaptation is largely ignored in medium term socio-economic policy frameworks which function as the default planning agenda in Caribbean SIDS. Despite the presence of a Regional Framework to guide climate change adaptation and mitigation within CARICOM member states, the national level is where substantive planning agendas are developed and strategic policies formulated. The Regional Framework is not legally binding on CARICOM member states and is to a large extent operationalized through the independent actions of national governments within CARICOM. The research findings also revealed that barriers to adaptation are likely to arise simultaneously rather than in a stepwise linear fashion as normatively depicted in the adaptation planning literature. Likewise, barriers to adaptation are best understood in relation to the entire planning process, rather than the individual stages. Existing barriers to adaptation, even when seemingly dominant within a particular stage of the adaptation planning process, create new barriers which have a domino effect on the entire adaptation planning process. This necessitates treating the adaptation planning process more like a series of simultaneous interrelated activities, rather than a rigid linear sequence of events. Theoretical contributions derived from the research findings focus on the application of the rational planning model, incremental planning, and multi-level governance to adaptation planning in Caribbean SIDS. The major takeaway for practice is the need to develop an incremental approach to adaptation planning which facilitates the integration of climate change into short and medium-term planning policies. This is essential to lay the foundation for the long-term transformative change which adaptation requires.
Cite this version of the work
Dellarue Howard (2018). Exploring the Linkages Between Planning and the Barriers to Climate Change Adaptation in Caribbean Small Island Developing States. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/13288