Understanding Perceptions of Climate Change and Resilience in the City of Courtenay, British Columbia
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Faced with extreme weather events like flooding and challenges like sea-level rise, cities across the globe are devising strategies to adapt to climate change. Climate change risk perceptions amongst the public have been recognized as important factors influencing their support for various adaptation strategies. It has garnered a lot of attention amongst researchers due to increased focus on democratization and public participation in the last few decades. However, despite being recognized as a key factor influencing climate change adaptation strategies in cities, municipal officials' climate change risk perception has only garnered limited attention. Accordingly, the main objective of this thesis is to understand the factors influencing city officials' climate change risk perceptions and their influence on climate adaptation strategies, using the City of Courtenay as a case study. Another objective was to observe any emerging relationship risk perception and resilience constructs in the City. I reviewed 182 City documents to gain an understanding of climate risk perception, and the adaptation actions within Courtenay. Similarly, I reviewed 54 documents to understand the framing of resilience and identify resilience actions within the City. I also conducted semi-structured interviews with five senior municipal officials from various departments within the City to discern how they perceived climate risk, and how they understood resilience. My findings indicate that climate risk perceptions of officials are influenced by personal experiences, as well as three kinds of knowledge: 1) knowledge of the climate adaptation measures taken by the City (responses); 2) knowledge of climate change projections (future); and, 3) knowledge of what and whom will be impacted in their community (impacts). Further, I found that the climate risk perceptions of officials are reflected in a greater extent in the City documents, and most adaptation actions in the City address the climate hazards identified. I also found that officials' risk perceptions and professional and educational background play an important role in how officials understand resilience. Further, most resilience actions fall under climate adaptation actions in the City. These findings demonstrate the importance of officials' perceptions when it comes to climate adaptation planning and makes a case for a risk-perception based approach for adaptation planning in cities.
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Vignesh Murugesan (2020). Understanding Perceptions of Climate Change and Resilience in the City of Courtenay, British Columbia. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/16319