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Climate change and its socio-political consequences. Patrina Dumaru Institute of Applied Science USP. Outline. 1. Adaptation 2. Social Justice 3. Identity 4. Adaptation Aid. 1. Adaptation.

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climate change and its socio political consequences

Climate change and its socio-political consequences

Patrina Dumaru

Institute of Applied Science



1. Adaptation

2. Social Justice

3. Identity

4. Adaptation Aid

1 adaptation
1. Adaptation

Adaptation: an action taken to reduce vulnerability (e.g. building a seawall to control coastal erosion from sea level rise)

Adaptive capacity: the ability to take action to reduce vulnerability (e.g. training communities to sustainably manage their water supply)

1 adaptation4
1. Adaptation

Some key elements of adaptive capacity according to the literature:

  • Economic resources (to pay for adaptation)
  • Awareness and Information (identification of problems and knowledge of solutions)
  • Technology (the tools needed to adapt)
  • Skilled labour (the ability to use available technologies)
  • Infrastructure (the means by which the services, information, and resources needed to adapt reach communities)
2 social justice
2. Social Justice

Who are the most vulnerable to climate change?

People or groups of people who are:

- highly exposed to biophysical risks

- sensitive to these risks

- have little capacity to manage and recover from them

- periphery of economic and political power

- least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions

- most insecure from the effects of emissions.

(Barnett 2009)

2 social justice6
2. Social Justice

Rural, poor and resource dependent communities may be categorised as the most vulnerable

One way of ensuring adaptation that is equitable is to ensure that adaptation occurs at the community-level “as communities respond to the localised manifestations of emerging climate risks” (Heltberg et. al, 2009)

In Fiji (and other Pacific Islands) most communities are resource dependent and so are sensitive to climate change

- and most are not well supported by government, so the means for adaptation will have to come from within communities

3 identity
3. Identity

“Many of us today are not directly or personally dependent on the sea for our livelihood and would probably get seasick as soon as we set foot on a rocking boat. This means only that we are no longer sea travellers or fishers. But as long as we live on our islands we remain very much under the spell of the sea; we cannot avoid it.”

(Epeli Hau’ofa, 2008, The Ocean in Us)

3 identity8
3. Identity

Lessons from the travelling circus . . .

Loring’s (2007) study of the many forms taken by the circus over the past 150 years – enduring the American Civil War, WWII, The Great Depression, changing attitudes towards animals and human rights.

“ . . .circuses have changed significantly while sustaining a singular identity.”

3 identity9
3. Identity

“If a sustainable social-ecological system is indeed one that both changes and persists, the test of that persistence, therefore, is not simply whether a pre-defined set of structures remain, but whether or not stakeholders continue to recognise, respect, and feel a belonging to the system after change has happened”

4 adaptation aid
4. Adaptation Aid
  • Aid level rise for climate change adaptation e.g. – US$80 million to be mobilised by SPREP (PACC)

- AU$150million by Australian Govt

  • Niue study (Barnett 2009) found that aid for adaptation has the potential to increase vulnerability if not delivered with care and purpose. The study looked at the influence of aid on financial resources (to pay for adaptation) and governance (how well society can steer the adaptation process and how legitimate the process is).
4 adaptation aid11
4. Adaptation Aid

Foreign aid has significantly shaped the social political landscape of Oceania and some studies have shown the negative implications of aid to the sustainability of the region.

some questions to consider
Some questions to consider . .

So we need to ask ourselves:

1. How do we ensure that adaptation efforts respond to the capacity needs of the most vulnerable in our region?

2. What are the conerstones of an Oceanian identity that should be protected and/or enhanced in the adaptation process?

3. Do we have the capacity to match the influx of adaptation aid to deliver adaptation activities in the region in a way that is meaningful and sustainable? . . . And within the programme time schedule?

4. What are some key lessons from previous discussion on foreign development aid in the region that needs to be addressed in climate change adaptation funding mechanism in the region?


Barnett, J. 2009. ‘Justice and Adaptation to Climate Change’, in Moss, J (ed.), Climate Change and Social Justice. Melbourne University Press.

Hau’ofa, E. 2008, ‘The Ocean In Us’, in Hau’ofa E (ed.), We Are the Ocean: Selected Works, University of Hawaii Press.

Hedger M., Mitchell T., Leavy J., Greeley M., Downie A. and Horrocks L., 2008, Desk Review: Evaluation of Adaptation to Climate Change from a Development Perspective, A study conducted by IDS, commissioned by GEF Evaluation Office and financed by DFID.

Loring P. 2007. ‘The Most Resilient Show on Earth: The Circus as a Model for Viewing Identity, Change and Chaos’, Ecology and Society, 12 (1): 9