Public participation and climate change adaptation

TitlePublic participation and climate change adaptation
Publication TypeTyndall Working Paper
SeriesTyndall Centre Working Papers
Tyndall Consortium Institution


Secondary TitleTyndall Centre Working Paper 95
Keywordsclimate change adaptation, Public participation
AuthorsFew, R., K. Brown, and E. Tompkins
Year of Publication2006

Public participation is commonly advocated in policy responses to climate change. Here we discuss prospects for inclusive approaches to adaptation, drawing particularly on studies of long-term coastal management in the UK and elsewhere. We affirm that public participation is an important normative goal in formulating response to climate change risks, but argue that its practice must be sensitive to existing critiques of participatory processes from other contexts. Involving a wide range of stakeholders in decision-making presents fundamental challenges for climate policy, many of which are embedded in relations of power. In the case of anticipatory response to climate change, these challenges become magnified because of the long-term and uncertain nature of the problem. Without due consideration of these issues, a tension between principles of public participation and anticipatory adaptation is likely to emerge and may result in an overly-managed form of inclusion that is unlikely to satisfy either participatory or instrumental goals. Alternative, more narrowly instrumental approaches to participation are more likely to succeed in this context, as long as the scope and limitations of public involvement are made explicit from the outset.

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