The role of civil society actors in climate change adaptation

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The topic of this contribution are the efforts at building resilience in New York City in the post-Sandy era. A special emphasis is on the role played by civil society actors in the different resilience plans and practices. In order to analyze this role a theoretical framework called ‘the interactionism approach’ was constructed building on a model depicting levels and scopes of actor involvement developed by Hoff & Gausset (2016) and the idea of a ‘resilience cycle’ developed by Nikpour and Lendal (2016) making it possible to analyze barriers to resilience at different levels. Using this theoretical framework, we found that the NYC resiliency plans do not move decisively beyond the ’consultation’ type of actor involvement. Looking more specifically at actions/processes, we saw that even though a lot of attention is given to local communities including their businesses, etc. this has not resulted in a real delegation of more responsibilities to these communities or in more and better facilitation of citizen-driven initiatives. This was seen as a barrier to resilience building in NYC at the system-level. Other barriers to involvement of civil society actors were found to be – at the agency level – the inequity in access to different kind of resources – economic as well as political - among individuals and communities. Such inequity gives rise to different levels of vulnerability in different areas of the city. At the institutional level, the biggest barriers to resilience building were found to be that that there is too little real support for community-based groups and too little facilitation of citizen-driven initiatives. The community boards also seem to have too few competencies and resources to be able to act as an important force in (local) resilience building. Finally, at the system level the lack of delegation of responsibilities and facilitation of citizen-driven initiatives is as barrier. In addition, one can point to a (local) political economy as a barrier, as it creates huge differences in incomes and wealth, which diminishes the capacities of both individuals and communities to build resilience both for themselves and for their communities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInstitutional Capacity for Climate Change Response : A New Approach to Climate Politics
EditorsTheresa Scavenius, Steve P. Rayner
Number of pages16
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Publication date15 Dec 2017
ISBN (Print)9781138120983
ISBN (Electronic)9781315651354
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2017

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - climate change adaptation, resilience, New York City, actor involvement, interactionism approach, resilience cycle, key resources, community boards, community groups

ID: 209599554