Equity and Climate Change Adaptation: Toward a Better Understanding of Resource Allocation
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van den Berg, HJ
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Citationvan den Berg, HJ. 2021. Equity and Climate Change Adaptation: Toward a Better Understanding of Resource Allocation. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Design.
AbstractWith climate change adaptation becoming ever more urgent, decisions about how to allocate adaptation resources have become increasingly important. For instance, should decision-makers in flood-prone areas fund a sea wall to protect a larger community, provide subsidies to property owners to raise minimum floor heights to avoid flooding, or consider relocating a neighborhood to accommodate increased river discharges? Making these choices means evaluating and prioritizing potential responses to climate risks and understanding how they will impact communities living in these vulnerable areas. Though questions of who benefits and who is burdened apply to all public policy decisions, climate change adaptation forms a particularly challenging context due to its conditions of high urgency, existential threat, deep uncertainty, conflicting notions of justice and stakeholders’ valuation of risk and prioritization of objectives.
This doctoral research investigates how local governmental bodies are making decisions on resource allocation to address flood risk in the context of climate change adaptation and in what ways they take into account social equity in their adaptation responses. Through plan analysis of adaptation plans in the United States and the Netherlands and two in-depth case studies of the flood-prone urban regions of Houston, TX and Rotterdam in the Netherlands, I develop a set of lessons learned on equitable climate change adaptation. These lessons learned include the need for political and administrative commitment at all levels of decision-making; the effectiveness of an explicit and formal framework for equity consideration; the role of inclusive stakeholder engagement; the need for a broad and dynamic understanding of social vulnerability; the role of data in countering systemic injustice; the importance of trust, accountability, transparency and recognition of historical marginalization and injustice; and opportunities for a comprehensive assessment of benefits and costs of adaptation measures.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37369523