Collaborative Science and Learning as Tools for Climate Change Adaptation Planning

Anticipated impacts from climate change act as stressors that motivate adaptation strategy development. And, while climate science projections extend from the global to regional scale, they can leave significant uncertainty at the local scale. In many jurisdictions, governance and environmental management professionals formulate and distribute information to guide climate change policy and preparation. In many rural or otherwise marginalized areas, however, relationships needed to promote clear understanding of impacts and to tackle cooperative adaptation planning alongside residents are lacking. This paper discusses methods used by an interdisciplinary group of scientists to help a small community of rural coastal U.S. residents enhance their climate resilience. This was accomplished via participatory collaborative science and collaborative learning processes that facilitated relationships of trust among a broad group of stakeholders. Data gathered from our network and analyses of project activities show the benefits of collaboration across a social network representing the social-ecological system. The success of our efforts is evident in five ways: a) in localized application of climate and environmental knowledge, b) in building two-way knowledge across the local/ non-local divide, c) in incorporating local community values, d) developing trust between residents, scientists, and environmental governance and management professionals, and c) in lessons learned transitioning from a learning to decision making process. We strongly advocate those working with local groups on adaptation planning efforts begin with methods that help build knowledge, respect, trust, and capacity amongst residents.

Climate Action Co-benefits and Integrated Community Planning: Uncovering the Synergies and Trade-Offs

Engaging in climate action through integrated sustainability strategies can yield benefits for communities in more effective ways than through compartmentalized approaches. Such strategies can result in co-benefits, that is, community benefits that occur from acting on climate change that extend beyond mitigation and adaptation. For example, creating more walkable cities can be a strategy for reducing greenhouse gases, but can also lead to healthier communities. Climate strategies with co-benefits can result in “win-win” situations and thus improve practices for integrated community planning. However, this planning approach also presents challenges because it requires understanding complex relationships between community development practices and identifying synergies. In addition, some co-benefit strategies may also have associated challenges and trade-offs. This research examines climate action co-benefits and trade-offs in order to develop a comprehensive picture of the relationships and potential effects of implementing certain plans and strategies. The research consisted of collecting data on climate action efforts occurring in eleven BC (Canada) communities and coding it to identify climate strategies, co-benefits, challenges, and trade-offs. Relationships between codes were then identified through a coding matrix, and these were used to build a series of models that illustrate co-benefits, challenges, and trade-offs associated with local climate action. Each model centered on a particular area of climate action, including energy innovation, urban densification, mixed-use and downtown revitalization, building stock, ecological capital, trails and transportation, and waste and water. The models provide a holistic impression of the advantages and disadvantages associated with different plans and strategies, which in turn can guide both quantitative analyses and qualitative explorations that contribute toward integrated community planning and decision-making.

How Do Students Perceive and Evaluate Responses to Climate Change?

Impacts of climate change are increasingly felt in our daily lives. Although scepticism is still found among certain social groups, most lay discourses show awareness of the current environmental challenges. In order to move forward and develop action plans to mitigate and adapt to climate change, young people are an important voice to be heard. This research article tackles questions pertaining to the relation between climate change communication, education, and social perception of science, exploring social and cultural representations of climate change through the discourses of young people. Fieldwork involved eight focus groups conducted in Brazil, Mexico, Portugal, and Spain with a total of fifty higher education students of experimental/natural sciences and engineering and of social sciences and humanities. Discussions were organized around sixteen images referring to the causes, consequences, and responses to climate change. Without significant differences between knowledge areas or countries, findings point to awareness of multiple types of responses to climate change, even though students’ analyses were more grounded on common culture than on solid scientific evidence and language. Adaptation strategies were more rarely mentioned than mitigation actions. A strong emphasis was put on barriers to response implementation. Moderate optimism regarding some possible responses was impaired by distrust regarding the political and economic systems leading to calls for transformation at multiple levels.