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Unpacking multilevel adaptation to climate change in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

By Pedro I.J. Fidelman, Anne M. Leitch and Donald R. Nelson

Abstract

Multilevel governance is regarded as a promising approach to deal with the multidimensional nature of climate change adaptation. However, the policy context in which it is implemented is very often complex and fragmented, characterised by interacting climate and non-climate strategies. An understanding of multilevel decision-making and governance is particularly important, if desired adaptation outcomes are to be achieved. This paper examines how climate change adaptation takes place in a complex multilevel system of governance, in the context of Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR) region. It examines over one hundred adaptation strategies at federal, state, regional and local levels in terms of type, manifestation, purposefulness, drivers and triggers, and geographic and temporal scope. Interactions between strategies are investigated both at the same level of governance and across governance levels. This study demonstrates that multilevel approach is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition in responding to complex multiscale and multisector issues, such as climate change adaptation. Short-term adaptation measures; a predominant incremental, sectoral, top-down approach to adaptation; and the lack of a framework for managing interactions are major threats to effective climate adaptation in the GBR region. Coping with such threats will require long-term transformative action, establishing enabling conditions to support local adaptation, and, most important, creating and maintaining strategic interactions among adaptation strategies. Coordinating and integrating climate and non-climate strategies across jurisdictions and policy sectors are the most significant and challenging tasks for multilevel governance in the GBR region and elsewhere. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved

Publisher: Pergamon
Year: 2013
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.02.016
OAI identifier: oai:researchonline.jcu.edu.au:30158
Provided by: ResearchOnline@JCU
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