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Power, Contextual Intelligence and Leadership: Research Approaches for Understanding Participatory Community Climate Change Adaptation

By Bradley K May


Analysis of power in natural resources management is important as multiple stakeholders interact within complex, social-ecological systems. As a sub-set of these interactions, community climate change adaptation is increasingly using participatory processes to address issues of local concern. While some attention has been paid to power relations in this respect, e.g. evaluating international climate regimes or assessing vulnerability as part of integrated impact assessments, little attention has been paid to how a structured assessment of power could facilitate real adaptation and increase the potential for successful participatory processes. This paper surveys how the concept of power is currently being applied in natural resources management and links these ideas to agency and leadership for climate change adaptation. By exploring behavioural research on destructive leadership, a model is developed for informing participatory climate change adaptation. The working paper then concludes with a discussion of developing research questions in two specific areas - examining barriers to adaptation and mapping the evolution of specific participatory processes for climate change adaptation.This report is the result of the thoughtful input of a number of colleagues. I would like to especially thank Ryan Plummer and fellow researchers at the Brock University Environmental Sustainability Research Centre for their support and guidance. In addition, Derek Armitage and Mark Andrachuk from the University of Waterloo, Environmental Change and Governance Group provided important insights. This topic has benefited from discussions with Adam Fenech, Director, Climate Centre at the University of Prince Edward Island during a climate change adaptation leadership workshop in July 2012. Finally, thanks also to ESRC reviewer Tim Heinmiller

Topics: Power; agency; contextual intelligence; leadership; adaptation; climate change
Year: 2013
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