Thursday 8
Adaptation & mitigation
Bruno Locatelli
› 10:25 - 11:20 (55min)
› Barthez
Resilience and Transformation: Analysis at the Boundaries of Adaptation and Mitigation
Catherine Butler  1@  
1 : Cardiff University  -  Website
70 Park Place Cardiff, CF10 3AT -  Royaume-Uni

In the context of a developed nation like the UK, concerns about the impacts of climate change and processes of adaptation intermingle with debates about mitigation and how to achieve transformations of the kinds necessary to meet emissions targets. In this paper, questions about the role of resilience thinking in addressing adaptation and mitigation issues as interconnected concerns form the focus.

In terms of climate change impacts, flooding represents a major issue for the UK with increases in both the severity and intensity of flood events in recent years (Pall et al. 2011). Research has shown that those who have experienced flooding are more concerned about climate change and are more willing to make changes commensurate with mitigation (Spence et al. 2011). In light of these findings, it appears that flood events could present opportunities for change of the forms necessary to move the UK toward climate change mitigation (Spence et al., 2011).

As understanding of the effects of experience on willingness to engage with mitigation measures has advanced, so too has UK flood and adaptation policy with a growing emphasis on resilience. The terminology of resilience increasingly intertwines with the existing forms of risk thinking that have dominated the UK's flood management activities for some time (Butler, 2008). However, it remains an open question whether the forms of resilience thinking identifiable within current discourse represent a positive move toward encompassing change initiatives in responses to major flood events, and simultaneously addressing mitigation concerns along with those that adaptation poses. In academic contexts, resilience thinking has developed to encompass notions of sustaining system function even while the system structures that produce them might need to change (Leach, 2008). There is a danger, however, that these more complex understandings of resilience, which recognise the need for transformative change as part of a resilience narrative, lose some of their meaning in the translation to policy.

This paper examines the extent to which current understandings of flooding (e.g. as a risk and resilience issue) within UK policy and wider public discourse offer potential for capitalising on the transformative opportunities that arise with flood crises. The paper draws on analysis of UK policy documents, along with focus groups and stakeholder interviews undertaken in the wake of major floods that occurred in 2007, and a 2010 national survey, to open up insight into these issues. Through the analysis, the potential for change following major flood events, and the role of resilience and risk thinking in policy for promoting or limiting transformation is explored. The evidence points to a problematic tension between the levers of adaptation, which encompass tendencies toward ‘getting back to normal', and those of mitigation, which are more closely aligned with notions of transformation. In taking forward this analysis, the paper works to develop understanding of what the growing policy discourse of resilience means for the development of approaches that address the dynamic interconnections between climate change mitigation and adaptation.


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