, Volume 18, Issue 7, pp 1001-1018
Date: 18 Jul 2012

Engaging stakeholders in an adaptation process: governance and institutional arrangements in heat-health policy development in Adelaide, Australia

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Abstract

Record breaking heat waves have been recorded in Adelaide, Australia in recent years and climate change would likely increase the frequency, duration and severity of heat waves. This paper describes the governance and institutional arrangements during the development of an adaptation strategy (herein referred to as heat-health policy) for heat waves in Adelaide, Australia. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted between June and August 2011 among 18 stakeholders who were involved in the participatory process during the development of the heat-health policy. Informed consent was obtained and interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and the data analysed using framework analysis. Interview data were supplemented by data gathered through a review of documents associated with the process. The results found that the process of developing the heat-health policy was initiated by the state government and comprised of stakeholders from both the state and non-state sectors. There was a high level of leadership and political commitment demonstrated during the process, given that the different players wanted a policy to be in place before any future heat wave. A Steering Committee was established that provided coordination and oversight in addition to the Emergency Management Act within the state which provided the legislative framework during the heat-health policy development process. Although the decision-making authority was controlled by a controlled by a public institution, to a larger extent, there was collaborative decision-making by virtue of the context in which the heat-health policy was developed. An assurance mechanism established during the process was among the factors that ensured accountability during the participatory process. Overall, the development of the heat-health policy in Adelaide was largely successful, attributed to the extent of political commitment from the state government and the sound institutional and legislative framework that facilitated the process. Good governance and institutional arrangements provide the enabling environment, the structures, systems and resources that would facilitate the development of adaptation strategies such as heat-health policies.