Advertisement

Ambio

pp 1–8 | Cite as

From community-based to locally led adaptation: Evidence from Vanuatu

  • Ross Westoby
  • Karen E. McNamaraEmail author
  • Roselyn Kumar
  • Patrick D. Nunn
Perspective
  • 46 Downloads

Abstract

The Green Climate Fund, donors, governments and non-governmental organisations, among others, are pouring vast amounts of financial and human capital into community-based adaptation across the developing world. The underlying premise is that the world’s majority—who have the minority of financial capital—are living on the margins and are the most vulnerable and at risk from climate change. Such a reality, coupled with a deficit understanding of the majority world, is resulting in significant implications for how the ‘adaptation industry’ (those that fund, design and implement projects) go about their work. Drawing on research evaluating 15 community-based adaptation projects in Vanuatu we found that despite genuine attempts, projects invariably fell short of success, longevity and sustainability. We argue that the indifferent, albeit variable, success of most projects is attributable to the construction of the geographical scale of ‘community-based’ and the deficit view flowing down to the ‘community’ through hubris policy, funding guidelines and individual implementers. Our findings show that ‘experts’ are working in Pacific communities, conducting assessments that involve asking what ‘community’ needs are, going away to design projects, coming back and implementing projects, which communities are inevitably challenged to sustain once funding has ceased. We postulate that these limitations stem from such a formation of adaptation work that pejoratively fails to see Pacific Islanders in situ as the best litmus test of their own agendas, needs, aspirations and futures and in the best position to make decisions for themselves about what and how they might become more resilient. We claim from a growing body of evidence and new frontiers in research that, rather than adaptation being ‘community-based’, it needs to be ‘locally led’, not limited to ‘communities’, and should take place across different entry points and incorporate, as appropriate, elements of autonomous/Indigenous peoples ownership.

Keywords

Climate change Community-based adaptation Developing countries Vanuatu 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the participants for providing valuable and meaningful insights in this study. We also wish to thank our local research assistant who was instrumental in organising fieldwork logistics and providing translation. This research was funded through an Australian Research Council Linkage grant (number LP160100941).

References

  1. Adger, W.N. 2003. Social capital, collective action, and adaptation to climate change. Economic Geography 79: 387–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ayers, J., and T. Forsyth. 2009. Community-based adaptation to climate change. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development 51: 22–31.Google Scholar
  3. Barnett, J. 2008. The effect of aid on capacity to adapt to climate change: Insights from Niue. Political Science 60: 31–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barnett, J., and J. Campbell. 2010. Climate change and small island states: Power, knowledge and the South Pacific. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  5. Barnett, J., and S. O’Neill. 2010. Maladaptation. Global Environmental Change 20: 211–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berkes, F., and D. Jolly. 2001. Adapting to climate change: Social-ecological resilience in a Canadian Western Arctic Community. Conservation Ecology 5: 18–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Betzold, C. 2016. Aid and adaptation to climate change in Pacific Island Countries. Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper 46. Crawford School of Public Policy, Canberra, Australian National University.Google Scholar
  8. BOM & CSIRO. 2014. Climate variability, extremes and change in the western tropical pacific: New science and updated country reports. Canberra, ACT: Australian Government.Google Scholar
  9. Bours, D., C. McGinn, and P. Pringle. 2013. Monitoring & evaluation for climate change adaptation: A synthesis of tools, frameworks and approaches, SEA change CoP. Oxford: Phnom Penh and UKCIP.Google Scholar
  10. Buggy, L., and K.E. McNamara. 2016. The need to reinterpret “community” for climate change adaptation: A case study of Pele Island, Vanuatu. Climate and Development 8: 270–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bulley, D. 2013. Producing and Governing Community (through) Resilience. Politics 33: 265–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Campbell, J.R. 1990. Disasters and development in historical context: Tropical cyclone response in the banks islands of northern Vanuatu. International Journal of Mass Emergency Disasters 8: 401–424.Google Scholar
  13. Clarke, T., K.E. McNamara, R. Clissold, and P.D. Nunn. 2019. Community-based adaptation to climate change: Lessons from Tanna Island, Vanuatu. Island Studies 14: 59–80.Google Scholar
  14. Conway, D., and J. Mustelin. 2014. Strategies for improving adaptation practice in developing countries. Nature Climate Change 4: 339–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dodman, D., and D. Mitlin. 2013. Challenges for community-based adaptation: Discovering the potential for transformation. Journal of International Development 25: 640–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dumaru, P. 2010. Community-based adaptation: Enhancing community adaptive capacity in Druadrua Island, Fiji. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 1: 751–763.Google Scholar
  17. Dutta, D. 2009. Elite capture and corruption: Concepts and definitions. New Delhi: National Centre of Applied Economic Research.Google Scholar
  18. Ensor, J. 2016. Resilience realities: Resilience and development practice in Vanuatu, Oxfam, Vanuatu. http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/124325/1/Resilience_Report_Web_2_.pdf. Accessed 4 Feb 2019.
  19. Ensor, J., and R. Berger. 2009. Understanding climate change adaptation: Lessons from community-based approaches. Warwickshire: Practical Action Pub.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Faulkner, L., J. Ayers, and S. Huq. 2015. Meaningful measurement for community-based adaptation. In Monitoring and evaluation of climate change adaptation: A review of the landscape. New directions for evaluation, eds. D. Bours, C. McGinn, and P. Pringle, vol. 147, 89–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fenton, A., et al. 2014. Up-scaling finance for community-based adaptation. Climate and Development 6: 388–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fforde, C., L. Bamblett, R. Lovett, S. Gorringe, and B. Fogarty. 2013. Discourse, deficit and identity: Aboriginality, the race paradigm, and the language of representation in contemporary Australia. Media International Australia 149: 162–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fogarty, W., M. Lovell, J. Langenberg, and M.-J. Heron. 2018. Deficit discourse and strengths-based approaches: Changing the narrative of aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. Melbourne: The Lowitja Institute.Google Scholar
  24. Hagelsteen, M., and P. Becker. 2013. Challenging disparities in capacity development for disaster risk reduction. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 3: 4–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hedger, M. M., T. Mitchell, J. Leavy, M. Greeley, A. Downie, and L. Horrock. 2008. Evaluation of adaptation to climate change from a development perspective, desk review. Institute of Development Studies (IDS).Google Scholar
  26. Heintz, H., L. Kirch, B. Kuppers, H. Mann, F. Mischo, P. Mucke, T. Pazdzierny, R. Prutz, et al. 2018. World Risk Report 2018, Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft and Ruhr University Bochum, Berlin, Germany. https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/WorldRiskReport-2018.pdf. Accessed 4 Feb 2019.
  27. Heltberg, R., P.B. Siegel, and S.L. Jorgensen. 2009. Addressing human vulnerability to climate change: Toward a ‘no-regrets’ approach. Global Environmental Change 19: 89–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Juhola, S., E. Glaas, B.O. Linnér, and T.S. Neset. 2016. Redefining maladaptation. Environmental Science & Policy 55: 135–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kirkby, P., C. Williams, and S. Huq. 2017. Community-based adaptation (CBA): Adding conceptual clarity to the approach, and establishing its principles and challenges. Climate and Development 10: 577–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Klöck, C., and P. Nunn. 2019. Adaptation to climate change in small island developing states: A systematic literature review of academic research. The Journal of Environment and Development 28: 196–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kretzmann, J.P., and J.L. McKnight. 1993. Building communities from the inside out: A path toward finding and mobilizing a community’s assets. Chicago: Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research, Northwestern University.Google Scholar
  32. Laure, M. 2017. Changing understandings of local knowledge in island environments. Environmental Conservation 44: 336–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mansuri, G., and V. Rao. 2004. Community-based and -driven development: A critical review. The World Bank Research Observer 19: 1–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mathie, A., and G. Cunningham. 2003. From clients to citizens: Asset-based community development as a strategy for community-driven development. Development in Practice 13: 474–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. McNamara, K.E., and L. Buggy. 2017. Community-based climate change adaptation: A review of academic literature. Local Environment 22: 443–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McNamara, K.E., and S.S. Prasad. 2014. Coping with extreme weather: Communities in Fiji and Vanuatu share their experiences and knowledge. Climatic Change 123: 121–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nalau, J., S. Becken, J. Schliephack, M. Parsons, C. Brown, and B. Mackey. 2018. The role of indigenous and traditional knowledge in ecosystem-based adaptation: A review of the literature and case studies from the Pacific Islands. Weather, Climate and Society 10: 851–865.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nunn, P.D. 2013. The end of the Pacific? Effects of sea level rise on Pacific Island livelihoods. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 34: 143–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Nunn, P.D., and R. Kumar. 2018. Understanding climate-human interactions in Small Island Developing States (SIDS): Implications for future livelihood sustainability. International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management 10: 245–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Nunn, P.D., and R. Kumar. 2019. Cashless adaptation to climate change in developing countries: Unwelcome yet unavoidable? One Earth 1: 31–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Piggott-McKellar, A.E., K.E. McNamara, P.D. Nunn, and J.E.M. Watson. 2019. What are the barriers to successful community-based climate change adaptation? A review of grey literature. Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability 24: 374–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Reid, H., and L. Schipper. 2014. Upscaling community-based adaptation: An introduction to the edited volume. In Community-based adaptation to climate change: Scaling it up, ed. E.L.F. Schipper, J. Ayers, H. Reid, S. Huq, and A. Rahman, 3–21. Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  43. Remling, E., and J. Veitayaki. 2016. Community-based action in Fiji’s Gau Island: A model for the Pacific? International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management 8: 375–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rose, N. 1999. Powers of freedom: Reframing political thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Said, E. 1978. Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  46. Schipper, E.L.F., J. Ayers, H. Reid, S. Huq, and A. Rahman. 2014. Community-based adaptation to climate change: Scaling it up. Oxon: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Smit, B., and J. Wandel. 2006. Adaptation, adaptive capacity and vulnerability. Global Environmental Change 16: 282–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Spires, M., S. Shackleton, and G. Cundill. 2014. Barriers to implementing planned community-based adaptation in developing countries: A systematic literature review. Climate and Development 6: 277–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. The Movement for Community led Development. 2019. https://communityleddev.org/definition/. Accessed 4 Feb 2019.
  50. Titz, A., T. Cannon, and F. Krüger. 2018. Uncovering ‘community’: Challenging an elusive concept in development and disaster related work. Societies 8: 71–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. United Nations. 2016. World Risk Report 2016, Institute for Environment and Human Security.Google Scholar
  52. Vanuatu National Statistics Office. 2016. Vanuatu: 2016 Post-TC Pam Mini-Census Report, Ministry of Finance and Economic Management, Port Vila, Vanuatu. https://vnso.gov.vu/index.php/component/advlisting/?view=download&fileId=4542. Accessed 4 Feb 2019.
  53. Warrick, O., W. Aalbersberg, P. Dumaru, R. McNaught, and K. Teperman. 2017. The ‘Pacific adaptive capacity analysis framework’: Guiding the assessment of adaptive capacity in Pacific Island communities. Regional Environmental Change 17: 1039–1051.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Westoby, R., and K.E. McNamara. 2013. The challenges of doing development research consulting in the Pacific: From pre-departure to fieldwork and back in the office. Development 56: 363–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. World Bank. 2018. Community driven development. https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/communitydrivendevelopment#. Accessed 4 Feb 2019.

Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Griffith Institute for TourismGriffith UniversitySouthportAustralia
  2. 2.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  3. 3.School of Social SciencesUniversity of the Sunshine CoastSippy DownsAustralia

Personalised recommendations