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Defining the architecture and attributes of successful climate change adaptation surrounding long-lived infrastructure in the coastal zone

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thesis
posted on 21.06.2017, 08:22 by Jennifer C. Armstrong
Climate variability and change threaten human and physical systems in coastal zones. With more than 10% of the global population now living and working in low elevation coastal zones, successful adaptation to climate change is becoming a pressing issue, particularly for areas featuring critical, long-lived infrastructure. The aim of this research is to define the architecture and attributes contributing to successful adaptation to climate change. Here, success is measured in terms of the process rather than outcomes of adaptation initiatives. The research features two empirical phases: adaptation framework analysis and an evaluation of factors affecting the adaptive capacity of stakeholder organisations. Framework analysis involved the development of a criterion tool based on recurrent features of different adaptation frameworks as described in research literature. Six hallmarks emerged as discriminators of Scenario-Led (SL), Vulnerability-Led (VL) and Decision-Centric (DC) frameworks. The criterion tool was then tested using four UK coastal case study areas, drawing on evidence from public domain adaptation documents. The Grounded Theory Methodology (GTM) was used investigate factors enabling or inhibiting stakeholder adaptation efforts by designing and iteratively adjust semi-structured interviews with stakeholder organisations in the Sizewell nuclear neighbourhood, Suffolk, UK. The findings from the two phases were brought together to identify opportunities to improve the adaptation processes. Analysis of the adaptation architecture revealed that stakeholders rarely use one theoretical adaptation approach. A hybrid adaptation framework is adopted, with the DC/SL or DC/VL being utilised most frequently. Findings reveal a mismatch between theoretical frameworks and those implemented in practise. Semi-structured interviews exposed six key themes defining adaptation process. Stakeholder organisations reported 12 factors that affect their standpoints on each key theme. Standpoints were broadly consistent between similar stakeholder organisations. Stakeholder groups, key themes and influencing factors provide an evidence base for evaluating the complex social dynamics affecting successes of the adaptation process, offering a route to pragmatic adaptation guidance. By considering the architecture and attributes of adaptation coastal stakeholders in neighbourhoods with long-lived infrastructure could strengthen the adaptation process, thereby realising their shared vision(s) of integrated coastal management. There is scope for improving and advancing the research. It is acknowledged that the inventories of adaptation initiatives were uneven in size and scope, potentially limiting the evaluation of the criterion tool. This may be addressed by assessing other coastal neighbourhoods with long-lived infrastructure. When interviewing representatives from stakeholder organisations, it was difficult to differentiate between personal or professional views. Future research could investigate how the role of the individual influences adaptation efforts. Insights could further refine the architecture and attributes of adaptation.

Funding

EPSRC.

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Geography and Environment

Publisher

© Jennifer C. Armstrong

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date

2017

Notes

A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

Language

en