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  • LAND AND WATER FLAGSHIP

    Engaging local communities in climate adaptation: a social network perspective from Bega Valley, New South Wales, Australia

    Summary report May 2015

    Ben Harman, Rebecca Cunningham, Brent Jacobs, Tom Measham and Chris Cvitanovic

  • LAND AND WATER FLAGSHIP

    Citation

    Harman, B.P, Cunningham, R., Jacobs B., Measham, T. and Cvitanovic, C. (2015), Engaging local communities in climate adaptation: a social network perspective from Bega Valley, New South Wales, Australia, CSIRO, Australia.

    Copyright and disclaimer

    © 2015 CSIRO To the extent permitted by law, all rights are reserved and no part of this publication covered by copyright may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means except with the written permission of CSIRO.

    Important disclaimer

    CSIRO advises that the information contained in this publication comprises general statements based on scientific research. The reader is advised and needs to be aware that such information may be incomplete or unable to be used in any specific situation. No reliance or actions must therefore be made on that information without seeking prior expert professional, scientific and technical advice. To the extent permitted by law, CSIRO (including its employees and consultants) excludes all liability to any person for any consequences, including but not limited to all losses, damages, costs, expenses and any other compensation, arising directly or indirectly from using this publication (in part or in whole) and any information or material contained in it.

  • 1

    Contents

    Executive Summary ............................................................................................................................................ 4

    1 Background ........................................................................................................................................... 5

    2 Aims and approach................................................................................................................................ 7

    3 Findings from the quantitative SNA .................................................................................................... 14

    4 Observations from interviews ............................................................................................................. 19

    4.1 Mitigation versus adaptation .................................................................................................... 19

    4.2 Autonomous and planned adaptation ...................................................................................... 20

    4.3 Concerns, information needs and challenges ........................................................................... 21

    4.4 Framing climate adaptation ...................................................................................................... 24

    5 Key insights and policy implications .................................................................................................... 26

    6 Conclusions and future research......................................................................................................... 29

    7 References ........................................................................................................................................... 31

    8 Appendix ............................................................................................................................................. 33

  • Figures

    Figure 1: Bega Valley LGA ................................................................................................................................. 11

    Figure 2: Service Age Groups - Bega Region ..................................................................................................... 13

    Figure 3: Service Age Groups - Regional NSW .................................................................................................. 13

    Figure 4: Bega network: Where do you access your climate information? ..................................................... 14

    Figure 5: Bega network: Who do you share climate information with? .......................................................... 17

    Figure 6: Simplified knowledge flow in Bega .................................................................................................... 27

    Tables

    Table 1: Description of network cohesion measures ......................................................................................... 8

    Table 2: Breakdown of interviewees ................................................................................................................ 10

    Table 3: Overview of the Bega Region.............................................................................................................. 12

    Table 4: Full Cohesion measures Bega network: Where do you access your climate information? ............... 15

    Table 5: Keyplayer findings: Where do you access your climate information? ............................................... 16

    Table 6: Full Cohesion measures Bega network: Who do you share climate information with? .................... 18

    Table 7: Keyplayer findings: Where do you share your climate information? ................................................. 18

    Acronyms

    ABS Australian Bureau of Statistics

    CBO Community-Based Organisation

    CSIRO Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

    DPI Department of Primary Industries

    GHG Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    LLS Local Land Services

    NGO Non-Government Organisation

    NSW New South Wales

    OEH Office of Environment and Heritage

    SNA Social Network Analysis

  • 3

    Acknowledgments This research was funded by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. The research team acknowledge the assistance and support from NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. The authors would also like to thank all of the interviewees who participated in this research. Finally, a big thanks to Iain Walker and Lilly Lim-Camacho from CSIRO who provided valuable comments on earlier versions of this report.

  • Executive Summary

    Adapting to climate change is a challenging task. Decisions are complex and contested due to the

    diverse views, values and interests that are mobilised as a result of climate change. Communities

    are not homogenous and perceptions of risk vary between and within communities across

    Australia. The effectiveness of planning and policy decisions can be significantly enhanced by

    improving our understanding of the community structure and community’s specific needs,

    concerns and position in relation to climate change and adaptation. Community structures may be

    understood more deeply by uncovering the underlying social networks that are activated around

    particular issues, such as climate change. By using social network analysis (SNA) we explored the

    social structures around this particular topic in the Bega region of NSW. We also used semi-

    structured interviews to elicit the experiences and perceptions of the key stakeholders in relation

    to climate change to determine their major concerns and information needs to enhance their

    capacity to adapt. The study revealed that individuals accessed (primarily formal) and shared

    (primarily informal) climate change information from a range of sources. The findings of the SNA

    also suggest that key individuals (boundary spanners) within the network are well connected at

    multiple levels through the network and may act as knowledge champions. Key insights from the

    qualitative data suggest that climate mitigation is more widely communicated or at least

    understood in the region compared to climate change adaptation. The findings also suggest that

    while adaptation is not widely talked about within the community, there is evidence of both

    autonomous and planned adaptation efforts in the Bega community. Major concerns for

    participants in the region included increased bushfire risk, reduced rainfall (in a region that already

    suffers from significant rainfall variability), coastal flooding and inundation as a result of sea level

    rise and storm surge, and ocean acidification.

  • 5

    1 Background

    Climate change is a significant challenge for planners and policy makers (Pidgeon et al., 2014).

    Decisions about when and how to adapt to a changing climate are complex and contested. While

    mitigation efforts remain a significant global challenge there is widespread acknowledgement that

    adaptation to unavoidable climate change impacts at the local and regional scale is a critical

    component of the planning and policy challenge (McEvoy et al., 2010; Agrawal et al., 2012;

    Huggel et al., 2015). Climate change adaptation is a multi-scale planning and policy ‘process that

    needs to consider different sources of knowledge and also societal and cultural values, objectives

    and risk perceptions of those involved’ (Huggel et al., 2015, p. 80). Understanding how the

    different types of responses play out within and across different communities is critical to the

    success of climate change adaptation. Given the diverse sets of interests, actors and values that