A comparative analysis of adaptive capacity to flooding: perspectives from the UK and India
PublisherUniversity of Ulster
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Differential impacts experienced in relation to environmental hazards in developed and developing countries provide further challenges to actions taken in response to climate change. Whilst developed nations are viewed as more responsible for climate change, it is likely that the impacts will be felt more severely in developing nations. Furthermore, within nations, it is likely that already vulnerable groups (such as the poor) will be worst affected and least able to adapt to or cope with changes. A primary driver for this comparative study is to investigate the adaptive capacity of people at the local level in response to flooding in a developed and developing country context. Investigation into what facilitates the capacity to adapt to climate change i.e. the definition of differences, or similarities in adaptive capacity between people living in developed and developing countries are therefore key tenets of this project. Thus, capacity to adapt is built on more than just economic circumstances, which has implications for adaptation policy and the 'poorest are the most vulnerable' discourse. This project adopts an inductive, qualitative, community level approach to research, in order to identify and categorise adaptive actions taken in response to flooding in Belfast and Chennai case study areas, and to assess the effect of social capital! actor agency on the adaptive capacity of people at the local level. This research affirms that response to flooding that makes a positive difference requires human agency. Social capital is a key aspect of human agency and was found to be imperative in affecting adaptation and adaptive capacity in the case study areas. Social capital is therefore an integral part of adaptation and adaptive capacity. Human agency, however has been found to be influenced by perceptions of risk. Perceptions of risk have been shown to vary across cultural contexts, with a sense of injustice affecting what actions people pursue to adapt to change, and to reduce risk. Willingness to act and to bring about change was therefore not necessarily tied to objective limits (such as lack of economic capital), but also to more subjective social limits that shapes adaptation and adaptive capacity.