Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Behavior Change and the Salish Sea: Science and Application

Description

Coastal communities experience a wide range of environmental, climatic, and socio-political changes to which they must adapt. Due the complexity and speed of change in coastal social-ecological systems, there is significant academic and practical interest in assessing and fostering the adaptive capacity of coastal communities. Adaptive capacity refers to the latent ability of a system to respond proactively and positively to stressors or opportunities. A variety of qualitative, quantitative, and participatory approaches have been used to understand the adaptive capacity of coastal communities and linked social-ecological systems. Each approach has different benefits and drawbacks and leads to distinct insights depending on scale, context, and application. Drawing on the results of an OceanCanada Partnership working group on adaptive capacity, this paper describes and compares a suite of techniques that are often used to study adaptive capacity to social, environmental and climatic change. Through case studies from the Salish Sea and elsewhere, we present a set of considerations and best practices for assessing adaptive capacity. Key considerations for evaluating adaptive capacity include: clearly defining the context and problem; being cognizant of the goals of those participating in the analysis; paying attention to scale (temporal and spatial); assessing responses to social and ecological change in an integrative fashion, and considering equity and well being. We also identify best practices in both choosing an assessment tool and linking results to the policy and practice of building adaptive capacity. To conclude, we synthesize some of the general insights and broadly applicable interventions for augmenting the adaptive capacity of coastal communities to social-ecological change.

Comments

Key words: Adaptive capacity; climate change; social-ecological systems; transformation; resilience; coastal communities; vulnerability; climate impact; environmental change; risk assessment

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Lessons for assessing and building adaptive capacity of coastal social-ecological systems

2016SSEC

Coastal communities experience a wide range of environmental, climatic, and socio-political changes to which they must adapt. Due the complexity and speed of change in coastal social-ecological systems, there is significant academic and practical interest in assessing and fostering the adaptive capacity of coastal communities. Adaptive capacity refers to the latent ability of a system to respond proactively and positively to stressors or opportunities. A variety of qualitative, quantitative, and participatory approaches have been used to understand the adaptive capacity of coastal communities and linked social-ecological systems. Each approach has different benefits and drawbacks and leads to distinct insights depending on scale, context, and application. Drawing on the results of an OceanCanada Partnership working group on adaptive capacity, this paper describes and compares a suite of techniques that are often used to study adaptive capacity to social, environmental and climatic change. Through case studies from the Salish Sea and elsewhere, we present a set of considerations and best practices for assessing adaptive capacity. Key considerations for evaluating adaptive capacity include: clearly defining the context and problem; being cognizant of the goals of those participating in the analysis; paying attention to scale (temporal and spatial); assessing responses to social and ecological change in an integrative fashion, and considering equity and well being. We also identify best practices in both choosing an assessment tool and linking results to the policy and practice of building adaptive capacity. To conclude, we synthesize some of the general insights and broadly applicable interventions for augmenting the adaptive capacity of coastal communities to social-ecological change.