Few, Roger, Brown, Katrina and Tompkins, Emma L.
Public participation and climate change adaptation: avoiding the illusion of inclusion
Climate Policy, 7, (1), .
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Public participation is commonly advocated in policy responses to climate change. Here we discuss prospects for inclusive approaches to adaptation, drawing particularly on studies of long-term coastal management in the UK and elsewhere. We affirm that public participation is an important normative goal in formulating response to climate change risks, but argue that its practice must learn from existing critiques of participatory processes in other contexts. Involving a wide range of stakeholders in decision-making presents fundamental challenges for climate policy, many of which are embedded in relations of power. In the case of anticipatory responses to climate change, these challenges are magnified because of the long-term and uncertain nature of the problem. Without due consideration of these issues, a tension between principles of public participation and anticipatory adaptation is likely to emerge and may result in an overly managed form of inclusion that is unlikely to satisfy either participatory or instrumental goals. Alternative, more narrowly instrumental, approaches to participation are more likely to succeed in this context, as long as the scope and limitations of public involvement are made explicit from the outset
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