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WORKING PAPER: Reflecting on climate change and governance in a coastal-marine context: The case of St. Lucia

Coastal-marine systems in small island developing states of the Caribbean are highly vulnerable to both current and future environmental change, including climate change (Pelling and Uitto 2001; CARSEA 2007; IPCC 2007). Increased storm intensity, sea level rise, coastal erosion, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, and declining marine fisheries are particular sources of vulnerability (McWilliams et al. 2005; Emanuel 2006; Oxenford et al. 2008; Pulwarty et al. 2010; Nicholls and Cazenave 2010; Bellard et al. 2013). Furthermore, the multiple drivers of change (e.g. climate change, urbanization, tourism development, and marine resource exploitation) are producing cumulative effects and conflicts that are complex, emergent, and cross-scale (CARSEA 2007).

This working paper seeks to examine the relationship between institutional adaptive capacity and governance fit for climate change using a case study of the Soufriere Marine Management Area (SMMA) in St. Lucia. This is a relationship that has not been sufficiently investigated. However, projected climate changes signal the importance of careful consideration of this issue. Accordingly, we offer an empirical assessment of the SMMA with specific reference to opportunities for analytical deliberation, institutional variety, nesting of institutions, and the role of networks. Our analysis is aimed at understanding how governance systems can achieve fit for climate and other drivers of change, not as a singular outcome but as a dynamic process of building institutional adaptive capacity.

Picture: Marcel Holyoak

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