Uncovering the discursive politics of mainstreaming adaptation: A Caribbean case study

Authors: Erin Friedman*, CUNY - Graduate Center
Topics: Development, Hazards and Vulnerability, Global Change
Keywords: climate adaptation, politics, discourse, vulnerability, policy
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 6
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Caribbean small island developing states (SIDS) are considered to face the greatest economic challenges from climate risk due to their limited ability to recover from disaster, which has prompted an influx of $1477 million in climate financing for the region , with 32 % of financing devoted to climate adaptation activities. An integrated or mainstreamed approach to climate adaptation has been promoted through these financial products to align the conditions of climate financing with current development planning to build the capacity of countries to deal with economic loss and damages from climate related risk. One of the main concerns about the development sector driving this mainstreaming adaptation approach, is that it promotes values and ideas (discourses) of past development aid programs, where economic growth and techno-managerial rationalities dominate problem framings of climate change issues—marginalizing other issues of concern such as conflicts over environmental resources and socio-economic inequality. The field of critical adaptation has devoted studies to understanding how the power of development discourses affects the kinds of policy choices available to actors on the receiving end of the adaptation financing process. However, many studies lack an articulation of how these power relations operate to determine who and what is considered as part of the adaptation process (Eriksen et al. 2015). In this presentation, I will discuss my contribution to this theoretical gap. I will present a grounded analysis of how development discourses shape whose interests count in mainstreaming adaptation policy for the Eastern Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda.

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