Report on climate change policy

Climate change policy, conflict and transformative governance
Melissa Nursey-Bray – Indo-Pacific Governance Research Centre (IPGRC)
11 February 2013

Climate change is the behemoth of our age. It defies description, is too large
to comprehend, and what we do understand about it is often terrifying. This is
for many, a good reason to stop thinking about it or, like Scarlett O’Hara,
decide to “think about it tomorrow”. Thinking about the role of conflict in
climate change policy is an even more challenging exercise, but one that this
paper tries to address. Briefly I propose that climate change governance could
productively utilise conflict as a transformative agent for decision making,
rather than try and avoid it, or ‘solve it’ by embedding conflict resolution
mechanisms within those governance frameworks.

There are many points at which governance and climate change intersect, there
are multiple entry and exit points, and policies need embedding from local to
international levels to work. At the heart of the problem however is conflict:
between states and territories, between cultures, between the ideas of rights
and responsibility and between the environment and economics. But as with
Scarlett O’Hara, our society is fundamentally incapable of dealing with
conflict. We seek answers based on win-win solutions, and ways of engaging with
each other that are diplomatic, and politically correct.

Conflict as such, is feared as the blunt stone that will bludgeon and ruin
negotiations and damage already fragile egos, societies and potential
environmental outcomes. When societies cannot or will not change, or when the
changes required necessitate unacceptable cultural compromise, disjuncture
between them can develop into forums of conflict. Conflicts arising are partly
explained by the fact that worldviews, perceptions of the problem, and ideas
about solutions differ.

I argue for the transformative potential of conflict to facilitate adaptive
governance and policy around climate change and climate change adaptation.

Key Points:

Climate change governance could productively utilise conflict as a
transformative agent for decision making, rather than try and avoid it, or
‘solve it’ by embedding conflict resolution mechanisms within governance
frameworks.
Climate governance frameworks should enable the conflict to become the
conflict resolution process itself. This means identifying likely conflicts up
front and then using them as the basis on which decisions about the most
appropriate policies and planning are made, ensuring that such decisions are
cognisant of and provide forums for effective ways around conflict in
implementation.
This process might take longer to negotiate, but will mean less likelihood
of climate related policies stalling in implementation due to intractable
conflict.
One way of operationalising this model is to employ a three-dimensional
local adaptive conflict governance framework comprising: (i) adaptive management
(which includes anticipatory adaptation/foresight), (ii) communications, and
(iii) reflexive practice.

Publication Type : Discussion paper
Publisher Type : Academic research centre
Coverage : Worldwide
Copyright : Indo-Pacific Governance Research Centre (IPGRC)
Permanent URL : http://apo.org.au/node/32795

Read the report