Eric Chu on Translating Climate Adaptation Theory to Action on the Local Level

New Security Beat
February 13, 2015 By Sarah Meyerhoff

“Adaptation is very theoretical. When you talk about ‘resilience,’ you draw these Venn diagrams and you draw these really complex issues, but at least at the IPCC level, we didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about what people were actually doing,” says Eric Chu in this week’s podcast.

Chu, a contributor to Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, says the ways high-level concepts about adaptation translate to action are very important and not well understood.

“How do city governments in developing countries understand the impacts of climate change?” he asks, “how do they translate those mandates into what they’re [currently] doing?” In his dissertation, which he adapted for the Fifth Annual Graduate Student Urban Poverty Paper Competition, Chu explores these questions in three Indian cities. Each faces unique climate stressors – Surat is dealing with extreme flooding, Indore has been strained by chronic water scarcity, and Bhubaneswar has experienced more frequent cyclones. But they all share long-term relationships with external NGOs and donor agencies concerned with climate adaptation.

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