Power and politics in climate change adaptation efforts: Struggles over authority and recognition in the context of political instability
Abstract: Throughout the world, climate change adaptation policies supported by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have provided significant sources of funding and technical support to developing countries. Yet often the adaptation responses proposed belie complex political realities, particularly in politically unstable contexts, where power and politics shape adaptation outcomes. In this paper, the concepts of authority and recognition are used to capture power and politics as they play out in struggles over governing changing resources. The case study in Nepal shows how adaptation policy formation and implementation becomes a platform in which actors seek to claim authority and assert more generic rights as political and cultural citizens. Focusing on authority and recognition helps illuminate how resource governance struggles often have very little to do with the resources themselves. Foundational to the argument is how projects which seek to empower actors to manage their resources, produce realignments of power and knowledge that then shape who is invested in what manner in adaptation. The analysis adds to calls for reframing ‘adaptation’ to encompass the socionatural processes that shape vulnerability by contributing theoretical depth to questions of power and politics.
Keywords: Climate change adaptation; Authority; Recognition; Subjectivity; Political transition; Institutions; Nepal