Julian Sartorius

PhD Student

Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, Energy Environment and Society

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Adaptation to Climate Change - Engaging with Participatory Approaches to Inform Island Community Decision-making 

Supervisors: Dr Alistair Geddes and Dr Alexander Gagnon 

Project Dates: 06 December 2018 – 05 June 2023

In recent years, communities at the coastal margins have become more involved in adaptation planning, as the impacts of climate change and sea level rise – often coupled with anthropogenic exposures and pressures – are increasingly felt across coastal and island systems. Within this context, small island communities have particular vulnerabilities to the impacts of climate change, due to their biophysical, geographical and socio-economic settings. Yet it is also known that such communities may be distinctive in other ways, including in terms of their social cohesion and dense social networks characterised by collective action and trust relationships (often collectively referred to as social capital), and ultimately, a high level of socio-cultural resilience. These characteristics can contribute to facilitating and enhancing climate adaptation. Alternatively, they may raise the risk of maladaptation, if instead they are ignored. 

Against this backdrop, Julian’s PhD research project seeks to develop a framework for and execute a novel adaptation assessment integrating both ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ methodologies on climate-related risks, vulnerabilities and adaptation, where the ‘bottom-up’ perspective is developed through participatory research and knowledge co-production with and within small island communities in Scotland. The study is a response to some of the shortcomings of top-down-only assessments and aims to contribute to the growing understanding of participatory approaches and knowledge co-production in climate adaptation research. The project is supported by a Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society (SAGES) grant.