Participatory Politics: Social Innovation for Climate Adaptation at the Local Scale

A/Prof. Wendy Steele1, Prof  Jason Byrne2, Prof Jean Hillier1, Dr Diana MacCallum3, A/Prof Donna Houston4

1Centre for Urban Research, RMIT, Melbourne, Australia,

2University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia,

3Curtin University, Perth, Australia,

4Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia


At the heart of socially innovative responses to climate change and adaptation at the local scale are the knowledge and practices that underpin participatory action. This involves developing shared understandings and making new connections both in terms of ideas and skills, but also between diverse people, groups and things (i.e. communities, neighbourhoods, sectors, nature, technology, art). This ARC funded research is concerned with responses to climate change and variability at the local scale.  It critically investigates social innovations around climate adaptation by governments, groups and NGOs and the diverse ways of building and bridging the knowledge base at the local scale. This paper reports on findings from participant interviews and focus groups that frame social innovation for adaptation at the local scale as a participatory politics. Creatively participating in local adaptation initiatives enables us to re-imagine our experience of and responses to climate change, laying the foundation for new possibilities of socially innovative and transformative change.


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