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Understanding the role of government in climate change adaptation: A comparative analysis of national adaptation strategies of Sweden and the Republic of Korea
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
2012 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 40 credits / 60 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This thesis contributes to the discussion on the role of national governments in climate change adaptation by providing empirical analysis of national adaptation strategies (NASs) in two economically advanced countries, Sweden and the Republic of Korea. A new framework for analyzing NASs focusing on public spending patterns was developed to provide a clear picture of where the priorities are beyond policy rhetoric. The analysis showed that most public spending in the case countries was currently directed toward building adaptive capacity rather than implementing adaptation actions. Both countries’ NASs also showed a similar pattern in terms of adaptation sectors that receive priority funding. Some sectors with private beneficiaries, like agriculture, received more public support when those with a greater number of beneficiaries, like biodiversity protection, received less in our case countries.

This thesis has also analyzed rationalities for government intervention. Based on mainstream adaptation literature, an assumption was made that rationalities for government intervention will follow a liberal approach where there is a focus on identifying market failures and improving efficiency. However, it was found that NASs were not at all explicit about why government intervention is justified.

Based on these findings, this study explored government actors’ perception on the appropriate rationality for adaptation intervention by interviewing key government officials in Sweden and the Republic of Korea. Three theories of government intervention in adaptation – the liberal approach, the budget maximizing model, and the social contract theory – were tested to examine their relevance. Although many government actors recognize the liberal approach as the norm for intervening in adaptation, it was found that the high level of uncertainty in climate impacts and the multi-faceted nature of vulnerability hinder this approach from becoming a positive theory in adaptation. Despite denials, the budget maximizing model was found to be highly relevant. Furthermore, the social contract theory was found to be highly relevant in explaining government intervention to short-term catastrophe, but not as effective in explaining adaptation to long-term changes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 74 p.
Keyword [en]
adaptation, role of government, national adaptation strategy
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-85835OAI: diva2:585114
Life Earth Science
Available from: 2014-09-22 Created: 2013-01-09 Last updated: 2014-09-22Bibliographically approved

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