This project aimed to explore the role of social research in climate change adaptation planning, and to map the determinants of adaptive capacity in Victorian communities facing significant nearterm impacts of climate change.

In Port Fairy the community is willing to work to adapt – but needs to be empowered by and strengthened (rather than divided) by the process. A sense of vulnerability was more often linked to a perceived inability to act (feeling excluded from adaptive processes) than to the climate change driver or impact.

In the City of Melbourne, respondents were confident that they were witnessing the effects of global climate change in Australia and overseas, and there was general agreement that human activity will have negative impacts the planet and the climate. Resilience was understood to involve the ability to act individually and collectively in order to reduce vulnerability to extreme events and longer-term climatic changes. This requires consideration of the psychological, social and institutional barriers that inhibit development of community resilience.

The project indicated that social research can have a useful role in adaptation planning. It identified the value that the community places on local over ‘expert’ knowledge and the need for locally developed, ‘fit for purpose’ responses. The use and interpretation of concepts such as vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity needs to be considered in a local context. The narrative approach has the potential to inform the design of tailored programs that can conserve and build local adaptive capacity and collaborative adaptation planning. Social research can provide a bridge between planning and enacting effective interventions for community based adaptation to climate change and can facilitate involvement of different actors from community, science and policy in collective experimentation and learning


This document has been obtained from the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research (VCCCAR) online knowledge hub hosted by the University of Melbourne and has been listed in the Virtual Hub for Climate Change Innovation with the permission of the Climate Change Programs division of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Professor Rod Keenan, School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, University of Melbourne. The VCCCAR program funded by the Victorian Government via the then Department of Environment and Primary Industries (later changed to DELWP), ceased activity in June 2014.


Publication Details
Publication Year: