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Detecting and avoiding impasse mechanisms for nature-based approaches to climate change adaptation in Ireland


This research investigates what the current perspective of practitioner were on nature-based approaches in the Irish context. Since nature-based approaches are often unfamiliar to people and are associated with a very different risk profile than traditional engineering solutions, it is important to find out if impasse mechanisms could be present on Irish nature-based approaches.

In the annual review of the Climate Change Advisory Council it was highlighted that currently climate change adaptation is driven by a relatively small community of committed policy makers. This shows clearly that a better understanding of societal dynamics that lead to uptake and propagation of innovative and resilient approaches is needed to unlock the ‘triple dividend’ of adaptation: avoided losses, reduced risks and increased productivity, as well as social and environmental benefits.

Different perceptions of risk amongst stakeholders can lead to impasse. Where an open and transparent engagement process discussing the risks and how to manage them is required, the opposite takes place. This study shows that the introduction and implementation of nature-based adaptation measures in Ireland brings some very novel challenges.

Some issues mentioned in this study were fears around costs and risks – of transitioning and ongoing maintenance-, and unemployment, particularly for the farming community. Disconnection from nature seems to underpin a mistrust in the capacity of nature and natural features to provide resilience -both social and ecological- to the coming disruption of climate change and associated impacts. This mistrust in turn seems to be triggering the risk of innovation mechanisms.

This research was designed to cover a broad, transdisciplinary cross-section of Irish practitioners, working on various scales and with differing perspectives and touchpoints with nature. To develop a system approach to collaboration, background, history and culture need to be recognised and acknowledged as vital building blocks of people’s perspectives.

Reference information

University College Dublin
School of Biology and Environmental Science, Earth Institute, University College Dublin

Published in Climate-ADAPT Sep 21 2023   -   Last Modified in Climate-ADAPT Sep 21 2023

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