Leveraging Governance Performance to Enhance Climate Resilience

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Enhancing the resilience of complex social-ecological systems (SES) to climate change requires transformative changes. Yet, there are knowledge gaps on how best to achieve transformation. In this study, we present an approach for assessing governance performance in SES and identifying leverage points to ultimately enhance climate resilience. The approach combines three different methods including a capital approach framework, fuzzy cognitive mapping, and a leverage points analysis. Using a coastal case-study in Algoa Bay, South Africa, the performance of governance processes contributing to different forms of capital is assessed. Subsequently, leverage points - where a small shift may lead to transformative changes in the system as a whole - are identified based on measures of centrality and performance. Results suggest that a range of leverage points can improve governance performance and therefore climate resilience in the case-study. Leverage points include improving (a) support from the provincial government; (b) priority given to climate change in the integrated development plan; (c) frequency of collaborations; (d) participation in the implementation of climate action plans; (e) allocation of funding to climate change actions; (f) the overall level of preparedness in terms of staff with relevant expertise; (g) public awareness and understanding of climate change. The approach can also be used to analyze and model the relations and interactions between capitals. The study advances methodological and theoretical knowledge on the identification of leverage points for enabling transformations toward climate resilience and broader sustainability goals in SES.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022EF003012
JournalEarth's Future
Issue number10
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 01.10.2022

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© 2022 The Authors. Earth's Future published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Geophysical Union.