Creating adaptive social-ecological fit: the role of regional actors in the governance of Sea-level Rise Adaptation in San Francisco Bay

Francesca Pia Vantaggiato, Mark Lubell, Michelle Hummel, Aaron CH Chow, Alain Tcheukam Siwe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Sea level rise is one of the most pressing climate adaptation issues around the world. Often, coastal communities are interdependent in their exposure to sea level rise – if one builds a seawall, it will push water to another – and would benefit from a coordinated adaptive response. The literature on social-ecological systems (SES) calls for actors placed at higher levels of governance (e.g. regional government in a metropolitan area) to improve coordination between local managers by serving as brokers. However, we lack empirical insight on how higher-level actors might improve coordination in practice, and theoretical development on the implications of their intermediation. To address these gaps, we study the case of adaptation to sea level rise in the San Francisco Bay Area. We build a social-ecological network of social actors and shoreline segments using original survey data and simulated scenarios of tidal and traffic interdependencies between shoreline segments. We perform a frequency analysis of network motifs that operationalize social-ecological ‘fit’ in the context of the Bay Area. We find that regional actors and non-governmental organizations increase social-ecological fit by providing intermediation between actors who work on different shoreline segments, whether interdependent or not. This shows that these actors provide adaptive social-ecological fit, future-proofing the Bay Area to current and future climate adaptation challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102654
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Volume80
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

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