Kochi, India case study of climate adaptation to floods: Ranking local government investment options

Supriya Mathew, Stefan Truck, Ann Henderson-Sellers

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Climate adaptation is uniquely linked to location, making it predominantly a local government and community responsibility. Despite the obligation to act, local governments are hindered by the absence of applicable guides to adaptation decision-making, especially adaptation to extreme events. In this paper, we describe a framework for prioritising adaptation options that could be locally implemented and illustrate it with a study of flooding in Kochi: a city in southern India. Unlike many demand driven, economics based studies, our new framework also incorporates non-economic dimensions of the extremes and potential adaptation options. Local knowledge is used to tackle data gaps and uncertainty related to extreme events: local experts select adaptation options that offer additional benefits besides those related to climate change. These co-benefits aid decision making under uncertainty by giving weight to community priorities. The Indian case study reveals that, risk evaluation and reduction need to be locally contextualised based on resources available, immediate community requirements, planning periods and local expert knowledge. Although there will be residual damage even after implementing selected options, we argue that, climate response will be most likely to be accepted when it also supports pressing needs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-319
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


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