This study focuses on challenges to adaptation to sea level rise (SLR) on a regional and multi-sectoral scale. We develop, test, and deploy a survey instrument that asks regional stakeholders to assess adaptation readiness and identify barriers to regional adaptation. Informed by the work of Ford and King (Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Chang 20:505–526, 2015) and Moser and Ekstrom (Proc Natl Acad Sci 107:22,026–22,031, 2010), this study operationalizes a conceptual framework for diagnosing barriers to adaptation readiness and applies it to the specific case of SLR adaptation in the Hampton Roads region of southeastern Virginia. In doing so, this work offers insights from three understudied aspects: (1) barriers to adaptation readiness, (2) a regional focus, and (3) a multi-sectoral perspective. Our survey results indicate that the key barriers to adapting to SLR occur during the planning phase of the adaptation process and the transition into the managing phase of the process. Almost 60 % of survey respondents identified implementation as one of the three most challenging phases of regional adaptation. Fifty-one percent and 36 % identified development of options and selection of options, respectively, as most challenging. Some barriers to implementation identified in the survey include conflicting mandates, lack of consensus, and lack of financial resources. We examine and discuss these barriers and how they can be overcome, allowing us to identify and characterize overarching factors essential for creating an enabling environment for adaptation. In proposing an integrated conceptual framework linking capacity, readiness, and barriers, our study thus provides an analytical and practical approach for determining adaptation readiness at the regional level, offering implications for regional governance and the practice of adaptation that spans multiple sectors.
Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 15, 2016
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