External Publications
Date: 7/1/2019

A network approach for moving from planning to implementation in climate change adaptation: Evidence from southern Mexico

Elisa Calliari (University College London, Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change, Ca' Foscari University of Venice); Melania Michetti (Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change); Luca Farnia (Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei); Emiliano Ramieri (Thetis S.P.A.)
Type: Journal
Published in: Environmental Science & Policy, Volume 93, March 2019, Pages 146-157
Keywords: Adaptation barriers; Social network analysis; Collaborative governance; Institutions


Collaboration barriers have been reported among the most frequent institutional constraints to adaptation. Yet, the growing literature on the topic has been largely descriptive and little attention has been placed on how to transform barriers into enablers for action. By taking a fragile socio-ecological lagoon system in Southern Mexico as a case study, the paper applies a social network analytical approach to: i) reveal the actual web of connections tying stakeholders through local governance arrangements; ii) identify shortcomings in multi-actor collaboration networks; and iii) propose ways to tackle them so that the full potential of adaptation can be exploited. The paper employs a mixed-method approach combining both a quantitative and qualitative Social Network Analysis (SNA). The quantitative SNA is used to assess the quality and strength of relationships among formal public organisations working on climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction in the site. The qualitative SNA is employed to both assess linking ties between formal organizations and local coastal communities potentially targeted with adaptation interventions, and bonding ties connecting community members. The approach proves to be useful to map the relational architecture of the system of interest and to reveal network characteristics that are important for collective action including: network fragmentation in subgroups; density of relations; centralization around a few actors. The actual topology of the network, as revealed, can then be compared with what is required for achieving societally desired adaptation outcomes and for identifying agents that can promote change. The paper acknowledges that a social analytical approach might be limited in unveiling the interests and motives behind actors’ participation in the network, and that the latter ultimately determine actors’ contribution in defining and enacting a joint solution for a common problem. However, the mixed-methods approach presented in this paper allows for gaining first insights on the way a mismatch between formal and informal institutions might drive socio-ecological systems towards inadequate adaptation outcomes.

A network approach for moving from planning to implementation in climate change adaptation: Evidence from southern Mexico

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