The governance of local climate commons

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As climate change impacts accelerate, there is an urgent need to understand and enhance the governance of climate change adaptation, or existing vulnerabilities will be exacerbated, and opportunities to accrue benefits from adaptive responses may be lost. While a global phenomenon, climate change is experienced locally, varying significantly from place to place, and requiring local and context-specific responses. Using lenses of social ecological systems, common pool resources and subsidiarity, this thesis identifies attributes of governance that can support capacity to anticipate, adapt and address local climate change impacts on ecological and social systems. Set in Waverley Local Government Area in Metropolitan Sydney, I examine how urban trees and vegetation, accessible to both public and private interests, represent a local climate commons that provides climate adaptation benefits such as heat regulation to residents, visitors and ecological communities. Drawing on empirical evidence of community attitudes, document analysis and a review of adaptation literature, this thesis posits that by deepening the application of subsidiarity to existing institutional and governance arrangements, shared management of local climate commons can be achieved. Furthermore, deepening subsidiarity will promote and foster the diverse approaches necessary to provide the best chance for inclusive, accountable and effective climate change adaptation.
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