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The roles of governments and other actors in adaptation to climate change and variability: The examples of agriculture and coastal communities

1 Geography, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada and School of Environmental Design, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
2 Geography, Laboratory Laplec, University of Liege, Belgium.
3 Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
4 Program Analyst, United Nation Development Programme.
5 Team Leader, European Union Climate Change Project in Haïti.
6 Geography, University of Montreal.
7 Geography, University of Montreal, Consultant (Sustainable Development, Environment, Impact Studies).

There is little question now about the reality of climate change and the importance of adaptation of human activities in reducing the negative impacts of climate change and variability (CCV) as well as the reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in mitigating this unprecedented phenomenon. This article focuses on adaptation and the adaptive capacity of actors (decision-takers) of all sorts to adopt appropriate strategies and increase their adaptive capacity to cope with CCV by focusing on two types of human activity—agriculture and agricultural territories and coastal communities, both of which have very important roles to play in human society. Given the recent high profile given to the outcomes of COP21 and particularly the potential transfer of significant funding from developed to developing countries to support their battle against CCV, the emphasis has shifted again to the role of governments in this battle. We argue that governments have important roles to play both in developed and developing countries, but supporting funding of initiatives and for developing pertinent action plans is probably the least of our worries! Funding can be important but alone does not solve the challenges, it is what is accomplished with funding that is all important, and this requires the development of effective and pertinent adaptive capacities on the part of the different actors involved in what becomes a co-construction process. We argue that the roles of governments and other actors (collective as well as individual citizens and the activities that they are involved in) need to be better understood in order for this to happen. This is illustrated by research of different types on agriculture and coastal communities.
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