From the ground up – How communities can collaborate to drive local adaptation and influence the national agenda

The Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) has identified a series of strategies to help community-level organizations to increase climate resilience - which are reviewed in this policy brief. The analysis focusses on the Caribbean, but has widely applicable lessons for community-based adaptation elsewhere.

CDKN-funded research in the Caribbean demonstrates that participatory approaches at the community level can contribute to a more robust understanding of local vulnerability, and lead to better climate adaptation action. This research found several methods and approaches to empower communities to lead local adaptation processes by developing:

1. networks of local actors that can work collaboratively to build climate resilience

2. community-based vulnerability assessments;

3. assessing adaptive capacity at the local-level; and

4. connecting local action with regional and national decision-making.

This policy brief examines each approach in turn, drawing on research and case studies from countries across the Caribbean.

This research considers which elements of networked governance make for effective decision-making and cooperation. The analysis provides a framework for adaptive governance which is built around four pillars of: Networks; Analytical deliberation (a structured discussion between stakeholders); Institutional variety; and Nested and multi-level structures (networks that sit within and interact with other broader networks).

Case studies are included, such as Jamaica’s Bluefields Bay Special Fishery Conservation Area and Saint Lucia’s Soufrière Marine Management Area, which both illustrate how trust and cooperation can be built between diverse stakeholder groups.


CDKN mentions that while community-level approaches have the potential to deliver contextually appropriate climate change adaptation solutions - research also shows that the most effective networks are nested within other networks at the regional and national levels. They explain that developing these links between community networks and organizations at other scales are vitally important, both to stimulate action at the local level and to influence policy at the national level.



Publication Date: March 2017

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