Climate Risk Governance in Bhubaneswar, India: An evolutionary perspective

  • Author / Creator
    Parida, Debadutta
  • This dissertation seeks to examine the evolving politics of planning and governance of climate risks in Bhubaneswar city in India, by analyzing how climate risk governance has evolved and its implications on future adaptation possibilities. Southern cities such as Bhubaneswar have been at the forefront of local-scaled exploration and implementation of climate planning, policymaking, and action in the last two decades, often drawing upon normative ideas inspired by and embedded in resilience and social-ecological systems theory. Yet, the complexity and evolving dynamics of changing governance contexts remain largely unexplored due to changing risks, vulnerabilities, adaptation practices, knowledge as well as fast-paced urbanization and development priorities. In the absence of observation of the above in governance, planning practice itself can result in new and unobserved risks emerging from decisions to combat climate risk, making climate adaptation invariably more complicated and challenging to attain.
    In response to the above problem, there has been increasing scholarly attention and recommendation for climate practice in cities to be more context-sensitive. Despite the advancing knowledge, most climate practice emerging in southern cities remains oblivious to the existing realities of southern cities, particularly in terms of blindness to issues of dynamic formal/informal institutional relations, conflicts, and discursive construction and deployment of risks and vulnerabilities. To address this gap, this study aims to advance understanding of the co-evolutions between elements of climate risk governance (actors, institutions, and discourses) in Bhubaneswar city. The overarching research question that guides this dissertation is: How has climate risk governance in Bhubaneswar evolved in response to environmental and development challenges in the last two decades? The time frame from 2008 to 2021 is considered in this study, beginning with the first state climate action plan in 2008 till the time field work was carried out for the study. To answer the question, I focus on the mutual interactions and co-evolutions between different elements of governance, i.e. actors, institutions, and discourses, within changing system/environment relations. I adopted a constructivist and interpretive lens for this study and used a qualitative case study approach for this study.
    This dissertation is structured as a series of four articles that present distinct inquiries that are intended for journal publication (also known as paper-based format). The articles presented are broadly guided by the above overarching question, while I ask and answer precise questions and objectives within each article. The first article is a systematic literature review based inquiry on the elusive but rapidly emerging area of southern urbanism, including its many theoretical propositions, conceptual landscape, and categorical differences between the cities in the North and South. This helped me arrive at contextual characteristics of southern cities that I employed as starting points in the next articles. In the second article, through Jäger & Maier’s Critical Dispositive Analysis of documents, I focus on how climate risk and vulnerability in the climate plans and policies in Bhubaneswar are discursively created, deployed, and co-evolve over time, and how they limit and provide opportunities for policy and governance responses. This is followed by the third article, wherein I explore a novel understanding of climate risks in local contexts through the constantly changing formal/informal institutional interactions. And finally, in the fourth article, I advance knowledge on the usefulness of studying climate shocks and social conflicts together through an evolutionary and social-ecological systems lens, to understand climate risk governance issues, including their effects on limitations and opportunities in adaptation to climate change.
    Collectively, the findings demonstrate that local adaptation to climate change is not limited to formal plans/policies, while the risks identified formally are not comprehensive at any point in time. I highlight the risks that emerge out of climate plans lacking southern sensibilities, particularly from the non-observance of formal/informal interactions, gaps between rhetoric in formal plans/policies and action, and underestimating the combined effects of climate shocks and existing social conflicts in planning for climate change. The study findings reveal the underlying politics and power relations that influence the construction and reconstruction of climate risk and vulnerability. Conversely, the changing relations between elements of governance themselves result in changing power relations through the creation of new governance contexts (actor/institutional configurations and discourses), and new risks and opportunities for different actors.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2023
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.