CEFO seminar

  • Date: –12:00
  • Location: Geocentrum Baltic University Programme Library at the Center for Sustainable Development (Geocentrum, Villavägen 16)
  • Lecturer: Harry Fisher
  • Organiser: CEFO
  • Contact person: Dominic Teodorescu
  • Seminarium

Harry Fischer is an Associate Senior Lecturer at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala and a New Generation Network Fellow at the University of Melbourne. His work looks at local democracy, rural development, and natural resource management in India.

Abstract: Amidst growing policy interest in helping vulnerable communities to confront global climate change, there is growing concern about whether existing institutions and governance structures will be able to effectively address the challenges ahead. This presentation will explore the role of subnational democratic systems in coordinating adaptive responses to climate threats. I will argue that democratic institutions are necessary to negotiate more effective, equitable, and locally-tailored interventions that address core local needs, while also satisfying the normative objectives of giving vulnerable a groups a voice in the decision-making processes that affect their lives. What is needed, I argue, is not less politics, but more substantive democracy. The presentation develops a theoretical foundation through which the consolidation of more democratic subnational governance structures can be better understood. Drawing on in-depth empirical analysis from Himachal Pradesh, one of India’s northern Himalayan states, I will then discuss three examples that illustrate some of the ways that local democratic institutions influence the success of climate adaptation efforts: by providing forums to negotiate interventions in response to complex and changing local conditions, providing opportunities for civil society groups to leverage support from the state, and incentivizing downward responsiveness of state institutions to local needs and interests. Although more democratic processes cannot easily be engineered by state interventions alone, policy can provide some of the conditions that will help to enable these outcomes to emerge over time: (1) through longterm investment in local and subnational democratic institutions with credible mechanisms of accountability; (2) the development of plural support systems that address diverse local needs; and (3) supporting greater integration and articulation across scales, institutions, and between political and administrative authorities.