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Elvarsdóttir, Silja, 2020. Preventing knowable risk at the cost of long-term thinking : a critical analysis of the discursive construction of adaptation in Icelandic policies. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



The discursive construction of climate change adaptation as a policy issue gives rise to material practices that have real effects on people‘s lives, and should thus be critically interrogated. In the realm of adaptation policies, the Nordic countries have been at the forefront, but for Icelandic decision-makers the topic remains relevantly novel. This study aimed to reveal how Reykjavík municipality and the Government of Iceland represent adaptation as a problem and where their policies and policy suggestions lead to. This was achieved through the use of Bacchi‘s „What‘s the Problem Represented to be?“ approach to discourse analysis, where policy documents and interviews were collected and scrutinized. The results show that Icelandic policymakers are leaning towards technocratic adaptation pathways that privilege experts, prioritize responses to biophysical risk, safeguard neoliberal values, and suggest that adaptive capacity can be achieved through modifications to the status quo. This is highly problematic given that such approaches ignore the societal dimensions of climate change, give rise to short-term thinking, and downplay the need for more transformative change. Furthermore, they have been shown to exasperate existing vulnerabilities, reinforce social inequalities, and lead to maladaptive outcomes. However, the presence of a supplementary sociosystemic conceptualization of adaptation in Icelandic policy discourses suggests the possibility to reframe the issue as a matter of social transformation, which is what numerous scholars are now calling for.

Main title:Preventing knowable risk at the cost of long-term thinking
Subtitle:a critical analysis of the discursive construction of adaptation in Icelandic policies
Authors:Elvarsdóttir, Silja
Supervisor:Söderlund Kanarp, Christoffer
Examiner:Löf, Annette
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2020
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM026 Environmental communication and management - Master's programme
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:climate change adaptation and mitigation, policy discourse, risk, problematization, What’s the Problem Represented to be?, Reykjavík municipality, Government of Iceland
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Nature conservation and land resources
Deposited On:30 Jun 2020 10:54
Metadata Last Modified:01 Jul 2020 01:01

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