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California’s Climate Adaptation Water Strategy: An Analysis of Implications for Individual and Community Rights and Responsibilities

Sara S. Moore | July 31st, 2009

The inevitable consequences of climate change will put some of California’s people and communities more at risk than others. Because of location and a limited capacity to adapt, vulnerable populations may face profound and disproportionate harm. California’s Climate Adaptation Strategy planners are seeking ways to address this potential harm.

The California Adaptation Strategy (CAS) Working Groups are seeking to address the impact of climate change on the state’s vulnerable populations. This analysis therefore asks how California can create a policy environment for equitable adaptation processes and outcomes. This analysis begins with a literature review on equity issues in adaptation planning, then examines the Water Working Group’s draft climate adaptation strategies, and then presents the results of twenty-six expert interviews.

Two key concerns in the development of adaptation policy that arise in this analysis are feedback loops between vulnerable communities and policymakers and direct access to resources to enable greater adaptive capacity. While this analysis looks closest at the Water Working Group’s strategies, it is anticipated that many of the findings will apply to the overall strategy.


climate change, disadvantaged communities (DACs), environmental justice, planning and management

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