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Project 1: Responsibility in Resilience for Climate Change Adaptation

Researcher: Sara Vermeulen Supervisors: Udo Pesch and Neelke Doorn Due to climate change, there has been an increasing risk of extreme weather events over the last decades, such as heavy rainfall, severe droughts and sudden storms. This can lead to desertification, erosion, water scarcity, flooding, crop failure, food shortage and, as a result, destabilize societies.  Under the header of resilience, citizens are increasingly expected to take responsibility and to transform their own community into a climate resilient living environment. However, this gives rise to pressing ethical questions that have not yet been addressed in the academic literature. Hardly any ethical research has been done to explore what actually constitutes a resilient society, what responsibility arrangements between public and private actors are needed to achieve it, and under what conditions this is ethically acceptable. Moreover, methods for assessing the effectiveness of these arrangements and for making a time-dependent assessment of ethically relevant impacts are lacking. This PhD research project is about responsibilities in resilience for climate change adaptation. The aim of the overall Vidi project is to develop an ethical theory to assess to what extent these responsibilities can be distributed in a way that is ethically acceptable, fair, socially just, and effective.

Project 2: Agent-Based Modelling of Resilience

Researcher: Aashis Joshi Supervisors: Emile Chappin and Neelke Doorn This project will focus on developing multi-actor systems models and a modelling framework to capture the societal context and processes of climate adaptation, and evaluate their effects on different societal actors in terms of resilience and justice. I will use agent-based modelling to represent climate change impacts in social systems and the adaptive actions that different actors are able to take given their circumstances, with the aim to trace out their co-evolving consequences for peoples’ well-being. A key interest is to identify the types of responsibility arrangements among differentially-capable societal actors that are fair, justified, and effective in fostering resilience and social justice in different adaptation contexts. In addition, we also seek to uncover the patterns of societal conditions that are likely to be conducive to the emergence and sustenance of resilient and just responsibility arrangements.

Water and Resilience

Towards fair and effective responses to climate change

Water and Resilience

Climate change asks for measures to reduce climate change but also measures to cope with and adapt to ongoing climate change. In recent years, resilience has emerged as one of the leading paradigms for adaptation policy. For instance, in the European Union, resilience is put forward as the best way to implement climate adaptation. Borrowing from ecology, the term resilience in this context is often linked to the ability of system to recover and adapt after a change. But what does it actually mean for a societal system to be resilient?.

Cities and communities as locus of resilience

This project focuses on the resilience of cities and communities, especially in relation to climate change. Policy aimed at strengthening the resilience of cities or communities often involves new roles or responsibilities for citizens. They may for example be expected to reduce the use of scarce water resources or to contribute to the ‘greening’ of their neighborhood. However, is everyone capable of doing this?

If a resilient city involves individual citizens having to do more while the government withdraws, this could result in undesirable inequalities between communities that are well-organized and communities that lack the social cohesion and self-organization to make their community a resilient one. The project combines philosophical analysis with qualitative methods and modelling tools to investigate under what conditions resilience and climate adaption policies are likely to be effective and socially just.