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Enablers and barriers to building resilience – Bath Spa University

Enablers and barriers to building resilience


Enablers and barriers to building resilience: a coastal community perspective

Wednesday 14 April, 2021 – Wednesday 14 April, 2021
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM


Part of the Hazard, Risk and Disaster (HRD) Research Lecture Series 2020-21.

This lecture discusses climate actions to “build capacity” and “increase climate resilience” but in the context of what does this actually mean for people living in coastal communities? The paper presents a case study of a coastal community in the west of Ireland that is successfully building capacity and building resilience to climate and human pressures. The enablers and barriers to achieving resilience are presented at the local scale, but also scaled up to provide an international context. Local enablers include strategic partnerships (politicians; local authorities; agencies; universities), funding, inclusivity of the entire community, governance structures, media engagement, and diversity in objectives. Local barriers include competing values and priorities, lack of funding, lack of expertise, lack of enforcement, EU protection statuses and (again) governance structures.

It is well known that there are many benefits to be derived in empowering coastal communities and involving them in decision making (bottom-up), e.g., planning decisions that are more likely to be acceptable. It is also known that the socio-economic health of many coastal communities depends on empowering them to be able to make change locally.  What types of roadmaps should we give coastal communities to incentivize them to mobilize (minimize costs vs. maximize opportunities) and reach attainable goals? How can they develop new sustainable tourism opportunities without compromising the coastal ecosystems that host them? Finally, will local-national-EU governance structures and decision making processes be able to adapt to management challenges of future climate and population pressures?

About the speaker

Dr. Eugene Farrell is a physical geographer and a Lecturer in Geography at the National, University Ireland Galway. His research interests are in coastal geomorphology and his adopted scientific approach is largely based on experimental fieldwork and techniques relevant to high-resolution topography, sedimentology, hydrodynamics, and remote sensing. He is applying his academic research to support coastal communities who are taking action to increase their resilience and develop ‘local solutions for local problems’.

His approach and consultation with government bodies emphasizes that community engagement should not be the end goal but part of the process of a “transition” that promotes radical and structural changes of governance of the coastal and marine environments. He is part of the European Marine Board (EMB) Working Group on ‘Coastal Resilience’ to inform EU coastal policy and promote science-based decision making in coastal conservation, restoration, habitat and biodiversity management.

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