Climate change presents irreducible uncertainties which require integrative, strategic, and innovative ways to manage risk. In this context, development planning is often presented as a promising candidate for fundamentally reinforcing key aspects of climate change adaptation. However, the construction of narratives underlying the idea of ‘planning for climate change’ remains dominated by the natural sciences and focused on physical mechanisms rather than social change.
In response, this research draws attention to social factors that define climate change adaptation as a socionatural process. Focusing on the archipelagic country of the Philippines and the island province of Bohol particular, we explore the ways actors from both government and civil-society organisations relate to climate change and view adaptation in their local context. Drawing upon inspiration from post-structuralist philosophies, we undertake a hybrid geographical practice that combines both quantitative and qualitative research approaches.
By forging creative connections between spatial, statistical, and interpretive discourse analysis, we first show that climate change has worked its way into a set of discourses that are beyond climate knowledge as brought about by institutional processes of mainstreaming climate change adaptation. Municipal planning officers in particular build planning significance on a daily basis by combining both technoscientific and local knowledge on climate change.
Meanwhile, we also highlight that actors from government and civil society organisations hold differentiated viewpoints on adaptation, which may lead to divergent perspectives about future development pathways. Yet, these perspectives hold commonalities providing evidence that shared adaptive strategies can emerge across organisational structures and scales.
By highlighting these multiple understandings on climate change and adaptation, we finally provide evidence on how development planning can perform adaptive strategies that fully address climate change uncertainties when it accounts for spatial multiplicities. By building planning processes that recognize both social and biophysical factors, development planning can become a key player for encompassing multiple perspectives and the diversity of knowledge needed for developing inclusive and transformative changes.