UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The “Adaptation Paradox” and Citizen Ambiguity over Government Climate Policies: Survey Findings from Bangladesh Eisenstadt, Todd A.; Haque, Tawfique; Toman, Michael; Wright, Matthew (Assistant professor of political science)


National governments in the world’s most climate-vulnerable nations are using domestically sourced and international funding and expertise. However, local governments are where citizens in many developing countries turn to solve problems. Using results from a nationally representative sample in Bangladesh, one of the most climate-vulnerable nations in the world, we examine citizens’ perspectives about the responsibility of different levels of government to address climate change problems. Inasmuch as Bangladeshi survey respondents do draw distinctions, they trust local governments more than the national one. However, local governments tend to be relatively weak vis-à-vis the national government: political and financial resources are concentrated there, and the national government has access to the resources of international financial institutions. Furthermore, respondents tend to view local officials as embedded community networks more than as formal government agents. We conclude that better public communications across levels of government with vulnerable communities are needed if these communities are to protect themselves from extreme weather events, access services, and reap the benefits of “polycentric” climate adaptation governance across a full range of levels.

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CC BY 4.0