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Adaptation finance archetypes: local governments’ persistent challenges of funding adaptation to climate change and ways to overcome them

Susanne C. Moser, Susanne Moser Research & Consulting; Antioch University New England
Julia A. Ekstrom, Climate Change Program, California Department of Water Resources; Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy, University of California, Davis
Julia Kim, Local Government Commission
Samantha Heitsch, ICF International


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Faced with increasing climate extremes and climate change impacts, local governments in California are eager to advance their adaptation measures and build local resilience. However, as previous studies and day-to-day interactions with local leaders make clear, identifying ways to resource adaptation is one of the most significant barriers to progress. This paper draws on selected findings from a study that aimed to better describe the nature of the adaptation finance challenges local governments face so as to find ways to overcome them. Building on initial findings from an online survey and nine stakeholder workshops to deepen the understanding of the nature of funding and financing challenges for local governments, we use a methodological innovation in archetype analysis, grounded theory, to develop a suite of 15 archetypal adaptation finance challenges, i.e., repeatedly found patterns of interrelated causal factors, traits, and outcomes ranging from establishing a matter of concern worthy of attention (and funding) to acquiring, using, and managing adaptation finance. These archetypes are found across different types and sizes of local governments facing different climate change threats. The resulting deeper understanding of local adaptation funding challenges represents an important contribution to the literature and opens up new avenues for intervention beyond the prevailing focus on creating new funding vehicles. We offer archetype-specific recommendations to overcome or reduce these critical finance challenges in local climate change adaptation.

Key words

archetype analysis; barriers; California; climate change adaptation; finance; local government

Copyright © 2019 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087