University of Sussex

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Power in fragments? The politics of public participation in climate adaptation governance in Egypt

posted on 2023-06-09, 23:30 authored by Dina Zayed
EMBARGOED (permanently) This dissertation explores the politics of participation in climate adaptation in Egypt. As climate change and its impacts may imply radical policy shifts or costly investments, a global scholarly and practitioner narrative emphasises the pragmatic and normative necessity of participatory planning. But against that narrative is an absence of comparable scholarship attentive to the possibilities of and avenues for participatory adaptation processes in restrictive institutional settings. Through a multi-scalar case-study of Egypt, relying on qualitative and action-driven methodologies, the doctorate aims to improve the understanding of how participation may be conditioned by political regimes. It offers an antecedent empirical account on Egypt’s national climate policy planning efforts, and the ways in which public stakes are acknowledged – looking both at the actors involved in shaping those discourses and the networks they rely on. The dissertation also explores the technocratic visions of coastal adaptation enshrined in an international funded multi-million-dollar project, contrasting those against an experientially driven account of environmental change in Alexandria. The thesis argues that actors both within and outside official policy circles have the interest to manoeuvre around political structures that may appear to discourage wider engagement. Employing a conceptual framing focusing on spaces of informality and the opportunities afforded by ambiguity and policy fragmentation, the doctorate contends that the complexity of climate change may be opening opportunities for discursive influence on the decision-making process. In decoupling an exploration of avenues for participatory politics from a democratisation lens, an attentiveness instead to how power is configured in contingent moments can reveal that beyond presumptions of ossified exclusionary structures of governance are spaces of possibility that need to be bargained for. This study engages with climate change scholarship that seeks to situate and explore how adaptation is constituted by the political, contributing a case study from an underexplored region.


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  • doctoral

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  • eng


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