Beyond "Capacity-Building": How Climate Adaptation Strategies Are Built to Fail—And How to Fix Them

This talk will explore the good intentions that are stymied by the structural barriers to participation.

Category: #1 Climate Accessibility [Communities]; #2 Climate Accessibility [Science/Policy]


In rural Alaska, like in many parts of the world, frontline climate communities are approached by well-intentioned experts to conduct climate adaptation, usually through large infrastructure projects. But good intentions are stymied by the structural barriers to participation, which will be explored in this talk. The sacred and the mundane—from internet troubles to Indigenous subsistence practices—are often not considered by urbanites who routinely fail to meet Indigenous communities where they are. What emerges instead is a practice of “capacity building” that often implicitly places pressure on the most vulnerable to adapt to colonial governance systems in exchange for climate assistance.  

About the organiser:

Stephen Lezak studies the politics of climate change adaptation in rural communities and landscapes in Alaska. His research focuses on postcolonial governance and how narratives of Arctic environmental change—specifically around apocalypse, disasters, and frontiers—structure climate governance in the Arctic and elsewhere. 

He was an Expert Reviewer for the IPCC 6th Assessment Report, is a Gates Scholar at the Scott Polar Research Institute, and has advised two US Presidential campaigns on environmental policy.

How to Register

This is an ONLINE session. Registration link to be updated soon.