People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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Adapting to Climate Change at Multiple Governance Levels


12.00pm - 1.00pm Thursday, 12 August 2010

Sir George Fisher Building (DB 32) Conference Room 114 JCU
Pedro Fidelman, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Dr Pedro Fidelman is a research fellow with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University. Pedro’s research, in a broad sense, focuses on the institutional dimension of socio-ecological systems. The notion of systems of policies, regulations, decision-making-processes and property rights (known as institutions) that govern human-environment interactions is central to his research. He is particularly interested in examining how institutions, at multiple levels and scales, can be designed and changed to promote improved environmental governance. This includes: (a) examining institutional responses to overuse and degradation of natural resources, and to climate change; (b) analysing institutional interactions at multiple levels (local, sub-national, national, international and intermediate levels); and, (c) identifying governance attributes that promote (or otherwise) sustainable resources use and management.


Adaptation is one of the main approaches being employed to address the impacts of the changing earth’s climate system. Adaptation is a process by which individuals, groups and organisations seek to cope with the effects of climate change. It can involve both building adaptive capacity (i.e., increasing the ability of individuals, groups, organisations to adapt to changes) and implementing adaptation decisions (i.e. transforming adaptive capacity into action). Whereas the process of adaptation is not new; the idea of incorporating future climate risk into policy-making is. Priority research in this area includes understanding institutional responses (e.g., policies, legislation, decision-making processes etc.) to climate change, and what lessons can be learned from different institutional arrangements, particularly in consideration of the specific types of natural environments they manage. In this seminar, I provide some insights into how Australian governments (at local, state and federal levels) are responding to climate change, by using the Great Barrier Reef as a case study. Adaptation is examined in terms of its type, purposefulness, triggers, and spatial and temporal scope. The concept of institutional interplay (i.e., the interactions between and among institutions at and across multiple levels) is also explored, to highlight the importance of considering multiple and nested levels of governance in adaptation policy.


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