Network governance and climate change adaptation: Collaborative responses to the Queensland floods

Authors: Susan Kinnear, Kym Patison, Julie Mann, Elizabeth Malone and Vicki Ross
Year: 2013

The project was designed to compare social networks across a range of different geographical, functional, and institutional and regulatory contexts, within the communities of Rockhampton, Emerald and Brisbane, through studying 63 organisations (including community, government, commerce and industry) that participated in the response to Queenland’s major flood disaster during 2010/2011. Slightly higher levels of collaboration amongst organisations were recorded during flood periods compared with routine operations; and organisations tended to provide, as well as receive, information and/or resources from their collaborators. Overall, networks in all three communnities appeared to feature high trust, with only a low level of problematic relationships being reported. With respect to collaboration, being contactable and having effective shared information systems, common goals, trust and knowledge were cited by respondents as the key characteristics of effective partnering organisations. Conversely, a siloed mentality, problems with bureaucracy, and absence from key discussions (such as local disaster management group meetings) were recorded as making collaboration more difficult. The key implications for policy and practice include the need for stakeholders to drive adaptation to climate change through collaboration and communication; the need for stakeholders to share a common goal and language; the need for better engagement with community, diversity and Indigenous organisations; the need to establish collaboration outside of disaster events; and the need for network governance systems to play an important role in helping to facilitate climate change adaptation.

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