Climate Change and Human Security

Climate Change and Human Security

The Challenge to Local Governance under Rapid Coastal Urbanization

Michael R. Redclift, David Manuel-Navarette and Mark Pelling

The challenge presented by climate change is, by its nature, global. The populations of the Mexican Caribbean, the focus of this book, are faced by everyday decisions not unlike those in the urban North. The difference is that for the people of the Mexican Caribbean evidence of the effects of climate change, including hurricanes, is very familiar to them. This important study documents the choices and risks of people who are powerless to change the economic development model which is itself forcing climate change.

Chapter 7: Lived Experiences on the Coast: Holbox and Mahahual

Michael R. Redclift, David Manuel-Navarette and Mark Pelling

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental geography, environmental governance and regulation, environmental politics and policy, environmental sociology, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, european politics and policy, urban and regional studies, urban studies


We began the book by proposing two models of adaptation: ‘ecological modernization’ (large-scale capital) and ‘endogenous livelihoods’. The first model (ecological modernization) was evident throughout the research, in the large-scale, capital-intensive tourist development that has come to characterize much of the coast. The second model we had expected to find was that of the ‘endogenous household’, which employed family labour and exploited locally available resources. The small scale and ‘independence’ of this model enabled some local adaptation to accelerated development and climate change, perhaps combining simple commodity production with wage labour in the tourist sector. This sometimes involved migration from inland, where families cultivated milpa. Field research in Playa and Tulum suggested that a third category of model should be considered: a ‘networked pioneer/entrepreneur’ model largely favoured by outsiders and foreigners seeking to distance themselves from large-scale tourist-induced urbanization. In this chapter we analyse the populations of two geographically separate locations – Isla Holbox and Mahahual – as illustrative of elements of the second and third models described above. We have illustrated how the interplay of development and governance processes is crucial to explain insecurity. Consequently, we have advocated human security approaches focused on the evolution of sociopolitical processes, rather than just on emergency/immediate response by given sociopolitical systems to specific climatic phenomena. This chapter explores human security and the sociopolitical evolution of two fishing communities, Holbox and Mahahual, located in Quintana Roo. In particular we look at local factors that either exacerbate or alleviate the insecurities of local communities doubly exposed...

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