Adapting to climate change: reflecting on our shared and uncommon knowledge

Across the country, fire management faces the common challenge of adapting to a changing climate. However, alongside social, environmental and economic changes, climate change will manifest differently across the country. If fire management is to support the capacity of our social-ecological systems to adapt to these interacting changes, the sector itself must be adaptive. Insights from literature across a range of disciplines highlight adoption of a ‘reflexive learning approach’ could enable such a capacity.

Reflexive learning in policy sectors involves exploring the frames and informal institutions that influence the shared (and assumed) knowledge underpinning current practices, policies and governance. It also involves exploring uncommon knowledge for additional ways of framing fire management and its issues. This paper presents research that used this theoretical position to explore the frames and informal institutions of Victoria’s fire management sector.

The analysis indicated a highly institutionalised emergency management frame that, without an explicit reflexive practice that taps into a diverse range of perspectives, fire management’s capacity for reflexive learning and thereby, adaptation may be constrained. Implications for disaster risk reduction (DRR) and adaptation (CCA) efforts within the sector, and for interchanges between DRR and CCA more broadly are discussed.

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