L’adaptation des littoraux au changement climatique : une gouvernance performative par expérimentations et stratégies d’action publique

Abstract : Sea level rise accelerated by climate change is of major concern at international scale since the 1990’s. From now on, climate change adaptation is institutionalized from global to local scales. I analyze policy making processes related to climate change adaptation in French coastal areas. Two qualitative case studies are at the heart of the thesis: Aquitaine coastline and Martinique Island (French West Indies). They are contrasted in their history, their coastal planning policy and their social dynamics, though they share common processes of attractiveness and vulnerability to submersion and coastal erosion. I analyze discourses, actors and policy instruments in the legitimization of anticipation and preparation as guiding principles to cope with coastal risks and threats. The theoretical framework builds on political sociology of science and policy, as well as insights from pragmatic sociology. Direct observation of local, regional and national consultation and steering committees, semi-structured interviews and documentation analysis are the key methodological approaches. A questionnaire survey has been conducted in the coastal town of Lacanau, on Aquitaine coastline, in order to analyze the way in which residents and users experiment coastal retreat. The main line of argumentation advanced in this thesis is that coastal adaptation to climate change proceeds with performative governance, by which policy devices and narratives are geared towards building adaptation policies upon their interpretive effects. I demonstrate how climate adaptation mainstreaming and planning (adaptation and coastal risks prevention plans…) is combined with experimentalist forms to govern new adaptation options (like planned retreat) and with a new public risk management in which political and institutional risks are as important to prevent as socio-ecological vulnerabilities. The concept of “public action strategy” is built to better capture these forms of managerial policy instruments used for framing, rationalizing and performing a governance of preparedness and adaptation, by means of expert knowledge, collaborative procedures and concertation to render local actors accountable for their own security. State steering practices and decentralization policies are key processes shaping coastal adaptation and risk regulation. This new public risk management strengthens expert configurations for defining and operationalizing coastal risks policy strategies.
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Nicolas Rocle. L’adaptation des littoraux au changement climatique : une gouvernance performative par expérimentations et stratégies d’action publique. Sociologie. Université de Bordeaux, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017BORD0896⟩. ⟨tel-01769993⟩

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