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Contested Development

Human Security and Local Governance in the Mexican Caribbean

The majority of the world’s population and physical assets are urban based, yet little is known of the ways in which competing visions and manifestations of urbanisation effect the social distribution of environmental risk associated with climate change, and the opportunities for new policies to improve human security in coastal zones. Globally, climate perturbations exacerbated by global warming carry important implications for human security, especially in coastal locations. Among the most important of these perturbations is the increased severity of hurricane-force storms.

This research will investigate social and political capacity, and action taken to adapt to the risks and impacts of hurricanes, in an area that is increasingly at the ‘front line’ of global climate change: the Mexican Caribbean coast. It will carry out an interregional comparison across four human settlements in different stages of urban development: Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Mahahual. It will study the evolution of governance regimes, under rapid urbanisation, and its impact on local adaptive capacity through the actions undertaken by state, non-state and individual actors. It will focus on the development of social capital and the uses to which this is put under pressure from risk and impacts of extreme climatic events, employing focus groups, in depth interviews and participant observation. The results will be communicated through international users networks and dedicated Web material.

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