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Ethical Adaptation to Sea Level Rise: The Planner’s Perspective

Time: Thu 2021-06-10 15.00

Location: Via Zoom:, Stockholm (English)

Subject area: Philosophy

Doctoral student: Anna Wedin , Filosofi, Sea-rims

Opponent: Professor Neelke Doorn, TU Delft

Supervisor: Docent Karin Edvardsson Björnberg, Filosofi; Dr. Per Wikman-Svahn, Filosofi

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This thesis addresses local adaptation to climate change-induced sea level rise, taking an ethical perspective and focusing at the role of planning and the planner. The research, which has been conducted within a transdisciplinary research project, takes a bottom-up approach to applied ethics, and relies to a great extent on empirical data. In doing this, it contributes to the growing field of ethics of climate change adaptation, with results that can be of interest to both ethicists and planners. The thesis consists of an introductory chapter and three articles. 

Article 1: Departing from an interview study with planners working with adaptation to sea level rise in Sweden, a typology of ethical issues is presented. It is shown that planners have to deal with input-oriented, process-oriented, and outcome-oriented ethical issues, and that knowledge of these can contribute to ethical adaptation policy. 

Article 2: A method building on Value Sensitive Design (VSD) and scenario planning is developed and applied to address the challenge of integrating ethics when planning for uncertainty over long time- horizons, in the context of adaptation to sea level rise. The method consists of three steps for scenario development and three steps for value investigations. The application resulted in insights on aspects important for an ethical long-term adaptation to sea-level rise. 

Article 3: Responsibility of adaptation to sea level rise is often assigned to local planners. But what does it mean to be responsible? Departing from the idea of professional virtues, three codes of ethics for planners are analysed to extract aspirational characteristics for planners. The identified virtues are put in relation to central challenges of adaptation, where five virtues stand out as central to the understanding of what it means to be responsible in adaptation to sea level rise.