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WIREs Clim Change
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Public participation, engagement, and climate change adaptation: A review of the research literature

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Abstract There is a clear need for a state‐of‐the‐art review of how public participation in climate change adaptation is being considered in research across academic communities: The Rio Declaration developed in 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) included explicit goals of citizen participation and engagement in climate actions (Principle 10). Nation states were given special responsibility to facilitate these by ensuring access to information and opportunities to participate in decision‐making processes. Since then the need for public participation has featured prominently in calls to climate action. Using text analysis to produce a corpus of abstracts drawn from Web of Science, a review of literature incorporating public participation and citizen engagement in climate change adaptation since 1992 reveals lexical, temporal, and spatial distribution dynamics of research on the topic. An exponential rise in research effort since the year 2000 is demonstrated, with the focus of research action on three substantial themes—risk, flood risk, and risk assessment, perception, and communication. These are critically reviewed and three substantive issues are considered: the paradox of participation, the challenge of governance transformation, and the need to incorporate psycho‐social and behavioral adaptation to climate change in policy processes. Gaps in current research include a lack of common understanding of public participation for climate adaptation across disciplines; incomplete articulation of processes involving public participation and citizen engagement; and a paucity of empirical research examining how understanding and usage of influential concepts of risk, vulnerability and adaptive capacity varies among different disciplines and stakeholders. Finally, a provisional research agenda for attending to these gaps is described. This article is categorized under: Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change > Institutions for Adaptation Policy and Governance > Governing Climate Change in Communities, Cities, and Regions
Analysis methodology, comprising three phases: Search, corpus production, and corpus analysis
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Illustration of the core concepts of the WGII AR5: “Changes in both the climate system (left) and socioeconomic processes including adaptation and mitigation (right) are drivers of hazards, exposure, and vulnerability” (Field et al., , p. 3)
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Clarivate Web of Science subject categories for climate change adaptation and public participation
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Clarivate Web of Science metrics of research effort grouped by geographic area of author affiliation for climate change adaptation and public participation
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Most frequently occurring words in the corpus
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Most frequently occurring trigrams in the corpus
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Number of publications per year. The fitted quadratic curve has an R2 of 0.966
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Policy and Governance > Governing Climate Change in Communities, Cities, and Regions
Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change > Institutions for Adaptation

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