Human and Social Capital for Climate Change Adaptation in Austrian communities

Jill Jäger1, Ines Omann1, Maria Balas2, Georg Feiner1, Christoph Campregher1

1 Sustainable Europe Research Institute, Vienna, Austria

2Environmental Agency Austria, Vienna, Austria

In the Capital-Adapt project funded under the 3rd Call of the Austrian Climate Research Program, a process has been developed and implemented for assessing the role of human capital (e.g., knowledge, skills, health of the population, governance) and social capital (relations of trust, reciprocity, and exchange; the evolution of common rules; and the role of networks) in adapting to climate change. In a series of participatory workshops in an urban area (Klosterneuburg) and a rural area in the mountains (Virgen), participants have moved from considering the possible impacts of climate change to considering potential hotspots of vulnerability to climate change and measures that could be implemented to adapt with a focus on human capital and social capital. These processes have been highly successful in raising awareness about the vulnerability to climate change and have indicated that there is substantial potential to adopt adaptation measures that do not rely on large inputs of financial capital and manufactured capital, which have been the traditional focus of adaptation strategies. The paper outlines the process adopted in the project, the results from the two case studies and a reflection on the indicators for human and social capital at the community level.

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