Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Environmental Engr. (M.S.E.V.)

Degree Granting Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Major Professor

James R. Mihelcic, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda Whiteford, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mauricio Arias, Ph.D.


Community, Local, Planning, Resiliency, Strategies


While climate change trends indicate the progression towards more widespread and severe impacts across the world, current consequences of society’s climate inaction are already being felt by many vulnerable populations. Low-lying and coastal areas are particularly at risk from climate-related hazards such as sea level rise and increased intensity storms. In order to protect residents, countries and regional governments have begun to plan and implement adaptation strategies to minimize the impact of future climate change related disasters.

This thesis explores the current status of bottom-up participatory climate change adaptation planning in the Philippines and offers new insights into making this method more inclusive. Some research questions posted by this thesis were, “How do climate change adaptation strategies change if formed by local community residents compared to higher government officials?”, “Are local government units the appropriate base group when trying to facilitate bottom-up climate change adaptation?”, and “What are the factors that affect the understanding and strategy recommendations of Filipinos in regards to climate change resiliency?”

Using a mixture of focus group discussions and individual interviews, data were collected on the base understanding of climate change of 64 local village residents and 7 local government officials in the Municipality of Calubian, Leyte, Philippines. Village residents and local government officials were also asked to share their ideas and proposals for adaptation strategies that would help to make the municipality more resilient to climate change. The results of the two groups’ adaptation proposals were compared to determine differences in where attention should be focused.

The results of the focus group discussion and interviews showed the village residents were more likely to propose physical solutions to protect against impacts of climate change such as infrastructure projects. The top two proposed adaptation strategies made by village residents were both infrastructure related and included evacuation centers and seawalls. In contrast, local government officials were found to propose systemic adaptation strategies such as trainings and seminars that build social capacity. The differences found between the prioritization of projects between the two groups suggest that local government officials are not the appropriate base group when facilitating bottom-up climate change adaptation planning and that local residents should be invited to engage in the planning process.

Some other insights provided by this research included the finding that differences in distance to the town proper and the main livelihoods of the villages were found to affect the types of adaptation strategies proposed. For example, villages located farther from the town proper were found to propose solutions that will have long term benefit whereas villages nearer to the town proper proposed more immediate solutions to address impacts as they come. Additionally, differences in livelihoods showed that rural village workers were more likely to propose physical solutions while officials in the local government proposed solutions rooted more in knowledge transfer, as was expected based off of past literature. This thesis also found that sources of information, experience with past hazards, and spiritually also play a role in the decision-making of Filipinos towards climate change adaptation strategies. This thesis contributes to the argument that the differences in ideas and opinions between different stakeholder groups, in this case the differences between local government officials and local village residents, necessitates the collaboration and engagement of all relevant groups for participatory planning.