Accepted paper:

'Isomorphic mimicry' or historical legacy? Climate governance as site of agential resistance and neoliberal ordering in Haiti


Keston Perry (Tufts University)

Paper short abstract:

Haiti's acute exposure to climate change has spurred significant development and climate finance. Contrary to mainstream governance scholarship, this paper challenges the fatalistic narrative as an end state, and suggests a relational approach to understand the empirical dynamics in climate policy.

Paper long abstract:

Haiti's acute exposure to environmental disasters has captured international attention, evinced by the significant flows of donor funding and projects that it has received through climate and development-related finance. Its national climate policies have largely been associated with the relationship between its key governing agencies with international development organisations. Given its economic vulnerability, under-developed institutions, and lack of adaptive capacity, mainstream institutional scholars have dismissed any possibility of achieving significant improvements in governance to address its main development challenges, including enhancing climate resilience. These scholars have suggested that it would take at least a century for the country to achieve a certain level of functional state. Much of this discourse remains anecdotal or based on misleading narratives, not concretely based on empirical research in Haiti. Drawing upon field research conducted and discussions with several stakeholders, this exploratory paper suggests a relational approach to understanding its vulnerability to climate change and its material effects. These impacts interact with global structural dynamics including volatile climate-related finance, its historical circumstances, and neoliberal framings of policy makers and donors. Its climate policies therefore are designed based on the expectation of funding to improve private sector participation with minimal credible commitment by the state. Notwithstanding its difficult position, the evidence suggests that national agents attempt to exercise agency through managing its external legitimacy that would sustain flows of support. Its history of resistance therefore offers a useful prism to understand the tensions between its governance approach to managing international actors, and policy-making for climate-resilient development.

back to panel I1
Acting on Climate change and the environment
Opening up climate and development: what do new forms and frames of intervention mean for the reduction of climate vulnerabilities? [paper]