Environmental Science & Policy 54 (2015) 463–474

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Environmental Science & Policy
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/envsci

Exploring farmer preference shaping in international agricultural
climate change adaptation regimes
Chase Sova a,b,c,*, Joost Vervoort a,c, Thomas Thornton c, Ariella Helfgott a,c,d,
David Matthews c, Abrar Chaudhury c
a

CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Denmark
International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Colombia
Environmental Change Institute (ECI), University of Oxford, United Kingdom
d
University of Adelaide, Australia
b
c

A R T I C L E I N F O

A B S T R A C T

Article history:
Received 6 January 2015
Received in revised form 8 July 2015
Accepted 12 August 2015
Available online 29 August 2015

Questions of equity, justice, and fairness in the international agricultural adaptation regime have
emerged in recent years, prompting interest in regime power dynamics. Here, a three-dimensional
conceptual framework of ‘power as domination’ is applied to the UNFCCC adaptation regime. We argue
that this ‘power-over’ framing is an important lens through which to view adaptation, a field dominated
by ‘power-to’, capacity-based constructs. The framework distinguishes between power-over manifesting through decision-making, agenda setting and preference shaping. Through a literature review we
demonstrate that first and second dimension behavioral views of power-over fail to account for the
subtle ways in which the interests and preferences of smallholder farmers are unknowingly shaped and
restricted within the regime. Potential sources of third dimension preference shaping power are
explored in a survey with high-level decision makers involved in National Adaptation Plans (NAP)
development in seven countries. The results suggest that several inter-related features of the
international agriculture adaptation regime collectively contribute to the shaping of interests and
preferences of smallholders: prevailing discourses of uncertainty and the perceived limited capacity of
smallholders; the resulting privileged status of ‘expert’ decision makers; the predominance of neoliberal
development rationalities; and systemic biases resulting from the nation state as the principle unit of
UNFCCC negotiation. These forces lie beyond the explanatory scope of first and second dimensions of
power-over and help to explain why stakeholder engagement in adaptation decision making remains
superficial in nature and why adaptation responses in agriculture can be considered ‘common and nondifferentiated’. We argue for increased awareness of third dimension manifestations and impacts of
power in adaptation literature to facilitate the improved participation of marginalized stakeholders in
UNFCCC and domestic adaptation decision making forums, to increase the diversity of adaptation
options available to smallholders, and ultimately, to improve the attribution of responsibility for
adaptation outcomes.
ß 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords:
Climate change
Agriculture
Adaptation
Power-over
Preference shaping
National adaptation plans

1. Introduction
Adaptation to climate change has gained prominence in recent
international negotiations (Kates, 2000; Smit and Wandel, 2006;
Pielke et al., 2007; Adger et al., 2006; Schipper, 2006). This can be
attributed to the slow progress in achieving binding emission

* Corresponding author at: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change,
Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Denmark.
E-mail addresses: c.sova@cgiar.org, chase.sova@gmail.com,
chase.sova@gtc.ox.ac.uk (C. Sova).
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2015.08.008
1462-9011/ß 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

reduction mechanisms as well as the manifestation of climate
impacts through increased frequency of extreme events (IPCC,
2013). The agricultural sector is both especially vulnerable to the
impacts of climate change and a major contributor to greenhouse
gas emissions (GHGs) (Burton and Lim, 2005; Vermeulen et al.,
2012a,b). However, the sector has yet to receive serious attention
during United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) negotiations (Campbell et al., 2014). This is due to a
variety of factors including the degree to which agriculture
features in national economies, the prominence of ‘competing’
sectors for climate finance (e.g. forestry), fear over domestic

Sova et al. One consistent. ‘manifestations’ and ‘faces’ have all been used in describing power or its characteristics. / Environmental Science & Policy 54 (2015) 463–474 restrictions on land use management and terms of trade. 2001. 2001. 2000. Discussions of equity. by one group over another. 2005b. and power-over is considered by some authors to be a ‘subspecies’ of power-to (Lukes. ‘species’. 2005a. p. and lead to improved policy and institutional design (Sherman and Ford. Mills. In seeking to raise the adaptive capacity of vulnerable populations. 1996.e. 1991. we propose a typology of third dimension preference shaping sources that disadvantage smallholder farmers.. Jamieson.e. ontological and epistemological foundations are difficult to identify. both contributing to greater resource and social capital availability but without explicit recognition of relational power. 2007). Taylor. Following this introduction. prevailing dichotomy used by power theorists consists of distinguishing between ‘power to’ and ‘power-over’ (Morriss. Clegg. in advancing the three-dimensional lens we argue that when analyzing agricultural climate change adaptation traditional behavioral views of power-over (i. third-dimension of power-over (i. It seeks to provide a more thoroughgoing synthesis of power than previous treatments in environmental governance literature. Some theorists. 2009.. This focus on power-to. 1956). whether or not that capacity is exercised. Barnett and Duvall. 2013). a broad overview of the treatment of power across various disciplines is provided. Sherman and Ford. among other barriers. focusing attention instead towards powerlessness as a relational construct (i. multiple typologies and theories have developed in order to capture its essence (Gallie. emerging from this debate. and illustrate instances of preference shaping through literature and survey data. 2005. Sova et al. when power-to interventions fail to achieve the desired results and commensurate improvements in adaptive capacity. How do we know that power has been ‘exercised’?) (Dahl.464 C. Power in adaptation: power-to versus power-over Power is a ubiquitous term and its various origins. but is also derived from a less-visible. Reed. 2005). Specifically. 2010. Adding to the typological complexity. ‘Bases’. Others have aimed to identify the basic nature of power (i. 1980. This reflects the understanding that power is derivative of not only one’s individual or collective agency (powerto) but also the relational. Adaptive capacity can be defined as the ability or potential of a system to respond successfully to climate variability and change (Adger et al. 1984). This is followed by a discussion regarding the utility of the three dimensional view and the insights it produces in section 9 and concluding remarks in section 10. Reid and Huq. Climate change adaptation theorists have written widely on the concept of adaptive capacity. 53). That is. 2006. the issue of justice firmly applies to adaptation as well (Arler. have aimed to explore the origins of power (i. 1961. provides an alternative to the predominant ‘view’ of powerlessness in adaptation regimes as a product of limited capability or capacity (i. these two framings cannot exist independently of one another. Rose and Kverndokk. Flood and Romm. does not place sufficient emphasis on the subtle ways in which certain actors exercise power-over others within adaptation regimes.. As Ringen points out. preference shaping) often neglected by positivist scholars (Lukes. along with a brief summary of power in adaptation literature. Dellink et al. Sources of third dimension power resulting from section 6 are further evidenced through a questionnaire administered to high-level decisionmakers from seven developing countries at COP 19 in Warsaw in sections 7 and 8. while some have sought to identify the manifestations of power (i. 1996. Barnett and Duvall. many theorists explore some combination of these framings. 2005). Polsby. Plaw. ‘foundations’. who or what is considered vulnerable. power-over). 2013. the ability of international negotiations to deliver equitable and just outcomes for the rural poor has been put in to question. particularly in the realm of adaptation financing and stakeholder participation (Thomas and Twyman. Muller. Given the ‘essentially contested’ nature of power. In methodological language. 2013). Greene and Elfrers. Explicitly acknowledging the role of power in adaptation regimes can improve our understanding of its origins and manifestations. Power relations between actors in adaptation regimes can determine how adaptation is defined.e. We review diverse conceptualizations of power across various disciplines and introduce modern interpretations of power as advanced by ‘elite-centered’ and ‘pluralist’ debates in political science.. In the language of power theorists. Yet how these power dynamics are conceived in studies of governance is not well understood (Biermann et al. Grasso. 2001. 42). 1980. That is. 1974. Oliga. 2006. we argue. 2014. 1979).e. Foucault.. justice and fairness in the climate change adaptation literature have emerged in greater number as of late. Power-to refers to power as a capacity. 2014). decision making and agenda setting) are insufficient in capturing the myriad ways in which power manifests in climate change adaptation regimes. 2009. Broadly speaking. 2005. Lukes. While there have been many examinations of both procedural and distributive justice in the area of climate change mitigation. 1962.e. 2008. This is due to the diverse ways in which we can think about power. 2002. Meanwhile. a lack of power-to). 1982. This paper asks: ‘‘in what ways does third dimension preference shaping power manifest in the international agricultural adaptation regime?’’ In advancing this question. 2007). Lebel. 1982. adaptive capacity represents a clear power-to framing. and asymmetrical interactions between the agencies of two or more individuals (power-over). Bachrach and Baratz. 1974. 2010. 1959. Where does power lie? What are the principle characteristics of power?) (French and Raven.. power in the UNFCCC is derivative not only of visible negotiating resources or the established ‘rules of the game’ outlined in the convention’s charter. Underlying the discussions on equity.. 2. power-over indicates the securing of compliance. Barrett. 1970.. 2014. Hindess. this article seeks to make power the subject of analysis instead of. justice. Bourdieu. p. Giddens. Arendt. and fairness in each of these studies is the concept of power. Lukes’ framework. 1998. Ringius et al. 2002).e. Morgan and Waskow. ‘‘an answer known in advance’’ (2002. 1978. Azar. Adger et al. Wolfinger. some ‘‘definitions [of power] conflate the thing power and the outcome of its use. Okereke et al. Where is power derived from? What are its sources?) (Weber. 2005.e. 2007). or domination. 2014. Lukes’ dimensional view of power is then introduced in Section 3 and is followed by an assessment of the current state of agricultural adaptation within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Section 4. Of course. for example. Parsons. Consequently. theorists propose institutional designs and new technologies. The competing viewpoints around climate change responses in agriculture have been responsible for delaying implementation of adaptive measures to assist highly vulnerable small-scale farmers. they do not separate the independent from dependent variables which is a recipe for confused analysis’’ (2013. 1999. A literature review applying Lukes’ dimensional framework of power to the UNFCCC process is provided in section 5 (first and second ‘behavioral’ dimensions) and 6 (third dimension preference shaping). ‘sources’. in the words of Mitchell. 1989. Few et al. Steven Lukes. we must look beyond the capacity framing at asymmetrical or relational . and its limited application to date in empirical studies. and what adaptive measures are prioritized. 1956). 1967. offers a three-dimensional view of power that is adopted here (1974. we argue.

not concentrated in the hands of a ruling elite. whether through the operation of social forces and institutional practices or through individual’s decisions. critics question whether non-decisions (e. As such. p. Polsby.e. While Bachrach and Baratz’s second dimension marked a welcome advance on the work of pluralist theorists. 3. The solution lied in studying the visible. 171). and failure to take in to account so called ‘non-decisions’. Specifically. can occur in the absence of actual. 2007). 2006. pp.S. 1974). Wright Mills’ seminal statement that ‘‘whether they [decision makers] do or do not make such decision is less important than the 465 fact that they do occupy such pivotal positions’’ (Mills. in fact. p. ‘‘In both cases (that of first and second dimension theorists)’’. Instead. ignores those situations in which decision are prevented from happening or are not taken. What one may have here is a latent conflict. the so-called neo-elitists (Dahl. 28)’’ In summary (see Table 1). Three-dimensional power This paper adopts an understanding of power as captured in Lukes’ seminal work. which consists in a contradiction between the interests of those exercising power. The first two dimensions examine visible decision making and so called non-decisions as they occur in formal and informal political forums. 1956. and the real interests of those they exclude (2005. agenda setting. which traces debates between ‘elite-centered’ and ‘pluralist’ power theorists in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s and articulates three emerging dimensions of ‘power as domination’: decision making. p. p. This. Bachrach and Baratz suggest that when no conflict can be identified then it must be presumed that consensus on the allocation of values has been reached (1970). the ‘‘most effective and insidious use of power is to prevent such conflict from arising in the first place’’ (2005. 4). and preference shaping. The third dimension. claiming that. power exercises. Lukes rejects this view. Lukes succinctly defines this first dimensional view of power as one that ‘‘focuses on behavior in the making of decisions on issues over which there is an observable conflict of (subjective) interests. observable conflict. what is important in peoples lives) and the ability of an agent to impact on the interests of a subject. or what they suggest to be the ‘‘confining the scope of decision making to relatively ‘safe’ issues’’ (1970. conflict that is played out head-to-head (first dimension) or which is denied entry in to the political process (second dimension). Additionally. It refers to the tendency for potential issues or conflicts to be successfully kept out of politics— in both formal and informal venues—by ‘‘shaping the perceptions. Dahl believed that studies of U. he points to the ways in which individuals in strategic positions become complicit in domination through their inaction or through other less visible. commonly ignored by behaviourist or positivist scholars. in Lukes’ framework. 2005). This third dimension is especially concerned with the topic of interests (i. 202–203). and preference shaping dimensions. Power in this second dimension. intentional exercises of power in key decision making settings and ascertaining the frequency of who wins and who loses with respect to the issues at hand (Lukes. revealed by political participation’’ (2005.e. or ‘‘a qualified critique of the behavioral focus on the first view allowing for consideration of the ways in which decisions are prevented from being taken on potential issues over which there is an observable conflict of (subjective) interests. may never in fact be actualized. The second dimension of power—agenda setting The second dimension of power is captured in the work of Bachrach and Baratz (1962) in their critique of purely pluralistic. favorable to a ruling elite or status quo defenders. In articulating this second dimension of power. which may have been averted—though there remains here an implicit reference to potential conflict. 2005). 27). quantifiable way (Merelman. politics that suggested power to lie in the hands of a ruling elite were flawed in that the analyses reflected reputation. however. Lukes suggests. moreover. the pluralist framework is charged with taking over the bias of the political system under observation. seen as express policy preferences. The first dimension of power—decision making Lukes’ first dimension of power has been historically advanced by ‘pluralist’ ideologies. power does not ‘‘need to involve deliberate and strategic manipulation’’ (Lukes. 3. a power-over framing in adaptation can assist in the allocation of responsibility for adaptation outcomes that does not fall on the vulnerable alone. visual behavior (Lukes. simply reflecting the inherent biases as evidenced by actual. 44). p. Barchrach and Baratz employ C.3. Bachrach and Baratz criticize the pluralist’s over-emphasis on behavior. Wolfinger. 24). ‘‘Power. behavioral views of first dimensional power. The third dimension of power—preference shaping Common to the first two dimensions of power is the existence of an identifiable conflict of competing interests. 28). Lukes’ dimensional framework focuses on power-over (i.2. in particular. cognitions and preferences of subordinates in such a way that they accept their role in the existing order of things or imagine no alternative to it’’ (Lukes. and sometimes unintentional. Lukes’ framework was among the first to facilitate the empirical study of power beyond its visible manifestations as traditionally considered by positivist scholars. and his work ‘‘Who Governs’’ (1961) and ‘‘A Critique of the Ruling Elite Model’’ (1958) treats the analysis of power in an objective. / Environmental Science & Policy 54 (2015) 463–474 dynamics between actors. if B fails to act because he anticipates A’s reaction) lend themselves to empirical study. 1968). As it is the exercise of domination over others that is of immediate concern in evaluating social systems (Plaw. not actual power. 1974).C. 1957. 1961. The third dimension of power challenges this assumption. in his critique Lukes suggests that Bachrach and Baratz remain too committed to the study of actually behavior and concrete decisions (and non decisions). The third dimension of power is defined by a notable absence of an overt conflict of competing interests. and. The pluralist perspective owes its name to Dahl’s findings that power in New Haven (his seminal case study) is distributed amongst a plurality of actors. Lukes and other critics of the one-dimensional view of power note that this approach recognizes only one face of power.g. p. p. 19). A Radical View (PRV)’’ (1974. This potential.1. p. The pluralist view of power can be described such that ‘‘A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something B would not otherwise do’’ (Dahl. Lukes defines third dimensional power as: ‘‘Involving a thoroughgoing critique of the behavioural focus of the first two views as too individualistic and allows for consideration of the many ways in which potential issues are kept out of politics. is the power to decide what is decided. 1980. 2005. ‘‘the assumption is that interests are consciously articulated’’ (2005. Robert Dahl is considered the preeminent scholar within this dimension. agenda setting. 3. then. His three dimensional view promotes a wider understanding of power that does not require actual foresight and positive actions in its exercise. power as domination) as it manifests in decision making. 1974). seen as embodied in express policy preferences and sub-political grievances’’ (Lukes. is characterized by a distinct lack of conflict between actor groups and addresses the ways in which the interests and preferences of certain actors are . 3. Sova et al. In fact.

as does high physical vulnerability. Countries experience different vulnerability to climate change.466 C. There are countless examples of countries ‘strong-arming’ the UNFCCC process (i. the G77 + China defeated consensus over the inclusion of agriculture in SBSTA negotiations. Adaptation to climate change gained momentum starting from the release of the IPCC Third Assessment Report (IPCC. . Decision making at COP relies on consensus as articulated in Article 7 of the Convention. agriculture’s broader position within the UNFCCC is relevant to the underlying power dynamics within the regime. delegation size. Ultimately. those opposing agriculture’s place within a binding UNFCCC agreement have won-out within the COP process.e. 2012). Meanwhile. the work stream on Loss and Damage (L&D) (UNFCCC. Focus on: (a) Decision-making and nondecison-making (b) Key issues (c) Observable (overt) conflict (d) (Subjective) interests. in this case vulnerability). Focus on: (a) Decision making and control over agenda (not necessarily through decisions) (b) Issues and potential issues (c) Observable (overt or covert).e. is regularly cited for its obstructionist behavior during the COP negotiations given their concerns of mitigation policies and their potentially damaging effects on the country’s oil-based economy (Depledge. but recommendations to the COP are not expected until 2016 (Campbell et al. 5. exaggerated or radical views). It introduces behavioral. writing on bargaining success in climate change negotiations and testing six central categories of bargaining resources for their impact on COP outcomes: country’s external power (i. 2011).e. traditional balance of power in the international regime. including the Adaptation Committee. Agricultural adaptation and the UNFCCC The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the supreme body of the UNFCCC. agriculture is not addressed directly within the UNFCCC COP negotiations (Campbell et al. and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF). their GHG emissions from agriculture vary in size. The first dimension of power: decision making in agricultural adaptation From a first dimension perspective. in particular. it still accounts for a comparatively small proportion of investment when compared to mitigation. seen as policy preferences revealed by political participation (b) Issues and potential issues (c) Observable (over or covert) conflict (d) (Subjective) interests. views on the inclusion of agriculture in international climate agreements depend on the extent to which agriculture features in national economies. Since then. mainly within Article 4 (UNFCCC. One-dimensional view of power (decision making) Two-dimensional view of power (agenda setting) Three-dimensional view of power (preference shaping) Behavioral. Decision making and agenda setting: the ‘behavioral’ dimensions of power 5. Saudi Arabia. Each of these initiatives is aimed at providing resources for developing countries to adapt to climate change. A getting B to do something he wouldn’t otherwise do). The ultimate objective of the Convention is to prevent ‘dangerous’ human interference with the climate system. Focus on: (a) Decision making (Qualified) critique of behavioral focus. proposing solutions. Power in this first dimension has been the preferred ‘lens’ of analysis for power theorists in climate change governance. the sector supports the world’s most vulnerable populations and investment has dropped substantially in the past decades. and others. citing that the focus of discussions around agriculture should remained solely on adaptation (Group of 77 and China.e. As such. Supporters argue that food systems contribute up to 29% of global green house gas (GHG) emissions when indirect sources from landuse change are considered (Vermeulen et al. 4. GDP and economic status). Having introduced our conceptual framework. agricultural adaptation in the UNFCCC.. Countries that may benefit from Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) policies. to ‘win’. Of total climate financing. we now turn to our case study context. and the powerladen ‘rules of the game’ within the UNFCCC. 2013). Since 2009 at COP 15 in Copenhagen. but the Convention contains several provisions for adaptation. only 5 percent of resources have been directed toward climate change adaptation (Buchner et al. impacting both mitigation and adaptation. At COP 19 in Warsaw. In Sub-Saharan Africa where 47% of climate change projects are adaptation related.. as do their opportunities to reduce emissions from changes in agricultural practices. Sova et al. While our focus remains on adaptation. 2014). in this formal setting is tantamount to breaking with consensus. demands. 1992). the mission focuses primarily on mitigation of GHG emissions. the Bali Action Plan. and most recently. the total amount of funds approved for mitigation projects is three times that of adaptation (Afful-Koomson. 2014). According to Beddington et al. 2014). 2012b). internal power (i. seen as policy preferences or grievances Critique of behavioral focus. / Environmental Science & Policy 54 (2015) 463–474 Table 1 Summary of Lukes’ dimensional views of power. may see the inclusion of agriculture as delaying or competing for climate finance. the level of importance of an issue.. What follows in the next section is an application of Lukes’ first (decision making) and second (agenda setting) dimensions of power within the international agricultural adaptation regime.. Weiler (2012) exemplifies this approach. Agriculture is currently being discussed in the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA). These bargaining ‘resources’. and compromise). extremity of positions (i. unknowingly shaped.e.e. several milestones around adaptation have been achieved within the convention including the establishment of the Adaptation Fund (AF). He concludes that an increase in external power (total GDP) improves the probability of success. and latent conflict (d) Subjective and real interests Source: Adapted from Lukes (2005). negotiation skill. Although adaptation has gained momentum in recent years. delegate leader). National Adaptation Plans (NAP). 2001). for example. the Nairobi Work Program. this article does not constitute a referendum on the inclusion or exclusion of agricultural within the UNFCCC.1. and the Cancun Adaptation Framework. We have also seen the establishment of National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA). 2013). 2008). threats. have helped to shape COP outcomes since inception in 1992. Least Developed Country Fund (LDCF). hard versus soft bargaining strategies (i. salience (i. (2012). Meanwhile. a host of governments and international civil society organizations have petitioned for agriculture’s improved visibility within COP negotiations (Agriculture and Rural Development Day. or visible manifestations of power as they occur through negotiation bargaining resources.

and the underlying principle of CBDR. 2001. manifests in instances of visible decision-making in formal settings. 1971). p. lack of sufficient funding was the principle reason for the lack of NAPA (UNFCCC. the scale of funding for adaptation remains incommensurate with need. The sources of preference shaping in these previous studies have been derived anecdotally. while not addressed comprehensively in any single article (nor in the charter’s ‘objective’). This is because these preference shaping features are contextually dependent. 2013). takes significant decisions outside of the negotiating arena. 2013). Yet the lack of funding commitment by Annex I countries can be considered an act of non-decision making consistent with seconddimension power. to-date only USD $603. decisions are made on a double weighted majority that takes in to account the member’s total financial contributions. 2002). the European Union.2. Power politics implicates traditionally ‘Great Powers’ including US. Japan and Russia. argues that efforts to frame the climate discussions in ‘ethical and universalist’ ways has failed and have given way to power politics focusing on economic competitiveness. and financial transfers. While there is equal representation from both developed and developing countries on the 32-member GEF Council. Contributions to the main financial mechanisms for adaptation—Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF). voluntary burdens. and the transfer of technology to developing nations (Mace. weigh more (2001). and the inclusion of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) (Okereke. This includes discourses of uncertainty and the perceived capacity of farmers. preference shaping power manifestations within the regime as derived from adaptation literature. Annex I countries are simply not making good on their financial pledges. however. Some international relations authors suggest that the climate change impasse could even be resolved via high-level bilateral negotiations between the U. This includes national and subnational features of UNFCCC member countries that can shape international outcomes (McKibbin and Wilcoxen. especially to Parties that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change’’ (ADP. less visible factors that shape the interests of smallholders that cannot be accounted for by the purely behavioral manifestations identified here. 2012). the underlying neoliberal development rationality that determines ‘viable’ adaptation pathways. including a voluntary fund for developing country participation in COP meetings. and an emerging China. among others. balanced and equitable process by recognizing the differing economic circumstances and ‘special needs’ of countries. for example. is referred to across the document outlining actions related to funding. another second dimension power manifestation. in effect. If the analysis were to end after the first and second dimensions of power. As noted in the NAP guidelines. 2008). each with differing. In fact. Non-decision making. at present. the rule of anticipated reactions) to a potential action (Freidrich. one might be tempted to conclude that developing countries and their constituents (farmers. This compared to annual adaptation needs assessments estimated to be in the range of USD $100 billion to USD $450 billion a year (Schalatek et al. without the direction of an analytical framework. Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF-A). 1980). means that the votes of GEF council members from countries that make the large contributions to the UNFCCC. Consensus voting also offers developing nations a veto against proposals by developed countries (although this tactic has been used more frequently by developed nations). especially visible in agriculture’s exclusion from a formal agreement. There are still. 2006).e.4 million had been approved for activities from the LDCF 467 (GEF. face no financial obligation.C. in this case) are well placed within the international adaptation regime. energy policy. if these programs are not adequately funded then concerns regarding distributive justice may remain unmet. We. Developing nations within the UNFCCC. like consensus voting. and leveraging assumptions regarding the anticipated response of powerful actors (i. The following section introduces potential third dimension. with a strong G77 + China voting block and rules of the game that seek to ensure equitable outcomes for all parties. Mace (2006) discusses buried inequities in adaptation funding. To date. relational power politics. The fact that the climate change convention is handled under the auspices of the United Nations has handed several procedural victories to developing countries in the way of equitability. propose that from the limited accounts of such factors. The third dimension of power: preference shaping in agricultural adaptation Lukes provides admittedly little direction for analysts to determine what system features enable the third dimension of power to be exercised. and systemic bias resulting from the distance that farmers sit from international negotiations. Significant efforts have been made to ensure second dimension equity within the UNFCCC process (Heyward. where in a case of conflicting interests certain groups win out over that of others by wielding superior resource bases or employing traditional. another critical second dimension concept. (2) the prevailing ‘rationalities’ and technologies of government that have come to be accepted as inevitable in identifying solutions. 2005). extension of UNFCCC membership to include UN specialized agencies. This. 5. The second dimension of power. and Adaptation Fund— remain voluntary. Crenson. Annex 1 and non-Annex 1 classifications. the fundamental principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ (CBDR) seeks to ensure fair. 2014. Adaptation. Sova et al. Moreover. flooding the media with a biased perspective (Graetz and Shapiro. (3) and the institutional design features that inadvertently limit an individual’s choices or exclude certain groups from participating in . 6. the UNFCCC ‘rules of the game’ seem to favor developing nations. however. The second dimension of power: agenda setting in agricultural adaptation The ‘rules of the game’ concerning adaptation are spelt out in UNFCCC Convention articles. inducing. Outwardly at least. Several sources of preference shaping have been explored by Lukes’ and subsequent authors including the perpetuation of historical narratives to support a particular view. insurance.S. reinforcing and exploiting misconceptions (Gaventa. 2007). separating signatories in to Annex I (developed countries) and non-Annex I (developing countries) categories. The first dimension of power. manifests through non-funding of adaptation initiatives by developed countries. manifests through the UNFCCC ‘rules of the game’. and China (Terhalle and Depledge. / Environmental Science & Policy 54 (2015) 463–474 The one-dimensional view is also prevalent among international relations theorists. The UNFCCC’s financial mechanism. according to Streck. India and Brazil. then. Brenton (2013). Bernstein. 2002.. Sprinz. 2). relevant to the context of climate change adaptation: (1) the dominant narratives (discourses) that contribute to adaptation stakeholder and problem identification. three sources of preference shaping power can be explored. 1941. 2012). While the National Adaptation Plans (NAP) and National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA) guidelines seek to ensure equity in procedural justice. Finally. The most recent COP decision text does no more than to ‘‘urge developed country Parties to provide and mobilize enhanced financial support to developing country Parties for ambitious mitigation and adaptation actions. the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Procedural equity within the UNFCCC process. and integrated assessment models (RamirezVillegas et al. Fankhauser and McDermott. That climate change is a global phenomenon that manifests locally is what Ayers refers to as the adaptation paradox (2011). Guatemala. The second section of the survey asked respondents to indicate their level of agreement with 18 questions concerning the proposed sources of preference shaping. Brugnach and Ingram. extends as far as the nation state. 2014).. Spires et al. 2005. The second proposed preference shaping source. 2013). smallholders) in to the decision making process. 2010. and India completed the questionnaire. / Environmental Science & Policy 54 (2015) 463–474 decision making. 2012). Likert-scale questions are a common response scaling technique measuring the level of respondent agreement or similar metric (e. in effect. 2013. 1983) in which smallholders are unaware of the portfolio of adaptation responses available to them and the subtle ways in which that portfolio has been modified such that some adaptations are supported and others blocked. While these sources of third dimension preference shaping have been derived from adaptation literature to this point. Huq and Khan. Huq and Khan. Thornton and Comberti. 2012. Prevailing ‘rationalities’ of government The effect of this perceived reliance on expert-led decisionmaking in adaptation regimes is a bias toward the promotion of neoliberal rationalities in adaptation responses (Okereke. These stakeholders came together for a CGIAR research program on Climate Change. 2013.1. As noted in the IPCC 5th Assessment Report. Kosamu. adaptation interventions remain mainly engineered and technical in nature (Agrawal.g. Dominant discourse of uncertainty and the perceived capacity of non-expert agents constitute the first potential source of third dimension power explored here. prevailing rationalities. the principle unit of negotiation. Few et al. 2008). as Kates demonstrates. 2013.). The final source of preference shaping is systemic institutional bias. there is an inherent tension in adaptation planning between the principles of public participation and the unique requirements of expert-led anticipatory decision-making.g. or ‘inevitable’. 6. then. and trends in adaptation regimes for each of the three sources of preference shaping discussed here.. In both . 6. 2010). A total of 14 high-level representatives—the entire group of workshop participants— from Mali.468 C. and deals with the collective multilevel nature of the climate change response and the inadvertent structural challenges it presents smallholders. 2014). 2003. and the potential impacts affect a wider range of human and earth systems (2014). Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) workshop entitled ‘‘National Adaptation Plans and agriculture: A learning workshop’’. national planning commissions. etc.. a form of a-political adaptive preference shaping (Elster. Spires et al. equity within adaptation regime focuses on poor countries and not poor people. Khan and Roberts. is prevailing rationalities and technologies of government. 6. This reduces the need for integration of ‘non-experts’ or those perceived to have low capacity (e. resource dependent societies exhibit profound structural inequalities that reinforce poverty and status quo class regimes (Ribot. Dovers and Hezri. Pramova et al. 2013. or by other vested non-governmental organizations. These sources are introduced here and explored in further detail in sections 7 and 8. including climate change council members. Niger. The survey aims to highlight (albeit indirectly) the prevalence of narratives of uncertainty and the associated perceived importance of ‘expert’ agents. as captured in Foucault’s concept of ‘governmentality’ (1991). Vincent. 7. interests of poor people are not always the same as the interests of poor countries.. 2013. since in the interest of ‘development’ the poor may grow poorer (2000). Some adaptation theorists refer to this as the development deficit (Burton. This poses significant challenges for conventional economic and environmental planning tools. Rationalities. Burkina Faso. but are rather the product of unintentional. 2008. Systemic institutional bias COP is characterized by a system of representation where small-scale farmers are represented in formal negotiations by expert agents of their respective governments. The group consisted of both ‘political’ and ‘technical’ representatives. Processes of regime formation in such instances occur at a distance and necessarily limit public participation (Okereke.. and systemic institutional bias). 2007. The first asked the respondents to identify the importance of various actor groups in shaping the NAP for agriculture in their countries.2. Sova et al. 1932) was completed by National Adaptation Plan workshop participants at COP 19 in Warsaw and is used to further explore these proposed sources of preference shaping. 2011). decision-making around climate change differs from ‘traditional’ decision-making in that the time horizons for actions are longer. Vermeulen et al. As stated with a high degree of certainty and consensus in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. Dominant narratives and discourses Climate change adaptation in agriculture is dominated by discourses of uncertainty (Adger and Vincent. producing a reliance on ‘robust decision support’ tools like global climate models (GCM). empirical vulnerability assessments. responsible agents. In the absence of NAP development. 2014). and perhaps unavoidable. ‘undecided’. 2006. (2007) argue that given long term planning requirements and uncertainty. they are explored empirically using survey data from select policy makers at COP 19 in Warsaw in section 7 and 8. especially in the agricultural sector. This neoliberal rationality favoring hard. representatives from various ministries of agriculture and environment. That is to say. and multi-level systemic deficiencies in the adaptation regime—each indicative of third dimension power as introduced in section 6. Table 2 summarizes the means. Yet. 2006). respondents were invited to respond more generally with respect to ‘‘agricultural adaptation plans’’ in their respective countries.3. 2014. The sources of preference shaping explored here (dominant narratives. ‘agree’. Validating sources of third dimension ‘preference shaping’ A questionnaire containing 24 Likert-type questions (Likert. Fieldman. The nation state as the principle unit of UNFCCC negotiation and existing development deficits do not constitute a conscious exclusion of smallholders. characteristics of complex multi-level systems. 2009. unquestioned logics are established through a sustained preference for certain technologies of government over others. Kenya. techno-fix interventions or neoliberal rationalities. 2008. Colombia. Most non-Annex I. 2014. Anto´n et al. definition. the prevalence of a-political. Kissinger et al.. The printed questionnaire consisted of two sections. techno-fix interventions legitimizes some adaption responses over others often limiting the diversity of adaptation pathways available to smallholders (Thornton and Manasfi. and UNFCCC focal points. The prevailing discourse of ‘uncertainty’ privileges expert intervention and technical knowledge over that of local and traditional knowledge within adaptation regimes (Huq and Reid. 2010. The respondents were chosen for their intimate knowledge of agricultural NAPs in their country. held on November 13-14th. It is. IPCC. each highlight exercises of power that lie beyond the explanatory scope of first and second dimensions.. ‘strongly agree’. then. 2013.

g. ‘National experts’. nor has the data been analyzed against any respondent characteristic (e. the responses from each Likert ‘range’ have not been summed for interval analysis. multi-level and ‘polycentric’ governance through which meaning is negotiated and transformed. community leaders. ‘the perceived importance of actor groups in shaping agricultural adaptation plans’. status quo development regime Prevailing discourse of uncertainty has elevated the status of experts and technical knowledge at the expense of local traditional knowledge. while non-technical. Given the sample size (n = 14) and the diverse combination of question themes (particularly in the second ‘agreement’ section of the questionnaire). Source Definition Means Responsible Agent Trend in adaption regimes a. and make specific outcomes more plausible than others. or seemingly inevitable. expertise. categories. The multi-level and collective nature of the adaption regime (i. bias problem identification. ordinal data reflecting the subjective perceptions of adaptation ‘planning agents’. A prevailing neoliberal rationality has given preferential treatment to engineered and technical adaptation interventions. 8. The survey was completed individually. ‘international experts’ and ‘development partners’ are perceived to be the most important actors in the development of agricultural adaptation plans in the seven countries present. non-expert agents like farmers. . the private sector. How important was/is the role of the following actor groups in shaping agricultural adaptation plans in your country? Very Important (% respondents) Important Moderately Important Of Little Importance Unimportant Development Partners Farmers Political Parties Bilateral/Multilateral Donors Private Sector National Experts International Experts Traditional Authorities/Community Leaders 36% 21% 0% 14% 0% 57% 31% 38% 29% 14% 0% 36% 14% 43% 46% 8% 36% 36% 14% 43% 50% 0% 23% 23% 0% 29% 57% 7% 29% 0% 0% 15% 0% 0% 29% 0% 7% 0% 0% 15% Source: Authors. crosslevel dynamics. the adaptation paradox). development practitioners. but rather to illustrate that these proposed sources are worthy of continued investigation. donors c. respondents were asked to respond to each question and leave no response blank. Sova et al. The importance of ‘farmers’ in shaping adaptation plans. Prevailing ‘rationalities’ Preference shaping occurring through the perpetuation of taken-for-granted notions and ‘technologies’ of government that predetermine system boundaries. Dominant discourses and narratives Preference shaping occurring through an ensemble of ideas. With respect to the first proposed source of third dimension power. The questions have been grouped according to the proposed source of preference shaping to which they most closely pertain. Meanwhile. concepts. was equally split between those perceiving farmers to be ‘very Table 3 Perceived importance of actor groups in shaping agricultural adaptation plans.C. Survey results Table 3 contains the results of survey section one. epistemic communities. Responses are treated here as simply descriptive. and systems of thought through which meaning is given to social and physical phenomena and ‘truths’ established Discourses around uncertainty. The same trend holds true for international experts. Table 4 contains the results of the section two ‘agreement’ portion of the Likert-type questionnaire. and political parties are considered far less important to NAP formulation. together with existing development deficits unintentionally limit access to and proximity of smallholders to key decision making forums Source: Authors. country LDC or non-LDC status). Systemic institutional bias Preference shaping occurring through the unintentional result of collective action and extensive webs of interaction and historical precedent beyond the capacity of any individual element. / Environmental Science & Policy 54 (2015) 463–474 469 Table 2 Summary of sources of preference shaping in agricultural climate change adaptation regimes. sections. national governments. The results herein are not intended to provide conclusive evidence of sources of preference shaping. 100% of respondents suggested them to be either ‘important’ (57%) or ‘very important’ (43%) in shaping agricultural adaptation plans. When asked to assess the importance of ‘national experts’.e. and rendered adaptation decision making apolitical with the effect of limiting the diversity of adaptation pathways available to smallholders. National and international experts and development partners are nearly unanimously considered highly important. b. dominant narratives and discourses. Note: Table 3 evidences the importance attributed to ‘experts’ within the adaptation regime. ‘Rendering technical’ of adaptation decisionmaking and the antipolitics of adaptation Government technocrats. and stakeholder capacity Academics. the importance of non-technical (non-expert) actors in the regime was far less decisive. Nation state as the unit of negotiation. Table 3 effectively evidences the privileged status of experts within the adaptation regime. for example. proximity and access to decision making UNFCCC. manifesting through systems of representation. bi/multi-lateral donors. a key contributor to third dimension preference shaping power perpetuated by discourses of uncertainty and the perceived low capacity of smallholders and other ‘non-experts’.

important/important’ (36%) and those perceiving farmers to be ‘of little importance/unimportant’ (29%). Dominant narratives Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements: Strongly Agree (% respondents) Development partners and donors in my country have too much control over agricultural adaptation policy objectives District level (or equivalent) agencies currently have the capacity to plan for climate change adaptation Small Scale Farmers have the knowledge and capacity to adapt to climate change without the need for policy support International NGOs and development partners are more active than line ministries in delivering agricultural adaptation services The best way to set agendas in adaption policy is to provide technical knowledge Farming communities have strong knowledge/awareness regarding climate change and its impacts 14% Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly disagree 0% 57% 29% 0% 0% 21% 14% 64% 0% 7% 21% 14% 21% 36% 7% 29% 7% 50% 7% 29% 8% 64% 54% 7% 15% 0% 23% 0% 0% Strongly Agree (% respondents) Agree Undecided Disagree 8% 69% 15% 8% 0% 7% 57% 7% 21% 7% 7% 29% 14% 43% 7% 0% 36% 7% 43% 14% 38% 46% 15% 0% 0% 29% 50% 21% 0% 0% Strongly Agree (% respondents) Agree Undecided Disagree Strongly disagree 0% 14% 21% 50% 14% 14% 64% 7% 14% 0% 0% 50% 14% 29% 7% 14% 7% 14% 64% 21% 36% 14% 36% 29% 7% 36% 21% 0% 0% 0% b.470 C. and farmers’ perceived lack of access and capacity to participate in the adaptation planning processes. Sova et al. For example. Each of these concepts contributes to third dimension. Finally. Importantly. The ministry of finance determines what adaption projects will get funded and those that will not The cabinet determines what adaption projects will get funded and those that will not It is important that the president or prime minister’s office (or equivalent) lead climate change coordination in my country The best way to influence agendas in adaption policy in my country is to provide funding for adaption projects and programs Strongly disagree c. the second proposed source of third dimension power. 77% of respondents suggested that ‘‘most agricultural adaptation interventions in my country come from existing agricultural practices’’. or are even viewed as an impediment. a. political parties were perceived to be the least important of the non-expert actor groups. For example. the final proposed source of third dimension power. regarding systemic institutional bias. A similar trend is true for ‘traditional authorities/community leaders’. it is suggestive of the a-political nature of the adaptation planning process.e. While the survey does not capture evidence regarding trends in hard or soft adaptation. Furthermore 62% of respondents suggested that . Systemic institutional bias Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements: Small scale farmers are aware of the official development planning procedures in their villages/districts Agricultural adaption plans in my country accurately capture/incorporate the needs of farmers Decisions about agricultural climate change adaptation interventions are made exclusively at the national level Decisions (by negotiators) made at COP affect my national policy decisions Local development planning in my country is dominated by local elites Decision makers are aware of the needs of farming communities and these needs are incorporated in to policy Source: Authors. This could suggest that while farmers interests are reflected in policy. existing development rationalities) in shaping adaptation priorities. preference shaping power within the regime. This provides a space for prevailing technical rationalities to bias problem identification and influence the ‘technologies’ slated for adaptation without political interference. yet paradoxically there is disagreement as to whether farmers are important in adaptation policy development. the importance of policy precedence (i. Note: Table 4 evidences the importance attributed to the provision of technical knowledge within the NAP process. highlighting that many adaptation strategies are drawn from technical precedence and existing plans. not by political negotiation. delegates confirmed that NAP planning is an empirical. the interests of farmers are presumed to be captured in adaptation plans. that those same farmers are not perceived to be influential with regard to plan development. while 79% of respondents suggest that ‘‘agricultural adaptation plans in my country accurately capture/incorporate the needs of farmers’’ only 36% of respondents suggest that farmers are ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to the development of agricultural adaptation plans’’. Prevailing rationalities Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements: Most agricultural adaptation interventions in my country come form existing agricultural policies Agricultural adaption policy making is based on evidence. This suggests that political party leaders as President or Prime Minister are perceived as more closely aligned with the bureacratic and technocratic mechanism of the state than with the political parties to which they belong. 86% of respondents suggested them to be ‘of little importance’ or altogether ‘unimportant’ (Table 3). While 85% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘‘It is important that the president or prime minister’s officer lead climate change coordination in my country’’ when asked to assess the importance of ‘political parties’ in shaping agricultural adaptation plans in the country. technically driven process as opposed to a political negotiation (Table 4). and general agreement that farmers are unaware of official development planning procedures. In the related area of prevailing rationalities. / Environmental Science & Policy 54 (2015) 463–474 Table 4 Stated level of agreement with statements corresponding to proposed sources of preference shaping in NAP development.

1990. These third dimension manifestations of power including dominant narratives. Issues that have been ‘rendered technical’—as we have seen to be true of climate change adaptation—are simultaneously rendered non-political (Ferguson. economists and lawyers’’ (pg 111). It is unsurprising then. where national and international experts are perceived as far more important than non-technical. A-politicization elevates technical experts over political representatives within a given regime. while we outwardly acknowledge common but differentiated responsibilities with regard to GHG mitigation. 10. explored here. leading to a reduction in adaptive capacity of smallholders (Thornton and Comberti. Invisibility of local knowledge in decision-making can reinforce unequal power and produce inaction. in a regime where decision makers and adaptation options come effectively predetermined. Rydin and Pennington. 9. Without direct access to these forums. preference-shaping dimension has come to be widely accepted. to perpetuate the expert-driven style of environmental management (Few et al. Sherman and Ford. Discussion and implications The results of the literature review and survey serve to evidence the existence of a third dimension of power within the international agricultural adaptation regime—a dimension beyond that of purely behavioral phenomenon that invisibly shapes interests and preferences and lies beyond the realm of political conflict. Okereke. Uncertainty. 2004. The three sources of preference shaping explored here have very real impacts on stakeholder participation on the adaptation regime. Stakeholder participation The multi-level nature of the UNFCCC adaptation regime and the system of representation of the marginalized ensures that first dimension decision making and second dimension agenda setting are undertaken by those actors with privileged access to the negotiating forums. the limited importance attributed to political groups. McClure and Baker. Among the first frameworks to facilitate the empirical study of power. institutional paralysis and clientelism and is the subject of a wide body of critical stakeholder engagement literature in adaptation (Eakin et al. common to the existing agricultural development regime (Fieldman. 2013. 2014. Both of these outcomes. As a consequence. 2008.1. 2007). both qualified and selfproclaimed. 2010. there is an empirical bias toward hard. yet 64% ‘disagreed’ or ‘strongly disagreed’ that ‘‘farmers are aware of the official development planning procedures in their villages/districts’’. 2011. This implies that knowledgeable farmers may lack an understanding of the local planning structures that would allow for the integration of their local and knowledge or expertise. Common but non-differentiated adaptation Given the trends in stakeholder participation. Chhetri et al. 2013). in the case of climate change adaptation. we perpetuate the dominance of power-to. In adaptation. This is clearly reflected in the survey results.. farmers are left vulnerable to the forces of third dimension ‘preference shaping’. 2015). 2014). Wheeler et al. provides an opportunity for ‘experts’. among other features of the adaptation regime. In the words of Brown (2004). 2013. yet there is simultaneously serious doubt over whether farmers are ‘important’ to the NAP development process or are aware of official planning processes. Climate change adaptation is particularly vulnerable to ‘managerial containment’. it has been applied in a variety of settings and the existence of a third. 2009. Conclusion Steven Lukes’ dimensional view of power contributes to the thinking of power theorists still today. the privileged status of ‘experts’. The focus on a narrowed group of adaptation pathways may ignore or undermine alternative strategies. the resulting experts can focus more on the capacity of the poor than on the practices through which one group impoverishes another (Murray Li. 2000). ‘‘the only priests allowed in to the temple of environmental decision making are scientists. or the attempt by influential actors to direct stakeholders towards predetermined goals (Few et al. 2003). little regard is given to farmers’ mental models pertaining to new farming practices and technologies. In such a context. despite evidence that traditional knowledge determines the acceptability of adaptation options (Leonard et al. and the perceived limited capacity of the rural poor to adapt to climate change. 2013)... That is. the identification of a ‘problem’ in climate change adaptation is intimately linked to the availability of a solution as identified by decision making ‘trustees’ (Murray Li. This phenomenon is confirmed by our survey results suggesting that political parties are not perceived to be important to the NAP development process. 471 2007). Importantly. or non-expert actors in the NAP process. 9. 2001. expert trustees are biased toward neoliberal development rationalities. disadvantage smallholders within the regime. Halbrendt et al. Jennings. 2007). 2014). That is. if we ignore the impact that these third dimension preference shaping forces have on smallholders. Yet we know that decentralized planning regimes in most countries rely on local political authorities to ensure downward accountability and true participation from key stakeholders (Ribot. Deferral to expert-led decision-making inherently limits the scope of enquiry around adaptation to those issues and responses promoted by state and non-state technocratic agents (Schulz and Siriwardane. it offers the first application of the three-dimensional view of ‘power-over’ in multi-state and . adaptation responses can be considered common and non-differentiated—they are largely homogenous and uniform across diverse contexts. capacity based framings in the adaptation regimes and responsibility for adaptation outcomes remain squarely on smallholders themselves. In climate change adaptation. 2007). 2013. Biggs et al. This has important preference shaping implications. Third dimension power also affects domestic political institutions and forms of representation in to which adaptation is to be mainstreamed. Murray Li. engineered adaptation solutions and away from ecosystem and community based institutional and social interventions (IPCC.. 9. and systemic institutional bias can shed light on key trends in the international adaptation regime.2.. The application of Lukes’ framework in the context of the international agricultural adaptation regime constitutes a major theoretical advance on current power literature. 2007). Cooke and Kothari. in our survey results. Sova et al. That is to say. it can be said that the NAP development process is a system in which power is dependent upon the acquisition of knowledge and expertise resulting from discourses of uncertainty.. Specifically. that smallholders’ needs are presumed to be included in adaptation plans. These inter-related sources of preference shaping and their manifestations can collectively lead to superficial stakeholder consultation and what we refer to as the ‘common and non-differentiated’ nature of adaptation responses. engineers. dis-incentivizing the development of participatory planning processes.C. Treby and Clark. prevailing rationalities. Results demonstrate the importance attributed to ‘experts’ within the adaptation regime. and the perceived limited capacity of farmers to participate in development planning structures.. 2013.. / Environmental Science & Policy 54 (2015) 463–474 ‘‘farmers have strong knowledge with regard to climate change and its impacts’’. genuine stakeholder participation is not needed for expert decision makers to arrive at ‘appropriate’ adaptation responses.

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