Multidimensional Governance of Climate Change Adaptation in Policy Making and Practice

Table of Contents

Logo des Projektes GoApply besteht aus der Flagge der Europäischen Union sowie dem Text: Interreg Alpine Space GoApply, European Regional Development Fund
Projekt-Logo GoApply
Source: UBA Wien

Project duration:

November 2016 – April 2019


Background and overall objectives:

The Alpine Space is severely affected by climate change. Adaptation to already unavoidable climatic changes is needed to prevent unmanageable impacts and to safeguard climate-resilient and balanced territorial development. National climate adaptation strategies are in place in some Alpine countries, but implementation is inhibited by multiple obstacles in steering adaptation policies across sectors, levels and actors. Regional adaptation plans are just emerging, adaptation has hardly entered local agendas, and policy mainstreaming is limited on all levels. Governance has a key role in the transition from adaptation strategies to implementation in practice, but capacities for multilevel and cross-sector governance of adaptation processes are lacking in all countries. Adequate governance designs, models and formats, incl. effective cooperation pathways and coordination arrangements, are mostly still missing or not operational.

Based on transnational learning, the GoApply project has been strengthening the capacities for multilevel, cross-sector and macro-regional governance of climate adaptation by supporting public and non-public actors in improving and re-defining their approaches, shaping new networks, participation formats, cooperation and coordination arrangements, and adopting governance innovations to implement adaptation policies more efficiently across different territorial levels, policy fields, actor groups & countries.


Objectives of the project:

GoApply succeeded in improving the understanding of adaptation governance systems & critical enhancement needs in Alpine countries, in strengthening governance capacities of public, non-public & local actors across all levels, and in increasing efficiency of adaptation policy making.

Besides, the project contributed to support effective horizontal integration of climate change adaptation into sector policies, to identify and promote feasible mainstreaming pathways, and to improve coherent and coordinated action across sectors from transnational to sub-national levels.

Furthermore, GoApply sustained, deepened and valorized transnational cooperation, knowledge transfer and learning, and supported macro-regional governance approaches in the field of adaptation to climate change in the context of EUSALP.


Our approach:

The project built on an existing network of the national authorities responsible for climate adaptation policy-making in 7 Alpine countries, ensuring direct application of the outcomes. Aided by multi-level governance mapping, policy makers jointly explored innovative solutions for common critical challenges of adaptation governance. Transnational collaboration has been essential to learning from the diversity of governance approaches taken in different countries and to aligning national adaptation goals with macro-regional strategies. Both, differences in administrative systems and shared strengths & weaknesses of governance practices have been calling for transnational cooperation. Main activities included: Mapping & comparing national adaptation governance systems; identifying good practices; developing options & innovations for enhancing vertical coordination & mainstreaming; designing & testing transferable regional & local stakeholder interaction formats; developing interfaces & engaging with EUSALP.


Activities of the German Environment Agency (UBA):

We were mostly responsible for activities strenghtening the involvement of public and non-public stakeholders in regions and municipalities and stimulating adaptation coordination structures on sub-national levels (WP3).

One of the major outputs of GoApply is the brochure: Adapting to Climate Change: Good Participation Practice in the Alpine Region. This brochure presents good examples of participation practice when adapting to climate change in the Alpine region. Above all, it is aimed at interested stakeholders from administrative and from civic organisations, particularly on a local and regional level. The examples should inspire the design and implementation of participation formats and give hints for their successful implementation. The publication is available for download in five languages: English, French, German, Italian and Slovenian.

The brochure partly based on a more comprehensive concept of success criteria for stakeholder interaction formats and their application in the context of climate change adaptation. Moreover, the concept serves as a basis for a deepened concept describing the concrete development and preparation process of stakeholder interaction formats in the German pilot region in Kempten/Allgäu.

Altogether, two stakeholder workshops were implemented in the city of Kempten/Allgäu (documentation in German only):

1st experts workshop: climate change adaptation in the city of Kempten and the Allgäu region

2nd experts workshop: land use management and climate change adaptation – sustainable strategies for the city of Kempten

In those two workshops, local politicians, administrations, associations and companies developed initial approaches to make Kempten more resilient to climate impacts. For example, a heavy rain risk map is to be drawn up. Such activities will be integrated into the city's "Climate Protection Master Plan" as a package of measures. This shows how closely climate mitigation and climate adaptation can be addressed on the local level - the challenge is to do one thing and still not leave the other. Overall, the following findings can be derived from the work with the pilot region in order to better involve local actors in strategic and implementation processes of adaptation to climate impacts: Established cooperation structures and networks can take up the often new topic of adaptation to climate change, because climate impacts have a variety of effects. Single institutions or individuals act as "caretakers" and assume a leading role, e.g. the climate mitigation management of the city of Kempten (Allgäu). Adaptation processes should be designed jointly with all relevant actors on the ground from the outset, so that learning processes are initiated and actors are motivated to base their actions on them. It is important to communicate scientific knowledge in an understandable way and to clarify the common concern about climate impacts. Various methods and formats are available for developing strategies, each of which should be geared to specific objectives or intermediate steps in the adaptation process. In Kempten (Allgäu), for example, in the first workshop climate impacts and fields of action were discussed in a very broad framework in order to identify and network as many different groups of actors as possible. The discussion focused more and more on the necessary land management in a growth region and the question of how climate impacts should be taken into account. From this, the topic was derived for a second workshop, to which previously uninvolved actors were invited. They discussed in depth initial approaches to prevention and adaptation to climate impacts, which are intended to supplement the existing "Climate Protection Master Plan". Such activities at the local level will be strengthened if the higher levels offer a framework for action with legislation, financial promotion and information.

Furthermore, we strongly contributed to activities a) improving the understanding of adaptation governance systems and promoting vertical coordination and cooperation for the implementation of adaptation policies across levels (WP1), and, b) supporting effective horizontal integration of climate change adaptation into relevant sector policies, i.e. mainstreaming (WP2).

The Country report on "Climate Adaptation Governance in Germany" (WP1) provides a deeper understanding of the adaptation landscape in Germany and explores possible linkages with current research processes and products of UBA-⁠KomPass⁠. The examination of the case studies with its focus on success factors and barriers intends to provide empirical information as a basis for generalization and lesson-drawing regarding adaptation implementation on the local and regional level beyond the German Alpine region. With regard to multi-level aspects of adaptation governance, the analysis highlights the need for better coordination of strategic priorities, of competencies, as well as resource provision through funding across the different administrative levels. It elaborates on the need of state-level support for local adaptation activities. Among other factors, the case study work underlines the role of connecting levels such as district governments ("Bezirksregierungen") as intermediary between municipal and state level.

The German Country Report about "Communal Flood Audits in Bavaria" (WP2) focuses on a specific instrument applied on the local level in Germany to support flood risk precaution activities in municipalities. Emphasis is put on describing the audit procedure, its contribution to mainstreaming on the local level, the most important success factors and barriers for implementation as well as lessons learned and recommendations for transferability.


Further results and publications:

The publications related to activities of the German Environment Agency (UBA) are available for download under "documents".

With the help of a digital visualization tool, governance structures for Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland were mapped. The graphs are suitable for looking at and analysing interdependencies between actors, policy instruments, adaptation measures and knowledge bases from a new perspective.

In addition, the project partners discussed opportunities and barriers to adaptation governance with experts from science and practice in a science practice lab in Bern in 2018.

The GoApply final conference "Shaping the Future of Climate Change Adaptation in the Alpine Countries" took place on 24th April 2019 at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna.


The financial support

This project was co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg Alpine Space programme.

Total eligible costs: 734.331 EUR
ERDF grant: 502.121 EUR

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