Germany under climate change: Adaptation capacity and paths to a climate resilient society 2050

Background and Goals

Climate change is altering the general framework of our social system. It impacts on all economic sectors and influences every aspect of society's life.

Based on an analysis of German adaptation policy, this project involves developing a concept and an empirical description of adaptation capacity in Germany. The empirical description will use the example of "Construction and Housing" needs. In addition, concepts will be developed for a climate resilient Germany, also using the example of "Construction & Housing" needs, and back casting used to derive corresponding design paths. Concept development will be based on an analysis of social transformation processes and will utilise findings from transformation research. The objective of the project is to develop recommendations for how the German government's adaptation policy supports national adaptation capacity and its ability to prepare the way for a climate resilient society.

The objectives of the project are:

  • To investigate the effects of selected social and ecological changes on adaptation policy and capacity and evaluate the extent to which they promote the move towards a climate resilient Germany;
  • To develop and test a method of developing social and individual adaptation capacity;
  • To come up with objectives for a climate resilient society;
  • To derive proposed measures to increase the adaptation capacity of various stakeholders based on this analysis, with the primary objective of the government creating general social conditions and institutional structures that promote climate adaptation capacity and climate resilience.

Content time


Research area/region

  • Germany

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 2a: Identify and assess risks - climate effects and impact

Approach and results 

Climate change impacts on all economic sectors and influences all sections of society

Step 2b: Identify and assess risks - Vulnerability, risks and chances

Approach and results 

Recommendations will be developed for the path towards a climate resilient society. Analysis and evaluation of adaptation capacity is a central component of the project.

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

The central concern of the project is an analysis of German adaptation policy. Based on this, adaptation capacity in Germany will be described conceptually and empirically. This will involve the following steps:

  •  Performance of an academic analysis of the institutions, stakeholders and path dependencies involved in climate adaptation policy in Germany;
  •  Analysis and evaluation of the capacity for influencing the most important conditions and levers in climate adaptation policy, and climate adaptation capacity from the perspective of ongoing development of the DAS;
  •  Recommendations for ongoing development of climate adaptation policy, particularly in terms of the government's role and scope for design;
  •  Empirical specification of climate adaptation capacity;
  •  Highlighting various paths towards a climate resilient society;
  •  Analysis of design options for climate adaptation policy in Germany to achieve a climate resilient society;
  •  Proposals for development of new or modification of existing incentive systems to support institutional change towards a climate resilient society; Analysis and evaluation of individual / social practice for "bottom up climate adaptation".

The objective is to develop recommendations for how the government's adaptation policy can support adaptation capacity and prepare the way for a climate resilient society.


Funding / Financing 

German Federal Environment Agency (UBA)

Project management 

Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW)


HafenCity Universität Hamburg (HCU);
Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung GmbH (ISOE);
Climate Media Factory UG;
e-fect dialog evaluation consulting eG;


Institut für ökologische Wirtschaftsforschung GmbH (gemeinnützig)
Potsdamerstraße 105
D-10785 Berlin

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Fields of action:
 buildings  energy infrastructure  financial services industry  human health and care  industry and commerce  spatial planning, urban and settlement development  transport and transport infrastructure  water regime and water management