Adaptive Capacities of European City Regions in Climate Change: On the Importance of Governance Innovations for Regional Climate Policies

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Abstract

The higher the adaptive capacity of a region, the lower its socio-economic vulnerability is. Regional adaptive capacity is dependent on conditions such as economic power, technology, knowledge, institutions, infrastructure, and social equity. Not only are the impacts of climate change regionally very diverse, but the regional conditions to adapt to climate change are too. The paper discusses the implication of knowledge, institutional and infrastructure conditions of adaptation and the interdependencies of these conditions. Empirical outcomes of the case study in Northern Hesse (Germany) give some examples for the challenges of establishing regional governance innovations to handle these interdependencies. Another dominant condition of adaptive capacity is the discursive frames of regional climate change. While in international agreements and policy advice, resource-intensive economies and lifestyles are criticized as the main polluters, climate change debates at the regional level stress the options of climate change to strengthen regional economic competition. The paper suggests a perspective on multi-level governance and a perspective on policy integration for climate change adaptation to create a wide analytical view on these complex factors.