The adaptive capacity of institutions in the spatial planning, water, agriculture and nature sectors in the Netherlands

  • J. Gupta
  • E. Bergsma
  • C. J. A. M. Termeer
  • G. R. Biesbroek
  • M. van den Brink
  • P. Jong
  • J. E. M. Klostermann
  • S. Meijerink
  • S. Nooteboom
Original Article


The climate change problem calls for a continuously responding society. This raises the question: Do our institutions allow and encourage society to continuously adapt to climate change? This paper uses the Adaptive Capacity Wheel (ACW) to assess the adaptive capacity of formal and informal institutions in four sectors in the Netherlands: spatial planning, water, agriculture and nature. Formal institutions are examined through an assessment of 11 key policy documents and informal institutions are analysed through four case studies covering each sector. Based on these ACW analyses, both sector-specific and more general strengths and weaknesses of the adaptive capacity of institutions in the Netherlands are identified. The paper concludes that the most important challenge for increasing institutional adaptive capacity lies in combining decentralized, participatory approaches with more top-down methods that generate leadership (visions, goals) standards, instruments, resources and monitoring.


Adaptation Adaptive capacity Climate change Institutional theory The Netherlands 

Supplementary material

11027_2014_9630_MOESM1_ESM.doc (376 kb)
ESM 1(DOC 376 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Gupta
    • 1
    • 8
  • E. Bergsma
    • 1
  • C. J. A. M. Termeer
    • 2
  • G. R. Biesbroek
    • 2
  • M. van den Brink
    • 3
  • P. Jong
    • 4
  • J. E. M. Klostermann
    • 5
  • S. Meijerink
    • 6
  • S. Nooteboom
    • 7
  1. 1.Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, Faculty of Social and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Wageningen School of Social SciencesWageningen URWageningenNetherlands
  3. 3.Faculty of Spatial SciencesUniversity of GroningenGroningenNetherlands
  4. 4.Faculty of Architecture and the Built EnvironmentDelft University of TechnologyDelftNetherlands
  5. 5.AlterraWageningen URWageningenNetherlands
  6. 6.Institute for Management ResearchRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenNetherlands
  7. 7.Faculty of Social ScienceErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamNetherlands
  8. 8.UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water EducationDelftThe Netherlands

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