Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 399–411 | Cite as

Mainstreaming climate adaptation into urban planning: overcoming barriers, seizing opportunities and evaluating the results in two Dutch case studies

  • Caroline J. UittenbroekEmail author
  • Leonie B. Janssen-Jansen
  • Hens A. C. Runhaar
Original Article


With cities facing climate change, climate adaptation is necessary to reduce risks such as heat stress and flooding and maintain the goals of sustainable urban development. In climate change literature, the focus has been on developing a new dedicated policy domain for climate adaptation. Yet, empirical evidence shows that in practice actors are searching for solutions that not only serve climate adaptation, but integrate the adaptation objective in existing policy domains (e.g., urban planning, water management, public health). The integration of adaptation in other policy domains, also called “mainstreaming climate adaptation,” can stimulate the effectiveness of policy making through combining objectives, increase efficient use of human and financial resources and ensure long-term sustainable investments. A better understanding of the process of mainstreaming is, however, lacking. The article introduces a conceptual model for mainstreaming climate adaptation to enhance our understanding of the concept as well as the barriers and opportunities that influence these integration processes and to explore strategies for overcoming barriers and creating opportunities. Two Dutch case studies—related to urban planning—are used to illustrate the value of the model. The cases demonstrate the dynamic process of mainstreaming and raise discussion of the appropriate criteria for evaluating mainstreaming in relation to the aims of climate adaptation. The paper concludes with an exploration of specific strategies to facilitate the mainstreaming of adaptation in existing and new policy domains.


Urban planning Climate adaptation Mainstreaming The Netherlands Policy process 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline J. Uittenbroek
    • 1
    Email author
  • Leonie B. Janssen-Jansen
    • 2
  • Hens A. C. Runhaar
    • 3
  1. 1.Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Faculty of GeosciencesUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Human Geography, Planning and International Development Studies, Faculty of Social and Behavioural SciencesUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Innovation and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of GeosciencesUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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