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Multilevel risk governance and urban adaptation policy

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Abstract

Despite a flurry of activity in cities on climate change and growing interest in the research community, climate policy at city-scale remains fragmented and basic tools to facilitate good decision-making are lacking. This paper draws on an interdisciplinary literature review to establish a multilevel risk governance conceptual framework. It situates the local adaptation policy challenge and action within this to explore a range of institutional questions associated with strengthening local adaptation and related functions of local government. It highlights the value of institutional design to include analytic-deliberative practice, focusing on one possible key tool to support local decision-making—that of boundary organizations to facilitate local science-policy assessment. After exploring a number of examples of boundary organisations in place today, the authors conclude that a number of institutional models are valid. A common feature across the different approaches is the establishment of a science-policy competence through active deliberation and shared analysis engaging experts and decision-makers in an iterative exchange of information. Important features that vary include the geographic scope of operation and the origin of funding, the level and form of engagement of different actors, and the relationship with “producers” of scientific information. National and sub-national (regional) governments may play a key role to provide financial and technical assistance to support the creation of such boundary organizations with an explicit mandate to operate at local levels; in turn, in a number of instances boundary organizations have been shown to be able to facilitate local partnerships, engagement and decision-making on adaptation. While the agenda for multi-level governance of climate change is inevitably much broader than this, first steps by national governments to work with sub-national governments, urban authorities and other stakeholders to advance capacity in this area could be an important step for local adaptation policy agenda.

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Corfee-Morlot, J., Cochran, I., Hallegatte, S. et al. Multilevel risk governance and urban adaptation policy. Climatic Change 104, 169–197 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-010-9980-9

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