Institutional dynamics and climate change adaptation in South Africa

  • Ingrid Christine Koch
  • Coleen Vogel
  • Zarina Patel
Original Paper


Climate change is a multi-dimensional issue and in terms of adaptation numerous state and non-state actors are involved from global to national and local scales. The aim of this paper is first to analyse specific institutional networks involved in climate change predominantly at the national level in South Africa and second to determine how different stakeholders perceive their role vis-a-vis climate change adaptation. Within the South African context there is a gap in understanding and evaluating how institutional networks operate and thus the findings of this work may help inform and strengthen such relationships in the future. Results showed that few institutions fully understand the implications of adaptation and their roles and responsibilities have not yet been properly defined. Constraints relating to capacity, lack of awareness and poor information flow need to be addressed. Climate change is perceived as an important issue although problems such as poverty reduction and job creation remain national priorities. Most importantly this research has demonstrated how adaptation challenges the hierarchical manner in which government works and a more collaborative approach to climate change adaptation is needed. Adaptation needs to be mainstreamed and institutional networks need to be strengthened in order for adaptation mechanisms to be effectively implemented.


Adaptation Climate change Institutional networks Perceptions of adaptation 



Special thanks to all interviewees for their time and comments. Any omissions or errors remain those of the author.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ingrid Christine Koch
    • 1
  • Coleen Vogel
    • 2
  • Zarina Patel
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental StudiesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.University of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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