European Political Science

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 41–53 | Cite as

Institutions for Adaptation to Climate Change: Comparing National Adaptation Strategies in Europe

  • Catrien Termeer
  • Robbert Biesbroek
  • Margo van den Brink


In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, societies worldwide have to cope with the potential impacts of climate change. The central question of this paper is to what extent our historically grown institutions enable actors to cope with the new challenges of climate adaptation. We present six qualities of governance institutions that are crucial to allow for, and encourage adaptation, and apply them to the National Adaptation Strategies of the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Finland and Sweden. We conclude that although the governance institutions involved seem to have the basic qualities required, they face five institutional weaknesses, causing tensions on the long term: (1) lack of openness towards learning and variety; (2) strong one-sided reliance on scientific experts; (3) tension between top-down policy development and bottom-up implementation; (4) distrust in the problem-solving capacity of civil society; and (5) wickedness of reserving funding for long-term action.


institutions climate change adaptive capacity National Adaptation Strategies European Union 


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Copyright information

© European Consortium for Political Research 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catrien Termeer
    • 1
  • Robbert Biesbroek
    • 1
  • Margo van den Brink
    • 1
  1. 1.Wageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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