Experimentalist Regional Governance for Climate Change Adaptation: A Canadian Case Study

Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


Climate change is affecting the life, livelihoods and survival of individuals and communities in many parts of the world. Moreover, the uncertainties associated with climate change impacts present an unprecedented challenge for adaptation planning. While climate change projections can be developed on the basis of global information and models, adaptation has to be informed by the knowledge of the communities where the consequences are felt. For the maritime province of New Brunswick there is growing necessity for policy-makers to incorporate adaptation considerations into daily decision-making and policies. The Regional Service Commissions (RSCs) are a new governance arrangement put in place to deliver municipal services, to facilitate regional planning and act as decision-making body on cross-boundary issues. As such, this institution may be a driving force for regional adaptation planning and implementation. This chapter aims to answer the following research questions: How can regional planning facilitate cooperation among municipalities with shared water and infrastructure governance issues? How are regional planners integrating and mobilizing local knowledge into regional adaptation planning? What models of environmental governance could inform the further development of RSCs in the context of climate change adaptation planning? In-depth interviews with RSC directors and planners provided the data, which was analyzed with a grounded theory approach. It was found that RSCs play a leadership role for adaptation planning and some have policies for infrastructural adaptation already in place. Institutional barriers to adaptation such as outdated legislation, centralized provincial power, and lack of a clear mandate were found to be common themes among RSCs. We discuss regional planning in light of experimentalist and co-productive models of environmental governance to address these barriers. While we focus on a case study of adaptation planning in New Brunswick, Canada, the insights derived from this case study and its implications for adaptation governance are not limited to this location, but speak to common adaptation planning challenges. In addition to presenting an illustrative case, this article also makes a theoretical contribution to the role of regional organizations in climate change adaptation governance, and understudied focus of climate change adaptation governance (Antonson et al. in Land Use Policy 52:297–305, 2016).


Regional governance Experimentalism Knowledge co-production Coastal communities 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physical and Environmental SciencesUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.TorontoCanada

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