Place-Based Adaptation through Network Governance

Cha, YoungHwa and Donovan, Kate and Shackley, Simon and van der Horst, Dan (2024) Place-Based Adaptation through Network Governance. Sustainability, 16 (5). 2155. ISSN 2071-1050 (

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Following the inception of Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) within the UNFCCC in 1992, national CCA plans began to emerge around 2008. However, identifying successful cases of adaptation remains challenging. This is because CCA policies often stop at planning, with selective reporting of relevant projects. Recognizing that planning is not the same as actual delivery, substantial gaps persist in connecting these plans to concrete actions, hindering successful adaptation. This paper explores this implementation deficit through the examination of three different governance modes (hierarchies, markets, and networks). Drawing on a policy review (desk study), a qualitative online survey, and semi-structured interviews with professionals engaged in local CCA policies, we identified enablers of effective adaptation policy progress by comparing the Edinburgh and Glasgow city regions. Despite their close spatial and relational proximity, these two city regions have distinct administrative geographies, political leadership, and adaptation-related networks, which identify unique local contexts sufficient to drive different CCA progress. We noted more CCA progress when specific resources included coordinators (dedicated staff) and fiscal supplements, along with regional networks connecting local communities and strengthening partnerships while sharing common values such as reputational opportunities in the Glasgow city region. These findings shed light on effective adaptation governance modes that require not only a deep understanding of place-based contexts but also the presence or nurturing of broader and reinforced networks.