Policy coordination for national climate change adaptation in Europe: All process, but little power

Duncan Russel*, Sergio Castellari, Alessio Capriolo, Suraje Dessai, Mikael Hildén, Anne Jensen, Eleni Karali, Kirsi Mäkinen, Helle Ørsted Nielsen, Sabine Weiland, Roos den Uyl, Jenny Tröltzsch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Climate change adaptation (CCA) is argued to require coordinated policy responses because it is a complex, long-term, knowledge intensive, cross-sectoral, and multi-level governance challenge that involves many interdependencies and actors with different perceptions, goals, and approaches. This study, therefore, examines approaches of a set of European Union (EU) member states (Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom (England) to pursue a more coordinated approach to CCA policy. It specifically addresses the co-ordination approaches that the selected countries use for the development and implementation of their national CCA policies in the immediate period following the publication of the EU's 2013 Adaptation Strategy. The analysis demonstrates that while useful coordination processes have been established in the analyzed EU member states, they have difficulty in challenging existing institutional hierarchies and decision rules. Consequently, longer-term opportunities for managing CCA conflicts and synergies among sectoral policies have to date been limited.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5393
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Special Issue: Climate Policy in Fragmented Political Environments–Transformative Governance Interactions at Multiple Levels


Funding: Funding for this research was received from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Program under grant agreement 308337 (Project BASE). The text reflects only the authors’ views, and the European Union is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

FundersFunder number
European Community’s Seventh Framework Program
Seventh Framework Programme308337
European Commission


    • Adaptation strategy
    • Climate change adaptation
    • European union
    • European union member state
    • Policy coordination
    • Policy integration


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