Adaptation to climate change is a policy field with almost no concrete legal obligations. This gives the involved parties leeway to come up with their own solutions but also raises a number of questions. Who has to adapt to what? What is a suitable measure for adaptation? For this reason, we did research on what is needed to make governance of climate adaptation effective, legitimate and resilient.
Adaptation to climate change
Adapting to the possible impacts of climate change presents a demanding challenge within the existing governance structures and arrangements. This interdisciplinary research programme aims to integrate knowledge from the fields of public administration, economics, political science and law.
Adaptation to climate change is not only a question of how to find smart (technological solutions), but also a governance question. The governance of adaptation offers particular challenges, like the long time horizon, the uncertainties, the risks of solutions and the inevitable controversies. Governance of adaptation should be transparent and fair, effective and resilient.
Work package 5 investigated the normative principles that underlie Dutch governance of adaptation to climate change. These principles are recently under discussion, implicitly or explicitly, as we are seeking for new ways of governance and new policy instruments, while these new forms are reflecting different ideas of the public interest.
Researching several case studies (concerning flood safety, creating resilient ecosystems and fresh water supply) should offer more clarity on the questions which normative principles play a role and which shifts in normative principles are reflected.
- prof. dr. Marleen van Rijswick (werkpakket leider, Utrecht University)
- dr. Andrea Keessen (Utrecht University)
- dr. Herman Kasper Gilissen (Utrecht University)
- Wouter Ernst (LLM) (Utrecht University)
- dr. Mark Wiering (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen)
- dr. Carel Dieperink (Utrecht University)
- Marjolein van Eerd (LLM) (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen).
This research aimed to discover the normative values at the roots of the projects and measures in the field of adaptation to climate change. It was conducted in the context of the Governance consortium, financed by Knowledge for Climate. The primary focus is on legislation and policy of government actors in governance arrangements. Those arrangements are the subject of several case studies by means of which the research is conducted.
The effects of a changing climate are observable in everyday life. Not just in extreme, disaster-like events, but also on a more ‘subtle’ scale, such as the steady increase of the sea level, or meteorological changes in seasonal precipitation patterns. Being able to observe these events brings about the possibility to respond.
A government is assumed to act in the public interest. However, one can argue as to what should be considered to fall within the domain of the public interest. Similarly, if a certain subject is considered to fall within the domain, one can argue as to how the government should act. Different political theorists have come up with respective definitions of the public interest based on normative values.
A subject may be regulated to some degree or left unregulated. It might also be that a government pursues some degree of active involvement (e.g. through PPS structures or state-owned companies). Some keystones of the rule of law are the principle of legality and the notion that it constrains not only society, but also government itself. One can thereby to some extent infer from legislation what is considered to be the public interest, including the underlying normative values, such as solidarity.
A possible response to climate change is to adapt to its effects. The normative values that influence whether that response falls within the domain of the public interest, and what that implies for legislation and public measures, are the ones that the current research focuses on.
By means of several case studies different projects are researched, all of which are related to different aspects of water management. In these projects the effects of climate change are considered and a response has been taken up into, or makes up, their design. The focus in each case study is on legislation and related policy. By doing so, relations between a normative values in legislation and government action or inaction in a subsequent project can be explicated.
The aim of this research is not only to further the scientific knowledge on normative approaches in the legal framework surrounding adaptation to climate change projects, but also to assist policy makers and private actors in understanding the implications of normative values in legislation for the eventual responses to climate change.