Whereas climate mitigation has to be conducted and coordinated on a global level, climate adaptation can primarily be dealt with on the regional and local level. Natural conditions as well as societal and economic vulnerabilities can be very different between regions. Moreover, the capacity of cities, municipalities, regions and countries to adapt to climate change depends on multiple factors (e.g. institutional, societal, economic, and cultural) (cf. Füssel 2007, Lebel et al. 2006). In this context local and regional policy making has to transform governance practices in order to enhance adaptation options and to improve the adaptive governance of cities and regions. Adaptive governance refers to the coordination and interplay of administrative units in a multilevel governance environment involving different scales of action as well as state and non-state actors.
Presenting first results of a research project, the paper addresses two questions: first, how climate adaptation is governed in multi-level spatial planning systems and second, if and how governance patters and mechanisms in spatial planning are currently being transformed in order to adapt to climate change impacts. The paper focuses on the transnational analysis and evaluation of the adaptive capacities of relevant spatial planning systems in Alpine Countries. Besides spatial planning policies on different administrative levels and spatial planning instruments for climate adaptation the analysis focuses on the national and regional political framework, on cooperation and participation activities, on knowledge requirements and institutional barriers within the Alpine countries. The results of this systematic transnational analysis of multi-level governance in the field of spatial planning are subsequently discussed against the background of current concepts of adaptive governance in multi-level environments (cf. Brunner 2005, Folke 2006).
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