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A method for the deliberate and deliberative selection of policy instrument mixes for climate change adaptation

Heleen L. P. Mees, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University
Justin Dijk, IVM and Department of Spatial Economics, VU University Amsterdam
Daan van Soest, Department of Economics and Tilburg Sustainability Center, Tilburg University
Peter P. J. Driessen, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University
Marleen H. F. M. W. van Rijswick, Utrecht Center for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law, Utrecht University
Hens Runhaar, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University


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Policy instruments can help put climate adaptation plans into action. Here, we propose a method for the systematic assessment and selection of policy instruments for stimulating adaptation action. The multi-disciplinary set of six assessment criteria is derived from economics, policy, and legal studies. These criteria are specified for the purpose of climate adaptation by taking into account four challenges to the governance of climate adaptation: uncertainty, spatial diversity, controversy, and social complexity. The six criteria and four challenges are integrated into a step-wise method that enables the selection of instruments starting from a generic assessment and ending with a specific assessment of policy instrument mixes for the stimulation of a specific adaptation measure. We then apply the method to three examples of adaptation measures. The methodís merits lie in enabling deliberate choices through a holistic and comprehensive set of adaptation specific criteria, as well as deliberative choices by offering a stepwise method that structures an informed dialog on instrument selection. Although the method was created and applied by scientific experts, policy-makers can also use the method.

Key words

adaptation to climate change; local governance; method; policy instrument selection

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087