Adaptive Governance: co-creating adaptation strategies with local communities

14:00 Wednesday 29 May

SS025 • OC147

Room S9


Luísa Schmidt (Portugal) 1; Carla Gomes (Portugal) 1; João Mourato (Portugal) 1; Adriana Alves (Portugal) 1

1 - Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa

The idea of co-producing knowledge has become widespread in climate adaptation research and planning over the last few years. The idea that social actors can actively contribute to adaptation has been presented as intrinsically positive, among research funders, scientists and public institutions alike. However, its practical implementation is often challenging, and further empirical research is needed to identify which participatory methodologies are most appropriate for co-producing climate adaptation.

Over the last decade, the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon (ICS-ULisboa) has been involved in a series of interdisciplinary projects focused on climate adaptation in Portugal. These have aimed to involve a wide range of stakeholders in policy and decision-making – from the government to municipalities and the general population – while contributing to developing more permanent mechanisms of multi-level governance.

From 2010 to 2014, the Project ‘Change: Changing Climate, Changing Coasts, Changing Communities’ nurtured a process of adaptive governance in three vulnerable coastal areas, supported by a close collaboration between the social and the natural sciences (in partnership with the Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon). Between 2015 and 2016, the ICS team has participated in ClimAdaPT.Local. This project aimed at co-producing adaptation strategies across 26 municipalities in Portugal, with the direct involvement of local institutions, scientists and stakeholders, following a transdisciplinary approach. In addition, our team is currently involved in the implementation stage of one of these strategies in the Algarve region (Loulé Adapta).

The ICS team has moved on from an interdisciplinary exercise of stakeholder engagement to a hands-on process of co-production, whereby a diversity of local actors is invited to contribute practical solutions for climate change impacts, through a transformative social process. This presentation reviews and critically analyses the learnings of these projects, namely: how these contributed to increase participation levels in climate-related decision-making processes; to improve communication between different levels of governance; to raise awareness of climate risks among a diversity of stakeholders; to promote articulation between climate science and policy; and ultimately to identify and implement innovative solutions for adaptation, across diverse geographical contexts.