Going beyond knowledge integration: How participatory adaptation processes contribute to adaptation action

16:15 Wednesday 29 May


Room S11


Torsten Grothmann (Germany) 1

1 - University of Oldenburg


It is the implicit or explicit aim of many participatory adaptation processes to motivate adaptation action among its participants. Although psychological research has repeatedly shown that knowledge about climate risks and risk reducing measures only play a minor role in motivating climate action the belief still prevails that dissemination and co-production of knowledge on climate risks and risk reducing measures will suffice to elicit adaptation action. It is the aim of this study to identify the most important individual determinants of adaptation motivation in different actor groups. Furthermore, it is the aim to evaluate the impact of participatory workshops on changing these determinants to better understand how participatory processes can contribute to motivating adaptation action.


Nine ongoing participatory adaptation processes (mostly on urban adaptation to increased heavy precipitation events) in Germany are evaluated by questionnaires, which are filled in by participants and measure the extent of current adaptation behaviour, adaptation motivation and several psychological determinants relevant for adaptation motivation (e.g. climate risk perceptions, individual and collective adaptation efficacy beliefs, social identities, perceived responsibilities). Quantitative questionnaire results are analysed by statistical procedures, qualitative results are content analysed.


Mostly people already motivated for adaptation action attend the analysed participatory adaptation processes. Determinants of adaptation motivation are dependent on the respective actor group but again demonstrate that knowledge about climate change risks and adaptation options most often only plays a minor role for adaptation motivation. Participation seem to increase especially collective efficacy beliefs (i.e. beliefs that effective adaptation action can be realised by successful cooperation of different actors) which has a positive impact on adaptation motivation. On the other hand, beliefs that primarily governmental actors are responsible for adaptation action seem to increase as well in the analysed participatory processes. These beliefs have a negative effect on adaptation motivation among non-governmental participants and thereby counteract the motivating effect of increased collective efficacy beliefs.


Participation of mostly people already motivated for adaptation action show that other instruments, which require less time and effort than participation at workshops, are needed to reach people not yet motivated for adaptation action. The increase of collective efficacy beliefs is a promising result because many adaptation measures are effective only if different actors cooperate and coordinate their actions. Finally, the developed and tested participant questionnaires proved to be an efficient means for evaluation and monitoring of participatory methods and for improving these methods.