Molenveld, Astrid, Arwin van Buuren, & Gerald-Jan Ellen (2020, June). Governance of climate adaptation, which mode? An exploration of stakeholder viewpoints on how to organize adaptation. Climatic Change. (ePub in advance of print) (doi: 10.1007/s10584-020-02683-9) (Open Access:

Abstract: There are many normative answers on the question how to realize climate adaptation, ranging from pleas for the government to play a decisive role, to calls for refraining from action and relying upon spontaneous adaptation of both government and non-governmental actors. In this article, we present a Q methodological study, aimed at investigating the governance preferences among non-governmental actors in the Netherlands and the “narratives” they use to motivate these preferences. Our empirical results underline the fact that the question “how to organize adaptation”, is a controversial one. The results resemble the various positions in the current academic debate about the governance of adaptation, and add important insights and nuances to it. Many respondents feel that the current climate adaptation policy is too non-committal. The dominant viewpoint underscores a need for more rules and norms and the possibility to sanction organizations that do not adapt. Minority viewpoints show an urge to stimulate and support self-organization of partners, as well as a need for more action. However, financial and regulatory preconditions are needed to stimulate actors in order to see to the necessary investments. Policy-makers have to invest in mixing their policy instruments. Clearly, most nongovernmental actors are in favor of the government setting a framework with rules and norms for climate adaption. However, the viewpoints show that this is not sufficient. The government should facilitate networks, joint efforts and create the financial and regulatory preconditions to remove current barriers blocking adaptation measures.

Astrid Molenveld <> is in the Department of Public Administration and Sociology, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; and the Research Group on Politics & Public Governance, University of Antwerp, Antwerpen, Belgium.