Research Policy & Development


Governance of local climate adaptation: agenda-setting pathways and implementation modes in municipalities

GOAL responded to the nearly complete absence of local adaptation policies in Austria.

The main objective of GOAL was to identify feasible municipal adaptation pathways in terms of agenda-setting and implementation modes for Austrian municipalities within a multi-level governance context. This was achieved by comparing local adaptation policy making in other countries, learning from experiences in local environmental policy diffusion in Austria, and co-designing applicable municipal policy options.

Responding to the needs of Austrian policy makers in their efforts to design and implement adaptation, GOAL tackled this significant knowledge gap by answering the following research questions:

1. Why and how did climate-active municipalities in other countries implement local adaptation policies? What can Austrian municipalities learn from their experiences?

2. What are suitable and feasible agenda-setting and mainstreaming pathways for adaptation in Austrian municipalities? What lessons can be learnt from previous experiences with local policy diffusion in other environmental policy fields in Austria?

3. How can adaptation policy-making in Austrian municipalities be improved? Which conclusions can be drawn for the embedding of local adaptation policy making into supportive policy designs and multi-level governance frameworks, taking into account civic engagement and social innovations?

These questions had not been addressed in a systematic way by an Austrian research project before GOAL. Our analytical focus was on i) the agenda-setting paths, ii) the implementation modes of adaptation at the local level, and on iii) the higher-level policy and governance frameworks that local adaptation policy making interacts with. By i) agenda-setting, we referred to the entry points and policy inception modes, i.e. the drivers, barriers, processes, internal and external factors that cause municipalities to deal with adaptation and to initiate the formulation of policies, strategies or measures. By ii) implementation modes, we referred to the forms and pathways of establishing, institutionalising and mainstreaming of adaptation, i.e. why, how and to what effect adaptation policies and measures become integrated and anchored in municipal organisation, institutional arrangements, policies, decision-making processes, instruments, working routines, budgets etc. in a durable and impact-achieving way.

ZSI lead WP3 of the project, “Understanding local adaptation policy making in Austria”. It entailed the construction of an analytical framework and the empirical research design, as well as a meta-analysis of previous experiences of local environmental policy diffusion. As part of this responsibility, ZSI also conducted interviews and focus group discussions and co-drafted a policy brief.

In addition to WP3, ZSI also contributed to WP1 (monitoring and impact assessment), WP5 (dissemination and exploitation), and collaborated in all research activities conducted in WP4 (“Co-designing local adaptation pathways and governance frameworks for Austria”).


Section: Research Policy & Development


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Tags: climate change

Type: Research

Program: ACAP- KLIEN

Project Status: Finished

Start/End: 05/2016 - 04/2018

Project Duration: 24 months