Governance of Mitigation of and Adaptation to Climate Change

Climate change is one of mankind’s greatest risks both regionally and globally (IPCC 2007). While climate change mitigation remains a priority, there is also an urgent need to develop integrated strategies for adaptation since the potential impacts of climate change such as floods, droughts and heat-waves will significantly affect key socio-economic sectors and activities. There is now widespread recognition that combating climate change requires a combination of mitigation and adaptation measures. Climate change indicates the rising need for monitoring, coordination and integration across scales, sectors and levels of decision making and poses serious challenges to traditional global environmental research and governance:

  • Both research and decision making to address climate change have to cope with new dimensions of scientific complexity and uncertainties. How can science effectively be linked to support robust decision making under existing uncertainties? (Science - Policy Integration).
  • While at its core climate change remains an environmental issue, the responses required to effectively address it go far beyond traditional environmental challenges (such as ozone depletion or acid rain). Climate policy aims have to be integrated into major sectors of modern societies that cause climate change or which are affected by climate change impacts. Climate policies are thus closely linked to contested policies issues such as energy and transport and may affect the redistribution of resources not only between groups inside regions and nations, but also between the North and South. Integrating climate change into mitigation and adaptation strategies contributes to both reinforcing synergies and conflicts (Sectoral Policy Integration, Coherence and Trade offs).
  • Moreover, the interplay of different levels of decision making is absolutely critical for successful climate policy. For a long time, climate policy are seen as concerning just one governance level or a top-down control problem between different levels. Both mitigation and adaptation concern all levels from the local to the global and the interactions between levels are complex and multi-directional. While adaptation to climate change at the local level is crucial, local adaptation measures need to be supported by appropriate national and European framework conditions. European mitigation strategies, on the other hand, must be implemented in sectoral measures at the national level supported by decisions taken at the local and regional level. To strengthen the interplay of different levels, new institutional strategies are required (Multi-level governance).

When it comes to enhance the overall ability of societies to adapt to and mitigate the consequences of climate change a well-balanced and integrated approach to monitoring and decision making is needed to provide win-win solutions and avoid negative cross-sectoral feedbacks of measures or non-action in one sector.

Flood August 2002

Flood August 2002 in Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, Germany.
Unter anderem untersuchen Wissenschaftler, wie die Erfordernisse des Klimaschutzes und der Klimaanpassung wirksam in die jeweiligen Politikbereiche intergriert werden können, wie hier am Beispiel der überfluteten Mulde am Restloch Rösa.
Photo: André Künzelmann/UFZ

PEER Climate Change Initiative

On the 7th of May 2007 PEER published the joint statement "Climate change and sustainable development - an unprecedented challenge for the research community" ( In this statement the PEER centers proposed a joint initiative to analyze and explore novel approaches to mitigation and adaptation, inviting regional, national, European and global research partners to participate in this initiative. The aim is to build an open European platform that brings together expertise and exchanges information on the best approaches to mitigate and adapt to climate change (PEER Statement)

As a follow-up of this statement, PEER has launched in November 2007 two joint projects

  • PEER1a: Comparison of the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategies (Prof. Köck/ Dr. Reese)
  • PEER2: Climate Policy Integration, Coherence and Governance Governance (Prof. Görg/ Dr. Beck/ Dr. Kuhlicke)


Comparison of the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategies (PEER 1 Project)


Environmental and Planning Law


Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Köck, Dr. Moritz Reese |


General subject and aims of the project
Within project 1a PEER members have conducted a comparative analysis of national adaptation strategies in a sample of European countries. The primary objectives of this analysis are to identify policy-relevant findings and formulate recommendations for further research. Through these objectives, the study aims at providing both policy makers and research managers with enhanced insights into the variety of approaches taken by countries and knowledge gaps, and to thus facilitate the exchange of information on how to tackle adaptation across Europe and develop relevant research agendas. The focus of this project is - other than project 2 - on national level strategies, examining top-down approaches to and coordination of adaptation measures in each country.

  1. Motivating and facilitating factors for strategy development
  2. Science-policy interactions and the place of research
  3. The role of communicating adaptation
  4. Multi-level governance in shaping and delivering National Adaptation Strategies
  5. The integration of adaptation into sectoral policies
  6. The role of policy monitoring, review and enforcement

The report is structured around six key themes that were identified by the research team on the basis of an initial inventory as distinctive elements of all the National Adaptation Strategies (NASs) that have been analysed. We examine how the countries have approached each of these themes, analyse how much progress has been made and identify policy needs and research gaps that we believe will help improve understanding and enhance the implementation of adaptation policy at the national level.

Results of the project



Climate Policy Integration, Coherence and Governance (PEER 2 Project


Urban and Environmental Sociology, Economics


Prof. Dr. Christoph Goerg, Dr. Silke Beck, Dipl. Geograph Christian Kuhlicke | |


Successful responses to climate change will depend on the extent to which the issue is integrated into decision-making in other sectoral policies such as water and waste management, energy supply, transport, spatial planning, infrastructure and innovation policies. When industry, energy producers or transport companies take action as a result of climate change policies, their actions are also largely influenced by other policies. The extent to which climate change issues are considered and integrated into existing policy fields is therefore a key issue within a comprehensive climate policy, besides climate specific measures such as emission trading.

This project aims at an increased understanding of the features and conditions for better integrated and more coherent climate governance processes.

In more detail, the study's aims at

  1. to assess the degree of climate policy integration in different countries and policy sectors (energy, traffic, spatial planning, education, etc. ), in some cases at the local level;
  2. to determine key coherence problems between climate policies and other policies at different levels.
  3. To suggest measures, procedures how to enhance climate policy integration and improve policy coherence.

Empirical Results:

Since 2007 there is a political opportunity to address climate change more broadly than ever before. In order to make the most of this opportunity, however, it is absolutely essential that climate change be integrated into decision making on issues such as energy security, transport and taken into account in the responses to the economic recession.
Successful climate policy integration requires:

  • Implementation of climate policy aims into specific policy instruments;
  • full recognition of the multi-level governance nature of climate policy;
  • the ability to handle controversies and conflicts; and
  • more emphasis on policy evaluation and assessments of climate impacts.


Need for Integration and Coordination is rising (Post-Kyoto-Architecture):

  • Synergies and trade offs between mitigation and adaptation
  • Coherence between climate policies and other sectors (energy, transport, trade)
  • Plurality and diversity of approaches and instruments
  • Diversity of sectors, actors and levels of decision making (multi-level governance)

Focus on feedbacks and the coherence between approaches and instruments to

  • To minimize non-intended and dysfunctional consequences and trade offs and
  • to maximize win-win-situations and synergies

More monitoring, assessments and ex-ante and ex-post evaluations are required

  • Effective and systematic use of well-established monitoring systems, impact assessments and policy evaluation tools
  • Synthesis and "Integrated" Assessments
  • Effective integration and integration into decision making processes at different levels of decision making


Climate Integration, Coherence, and Governance in Germany