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Institutionalization of climate change mitigation and adaptation in German municipalities

Goal: Assessing and analyzing how mitigation and adaptation issues are institutionalized in (German) municipalities.

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Christian Göpfert
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Increasing impacts from climate change have prompted international calls for the development of synergetic mitiga-tion and adaptation policies and measures. While cities are seen as key actors in the implementation of related actions, there is a lack of scientific knowledge on the organizational conditions required to achieve this in practice. Our paper addresses this gap. Specifically, we assess the impact of various organizational configurations on the initiation of joint mitigation and adaptation resolutions by city councils in Germany. Our results demonstrate that the joint organizational institutionalization of mitigation and adaptation (i.e. joint departments) can be considered both as a necessary and significant prerequisite for joint implementation, unlike joint climate action plans. The developed methodology and identified conditions present an innovative way forward to assess and improve the initiation of integrated resolutions. Our work contributes to organizational and climate policy integration theories, and can help cities worldwide to optimize their organizational configurations and enhance joint mitigation and adaptation actions.
Christian Göpfert
added 2 research items
Cities are key actors in reducing both the causes of climate change (mitigation) and its impact (adaptation), and many have developed separate mitigation and adaptation strategies and measures. However, in order to maximize outcomes, both scholars and practitioners are increasingly calling for more integrated and synergetic approaches. Unfortunately, related research remains scarce and fragmented, and there is a lack of systematic investigation into the necessary institutional conditions and processes. Against this background, this paper develops a framework to assess and support the joint institutionalization of climate adaptation and mitigation—here called adaptigation—in city administrations. This pioneering framework draws upon four key features of bureaucracies: organizational structure, visions and goals, actors, and technology and tools. Illustrated by pilot applications to the cities of Würzburg (Germany) and Mwanza (Tanzania), the framework provides a robust basis for future research, policy recommendations, and the development of context-specific guidelines for national and local decision-makers and officials. It highlights the importance of (i) clearly defined procedures for the implementation of adaptigation into urban planning processes (e.g., with the active involvement of stakeholders in the form of working groups or roundtable discussions), (ii) locally relevant goals and visions, established in collaboration with stakeholders, and (iii) the creation of mitigation and adaptation structures that are supported by the appropriate level of human resources, both within and outside city administrations. In this context, global, supranational, and national institutions play an important role in supporting institutionalization by providing targeted funding and promoting adaptigation, which requires the development of integrated goals, visions, and legislation.
Municipal advisory committees are becoming increasingly influential in guiding decision-making processes that address climatic issues. According to the Adaptigation Institutionalization Framework (included in the recent IPCC report), the implementation of such participatory structures is vital for the effective, joint institutionalization of climate change mitigation and adaptation. However, there is a lack of empirical evidence to support this claim. Against this background, this paper tests the Adaptigation Framework using the example of municipal advisory committees in Germany. Based on a review of 107 cities, and social network analyses of 20 cities, we develop a typology of advisory committees, examine their stakeholder constellations, and assess how they influence municipalities’ capacity to institutionalize joint mitigation and adaptation goals in sector policy and planning. Our results and the developed social network analysis approach can be used by cities worldwide to systematically analyze and enhance participation structures to address climate change more effectively. We conclude with some recommendations for future research and policy.
Christian Göpfert
added a project goal
Assessing and analyzing how mitigation and adaptation issues are institutionalized in (German) municipalities.