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Beyond generic adaptive capacity: exploring the adaptation space of the water supply and wastewater sector of the Stockholm region, Sweden


  • Peter Rudberg


  • Oskar Wallgren
  • Åsa Swartling


This paper examines the processes by which the generic adaptive capacity of a system is translated into adaptation to climate change, what form it takes, and what factors facilitate or restrain such processes. This is done by an in-depth analysis of climate change adaptation in the Water supply and Wastewater (WW) sector of the Stockholm region. Observed adaptations are categorized in terms of building adaptive capacity and implementing adaptive decisions, and these measures are analyzed using a model of the adaptation process based on organizational learning theories. In particular, the concept of an organization’s actual adaptation space is defined and used as a means to understand the adaptation options that different WW organizations can pursue, as well as why such options might be pursued. The paper finds that most adaptation measures in the WW sector of the Stockholm region are aimed at building the adaptive capacity of the sector. It also finds that the extent to which adaptation measures can be pursued by the WW organizations is determined principally by how able the organization is to justify the additional resources required for adaptation. The analysis shows that there are two main routes to address this: use of climate knowledge to argue that adaptation is needed, and reference to rules and regulations to show that it is required. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Rudberg & Oskar Wallgren & Åsa Swartling, 2012. "Beyond generic adaptive capacity: exploring the adaptation space of the water supply and wastewater sector of the Stockholm region, Sweden," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 114(3), pages 707-721, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:114:y:2012:i:3:p:707-721
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0453-1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barry Smit & Ian Burton & Richard Klein & J. Wandel, 2000. "An Anatomy of Adaptation to Climate Change and Variability," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 223-251, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maja Rotter & Esther Hoffmann & Anna Pechan & Rebecca Stecker, 2016. "Competing priorities: how actors and institutions influence adaptation of the German railway system," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 137(3), pages 609-623, August.
    2. repec:spr:masfgc:v:22:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1007_s11027-015-9699-z is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:spr:climat:v:143:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10584-017-2016-y is not listed on IDEAS

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