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The adaptive capacity of institutions in the spatial planning, water, agriculture and nature sectors in the Netherlands


  • J. Gupta

    () (University of Amsterdam
    UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education)

  • E. Bergsma

    (University of Amsterdam)

  • C. J. A. M. Termeer

    (Wageningen UR)

  • G. R. Biesbroek

    (Wageningen UR)

  • M. Brink

    (University of Groningen)

  • P. Jong

    (Delft University of Technology)

  • J. E. M. Klostermann

    (Wageningen UR)

  • S. Meijerink

    (Radboud University Nijmegen)

  • S. Nooteboom

    (Erasmus University Rotterdam)


Abstract The climate change problem calls for a continuously responding society. This raises the question: Do our institutions allow and encourage society to continuously adapt to climate change? This paper uses the Adaptive Capacity Wheel (ACW) to assess the adaptive capacity of formal and informal institutions in four sectors in the Netherlands: spatial planning, water, agriculture and nature. Formal institutions are examined through an assessment of 11 key policy documents and informal institutions are analysed through four case studies covering each sector. Based on these ACW analyses, both sector-specific and more general strengths and weaknesses of the adaptive capacity of institutions in the Netherlands are identified. The paper concludes that the most important challenge for increasing institutional adaptive capacity lies in combining decentralized, participatory approaches with more top-down methods that generate leadership (visions, goals) standards, instruments, resources and monitoring.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Gupta & E. Bergsma & C. J. A. M. Termeer & G. R. Biesbroek & M. Brink & P. Jong & J. E. M. Klostermann & S. Meijerink & S. Nooteboom, 2016. "The adaptive capacity of institutions in the spatial planning, water, agriculture and nature sectors in the Netherlands," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 21(6), pages 883-903, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:masfgc:v:21:y:2016:i:6:d:10.1007_s11027-014-9630-z
    DOI: 10.1007/s11027-014-9630-z

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mark Pelling & Chris High & John Dearing & Denis Smith, 2008. "Shadow spaces for social learning: a relational understanding of adaptive capacity to climate change within organisations," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 40(4), pages 867-884, April.
    2. Richard S.J. Tol & Gary W. Yohe, 2006. "The Weakest Link Hypothesis For Adaptive Capacity: An Empirical Test," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2006-005, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
    3. Mark Pelling & Chris High & John Dearing & Denis Smith, 2008. "Shadow Spaces for Social Learning: A Relational Understanding of Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change within Organisations," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 40(4), pages 867-884, April.
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