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

J. Gupta*, E. Bergsma, C. J. A. M. Termeer, G. R. Biesbroek, M. Van Den Brink, P. Jong, J. E. M. Klostermann, S. Meijerink, S. Nooteboom

*Corresponding author for this work

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)883-903
Number of pages21
JournalMitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change
Issue number6
Early online date26-Jan-2015
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2016


  • Adaptation
  • Adaptive capacity
  • Climate change
  • Institutional theory
  • The Netherlands

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