Adaptation Discourses and Modes of Governance in Swiss Alpine Regions

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Adaptation Discourses and Modes of Governance in Swiss Alpine Regions. Alexander Widmer & Christian Hirschi Symposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012. Introduction. Adaptation only very recently in industrialized countries Most have now developed a NAS
Adaptation Discourses and Modes of Governance in Swiss Alpine RegionsAlexander Widmer & Christian HirschiSymposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012Introduction
  • Adaptation only very recently in industrialized countries
  • Most have now developed a NAS
  • Switzerland NAS (part 1): March 2nd 2012
  • Implementation and compulsory measures are rare; mostly:
  • assessment reports
  • strategic considerations
  • initiation and report of research activities
  • Subnational adaptation activities (despite the lack of NAS)
  • E.g. six regional adaptation strategies in Switzerland, and some by larger cities
  • Symposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012The Swiss context (1/2)
  • 1989: Interdepartmental working group
  • 1994: Two reports on climate change addressing mitigation and adaptation:
  • Impacts expected on forestry, agriculture, water, natural hazards, health, migration and winter tourism
  • Impacts are mainly expected in mountain regions
  • No further measures outlined
  • 1996: OcCC (Advisory Body on Climate Change)
  • Scientific, coordinative, and consultative mandate
  • Summaries of the IPCC reports, specific reports on heavy precipitation (1998), heavy droughts (2002), extreme events (2003), heat waves (2005), impacts on socio-economic sectors (2007)
  • Symposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012The Swiss context (2/2)
  • 2009: Decision of the Swiss Federal Council (nat. government)
  • to asses climate risks and to develop a NAS
  • interdepartmental working group and sectoral working groups are established
  • 2012: On March 2nd the first part (goals, challenges, fields of activity) of the Swiss NAS was approved by the Federal Council
  • 2013: Part 2 (specific measures and action plan) is scheduled for late 2013
  • Symposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012Regional adaptation measuresRegional differences with respect to ecological, economic, and social conditions: adaptation as a policy to be implemented on the regional level.Questions of multi-level governance: interplay and role of different levels in adaptation policyDespite the absence of a NAS some adaptation activities on the regional level in SwitzerlandSymposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012Research questionsWhat climate adaptation measures have been discussed or adapted in Swiss mountain regions over the period 2001-2011?What developments put the issue of climate change on the political agenda of the relevant political bodies in the regions?What are the predominant modes of governance in those adaptation activities and how do they differ from traditional approaches to mitigate negative environmental impacts on society in those regions?Symposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012Database on adaptation activities in the Swiss alpine regions
  • Context: MOUNTLAND project
  • Focus on mountain areas
  • Three regions: Grisons, Vaud, and Valais
  • Different ecosystem services and land-use patterns but also different political-institutional settings
  • Varying sensibilities to changing climate conditions
  • Symposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012Regional (cantonal) adaptation activities
  • Every activity explicitly aiming at adjustments in natural or human systems
  • In response to actual or expected climate stimuli or their effects
  • To moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities
  • Initiated by cantonal public authorities as such as cantonal governments, public administrations, and legislative bodies (parliaments)
  • Symposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012Variables (1)
  • Policy process related variables:
  • durability (permanent, temporary)
  • policy level (strategy, program, project, measure, instrument)
  • current status in the policy process (problem definition, agenda-setting, formulation, decision-making, implementation)
  • Sectors and goals
  • addressed sector(s)
  • scope and policy goals: bear losses, share losses, modify threat, prevent effects, change use, change location, research, encourage behavioral change (IPCC 2001).
  • Symposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012Variables (2)
  • Actors:
  • politicalbody in charge (cantonal government, administration, parliament)
  • final legally binging responsibility (cantonal government, administration, parliament, citizens)
  • main target population (civil society, economy/industry, scientific community, international actors, federation, communities, cantonal government, cantonal parliament, cantonal courts, residual category)
  • Policy instruments applied
  • Instrument (information, subsidies, taxes…) (Howlettet al. 1995)
  • State involvement (voluntary, mixed, compulsory)
  •  Present a selection of our resultsSymposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012Agenda settingSymposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012Policy sectors (overall)Symposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012Policy sectors (cantons)Symposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012Adaptation activities in the three cantonsSymposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012Level of state involvementSymposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012Actors (1): Addressees of adaptation activitiesSymposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012Actors (2): Political body in chargeSymposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012Actors (3): Final responsibilitySymposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012Discussion (1)
  • Agenda setting
  • Climatechange adaptation on the national agenda only very recently
  • Mountain regions versed in adapting to changing climate conditions
  • Adaptation is in particularly challenging where behavioral change is needed and no technical solutions are at hand
  • Symposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012Discussion (2)
  • Modes of governance
  • Adaptation activities are dominated by ‘soft’, information-based activities.
  • The dominance of mixed mode of state-involvement might be misleading as it concentrates on research mandates or information provision rather than cooperative and participative activities connected to a networked mode of political steering.
  • This is also reflected in the very limited involvement of stakeholders so far.
  • Symposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012ConclusionSomeadaptation activities have been integrated in areas such as natural hazard which are traditionally dominated by the administration.The new national adaptation strategy will set an important framework also for cantonal adaptation activities and is likely to impact future ‘modes of governance’.Symposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012Thankyou for your attention!Acknowledgments:Supported by the Competence Center Environment and Sustainability of the ETH domain.Symposium “The Governance of Adaptation”, Amsterdam, 22/23 March 2012
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