Mainstreaming climate adaptation: taking stock about “what works” from empirical research worldwide

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Adaptation to a changing climate is unavoidable. Mainstreaming climate adaptation objectives into existing policies, as opposed to developing dedicated adaptation policy, is widely advocated for public action. However, knowledge on what makes mainstreaming effective is scarce and fragmented. Against this background, this paper takes stock of peer-reviewed empirical analyses of climate adaptation mainstreaming, in order to assess current achievements and identify the critical factors that render mainstreaming effective. The results show that although in most cases adaptation policy outputs are identified, only in a minority of cases this translates into policy outcomes. This “implementation gap” is most strongly seen in developing countries. However, when it comes to the effectiveness of outcomes, we found no difference across countries. We conclude that more explicit definitions and unified frameworks for adaptation mainstreaming research are required to allow for future research syntheses and well-informed policy recommendations.


External organisations
  • Utrecht University
  • Wageningen University
  • Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Human Geography
  • Climate Research


  • Climate change adaptation, Climate policy integration, Mainstreaming, State-of-the-art, Systematic literature review
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1201-1210
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue number4
Early online date2017 Nov 29
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Apr
Publication categoryResearch