Stakeholder involvement in strategic adaptation planning: Transdisciplinarity and co-production at stake?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


To address increasing climatic variability and extremes, cities are gradually forced to develop climate change adaptation strategies that can ensure a continuous and transformative adaptation process. There is widespread consensus that the sustainable establishment of such strategies requires transdisciplinary approaches, that is, the involvement of internal and external stakeholders (state, civil society and market actors) to become part of the change and find innovative ways to unite their efforts and capacities. However, there is little research and hardly any empirical evidence on the process of stakeholder involvement and co-production in the development of municipal adaptation strategies. Against this background, this paper examines the factors that influence how and why different stakeholders are involved (or excluded) during the processes of developing adaptation strategies, and how this gets reflected in process outcomes. Based on applied participatory analysis of two pioneering municipalities in Germany and Sweden, the paper identifies and contrasts existing patterns to feed back into both theory and practice. Synergies, mismatches, barriers and driving forces for adaptation co-production are identified and contrasted with current adaptation discourses. The results highlight how the level of internal and external stakeholder involvement is conditional on (changes in) the broader governance context, and the associated power constellations in which stakeholders act (e.g., standing of departments, proximity to the decision-making body, changes in [or constellations of] political parties, contractual arrangements for staff, individual champions, progress in mainstreaming). On this basis, conclusions are drawn regarding how to foster sustainable and transformative adaptation through increased stakeholder involvement. The results and conclusions are crucial to advance theory on adaptation co-production, providing a basis for further analyses, research and action. They inform how existing theory, policies and/or guidelines for strategic adaptation planning need to be revisited to support change across current risk governance.


External organisations
  • Uppsala University
  • University of Manchester
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • Adaptation plan, Adaptation strategy, Co-production, Collaborative governance, Distributed risk governance, Intervention research, Participatory governance, Policy integration
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-157
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Sep 1
Publication categoryResearch