Does public policy support or undermine climate change adaptation? Exploring policy interplay across different scales of governance

Kate Urwin, Andrew Jordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

394 Citations (Scopus)


Policy makers have now recognised the need to integrate thinking about climate change into all areas of public policy making. However, the discussion of 'climate policy integration' has tended to focus on mitigation decisions mostly taken at international and national levels. Clearly, there is also a more locally focused adaptation dimension to climate policy integration, which has not been adequately explored by academics or policy makers. Drawing on a case study of the UK, this paper adopts both a top-down and a bottom-up perspective to explore how far different sub-elements of policies within the agriculture, nature conservation and water sectors support or undermine potential adaptive responses. The top-down approach, which assumes that policies set explicit aims and objectives that are directly translated into action on the ground, combines a content analysis of policy documents with interviews with policy makers. The bottom-up approach recognises the importance of other actors in shaping policy implementation and involves interviews with actors in organisations within the three sectors. This paper reveals that neither approach offers a complete picture of the potentially enabling or constraining effects of different policies on future adaptive planning, but together they offer new perspectives on climate policy integration. These findings inform a discussion on how to implement climate policy integration, including auditing existing policies and 'climate proofing' new ones so they support rather than hinder adaptive planning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-191
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008

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