This paper focuses on the governance challenge of adapting to the impacts of climate change. Adaptation requires a shift in how governments ‘do’ development: they now need to consider the impacts of climate change when making investment, planning and policy decisions. This idea of ‘mainstreaming’ adaptation to climate change within development is well established, but the governance dimension of this mainstreaming process is often side-lined in practice. In contexts where governance is already a challenge, the capacity to effectively adapt to climate change is particularly limited. Governments across the world are experimenting with different approaches to tackling climate change, supported by technical consultants, donors and civil society, but often with a piecemeal approach to addressing the governance dimensions.
This paper is based on lessons from the experience of the Action on Climate Today (ACT) programme on strengthening governance systems to deliver adaptation. The paper introduces a general analytical framework for mainstreaming adaptation to climate change within governance systems. This has been developed on the basis of a review of existing literature and analysis on the governance dimensions of tackling climate change, as well as experience from the ACT programme. It covers both the process of mainstreaming and the context, and is based on three dimensions that are relevant at multiple levels: 1) entry points for mainstreaming climate change into the planning and policy process; 2) the enabling environment or ‘system’ that supports mainstreaming; and 3) political economy drivers within the system.
The paper concludes by offering the climate change governance framework as a flexible and adaptive decision support tool for examining the opportunities for integrating climate change adaptation in governance processes, and key considerations necessary to achieve this.