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Preparing the ground for adaptation

1.2 Setting up the process in a structured way

When preparing the ground for developing adaptation policies, a number of key aspects to set up the process in a structured way need to be addressed. These involve establishing a core team with an explicit mandate for the management of the process, liaising with all relevant administrative bodies and identifying affected stakeholders to be involved. Most of these issues are of relevance for the whole adaptation process and should be continued throughout all steps.

I. Establish a core team for adaptation

To sustain an adaptation process in the long-term, a clear mandate for the management of the adaptation process should be given to an organisation or a smaller group of people employed by the government. The precise responsibilities of the core team might be context-specific but can range from steering the process within the public authority to formulating policy drafts, from acting as contact point for adaptation to communicating adaptation internally and externally, etc. Members of the core team should have long standing experiences with weather/climate-related issues and should be qualified to cover a broad range of issues that might be relevant for the adaptation process.

The following aspects should be considered when establishing a core team for adaptation:

      • Determine the members and obtain their consent
      • Define the tasks of the core team at the first meeting
      • Agree upon the structure for collaboration (e.g. frequency of meetings, type of communication within the core team, rules of cooperation)
      • Create a schedule and set milestones
      • Identify cooperation needs with other administrative bodies and stakeholders
      • Communicate, both internal (management) and external (public, etc.) and with decision makers
      • Organise a transparent documentation of all steps taken in the process
      • Secure the needed human and financial resources over the long-term

      II. Liaise with other relevant administrative bodies

      All relevant authorities (e.g. responsible for health, civil protection, transport, energy, water, agriculture, economy, finance, education, spatial planning, forestry, etc.) need to be informed and involved in the adaptation process, receiving a clear mandate to take decisions in their fields of responsibility. This applies as well to the core team discussed above.

      Involvement of representatives from sub-national levels in policy development can contribute to agenda setting and stimulation of policy development at sub-national levels. Vice versa, adaptation policy making at national levels benefits from integration of local needs and local knowledge, thus making them more relevant for other levels.

      Their degree of involvement may vary from providing and exchanging information to building adaptive capacity or to taking decisions on adaptation within their sphere of authority.

      It is also useful to make use of existing platforms and institutional set-ups. In particular, the national platforms for disaster risk reduction, which many European countries have established, provide a multi sectoral platform that could facilitate interaction between disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation stakeholders.

      III. Identify affected stakeholders and involve them in the adaptation process

        Cooperation with relevant stakeholders especially sector representatives and participants from other governance levels, including interest groups, NGOs or those from the private sector, can be set up with different levels of involvement, e.g. access to information, consultation on specific issues of concern to participatory involvement and engagement throughout the whole adaptation process. The level of involvement can also change over the course of the adaptation process (e.g. high level when defining objectives vs. lower level when working on an evaluation scheme). But when starting the structured adaptation process, the aims of the process as well as the role of stakeholders need to be clear and communicated in order to manage expectations.

        Involvement of stakeholders has multiple added value, fulfils important governance functions and can effectively link different stages of the adaptation process, such as selection of adaptation options, setup of an action plan, and implementation. For example, developing the adaptation action plan in a participatory and inclusive approach can fulfil temporary coordination functions during the policy formulation stage. Especially if actors from other governance levels, from sectors relevant to adaptation and non-public stakeholders are involved early on, participatory action plan development can pave the way for effective permanent coordination and smooth cooperation during the implementation phase. This is fostered through several mechanisms: Stakeholder involvement increases the legitimacy of the action plan and usually enhances the quality and usability of the policy output, including through integration of non-scientific and local knowledge. Participation in the policy development process contributes strongly to building acceptance, understanding and commitment among the involved actors, increases their knowledge and capacities, and contributes to agenda-setting and uptake in sector policy fields and at other policy levels. Networks, relations and trust built during the process can greatly facilitate subsequent implementation of adaptation.

        Some key points when involving stakeholders should be taken into account:

        • Every stakeholder involvement process is different and thus, a diversified skill set (e.g. moderation, mediation, adaptation related knowledge) is needed to deal with the various possible developments in the phases of involvement;
        • Stakeholder involvement processes are resource intensive (e.g. human, financial, time) and thus, a clear process design should be available right from the start in order to calculate resources needed by stakeholders as well as the organisation team;
        • Short handouts about the process as well as minutes documenting the discussions and key results within the process should be prepared in order to guarantee the continuous information exchange and transparency;
        • Stakeholders need to be informed about the intended use of results and give their approval in case of planned publication.