PLAN Research

PLAN Research

Who can adapt, how, and why? What determines adaptive capacity, and what constrains it? Are all adaptations feasible and socially desirable? What are the limits to adaptation?

It is easy to believe that developed countries will be able to adapt to warmer temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions. After all, wealth, technology, infrastructure, and institutions are among the elements associated with high adaptive capacity. However, both gradual changes and changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme events such as floods, storms, and heat waves may have important and unexpected consequences for society.

This PLAN project will be implemented through six integrated sub-projects:


Contexts for Climate Change Adaptation in Norway
While theoretical understandings of regional climate change impacts and potential adaptation needs have been documented, little empirical research has been carried out to determine the local and context-specific ways in which communities adapt to climate change. Similarly, little has been done to document the limitations and opportunities that exist for community adaptation in the context of other ongoing environmental and socio-economic changes.This PLAN sub-project will identify how projected changes in climate interact with changes in social and natural conditions, and how such interactions shape vulnerability and adaptation strategies, needs, opportunities and constraints at the community level in Norway: How do communities respond to the combined effects of climate change and changes in ongoing social, environmental and economic processes? What types of local indicators and information can be used to monitor, document and analyse local adaptation needs, processes, opportunities and constraints? What strengths and opportunities at the community level do or could facilitate adaptation processes, and what are the practical limits or constraints for community adaptation?
Project members: Grete Hovelsrud, Jennifer West, Halvor Dannevig
The Process of Local Adaptation: Institutional Learning, Networks and Local Knowledge

Local knowledge that is important for adaptation refers to both knowledge of local risk factors for municipal level responses to floods and other climatic extremes, and to knowledge for engaging in flexible production and income strategies adapted to local climatic conditions. Exchange of information as well as sharing work and capital expenses exemplify social relations that are critical for adaptation.The aim of this sub-project is to identify how social learning, information flows, formation of networks and generation of local knowledge take place as part of the process of adaptation. That is, how do extreme climatic events trigger learning processes and new forms of collaboration in formal institutional systems at the local level? How do informal networks and local knowledge evolve and interact with formal institutional systems in adapting to climatic variability and extreme events? And are local manifestations of economic globalization shaping learning, formation of networks and generation of local knowledge?

Project members: Siri Eriksen
 New Public Management and the Energy Sector’s Ability to Adapt to Climate Change

The Norwegian energy sector is important because of its vulnerability to climate change-induced weather effects, its saliency in the functioning of the society, and its history of NPM-reforms, including privatization of public enterprises and energy services.The aim of this subproject is to examine whether and how New Public Management (NPM) reforms, in the forms of changes in administrative organization and practices, have affected the capacity for adapting to climate change with the following research questions: How well-adapted are the energy sectors in Norway and Sweden to climate change related weather events? To what degree and in what ways have NPM-reforms and weather induced events affected the adaptive capacity of the energy sectors in Norway and Sweden? How can the adaptive capacity of the Norwegian energy sector be improved in order to cope with future climate-change related weather events?

Project members: Tor Håkon Inderberg
Adaptation and Mitigation in Urban Planning and Waterfront Development

The idea of the "compact city" has been promoted as a solution for sustainable urban development in Norway as well as in the EU, by political authorities as well as within the professional planning discourse. The justification for this normative theory about a "good city form" is that it decreases the volume of transportation due to decreasing traveling distances and increasing use of non-motorized transportation, thus mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, a compact city will lead to less consumption of energy in buildings because of more dense building types. Increasing densities within the urban area, may, however, make them more prone to flooding and extreme weather conditions due to climate change, depending on the location along the Norwegian coast. This subproject will focus on water front developments in Norway. It will be divided in two work packages with different theoretical focus on the same empirical material: governance and use of knowledge in planning. Case studies will be conducted in three or four urban areas selected on the basis of earlier experiences with extreme weather conditions as well their vulnerability to such situations under scenarios of future climate change.

Project members: Marte Winsvold, Knut Bjørn Stokke, Inger-Lise Saglie, Jan-Erling Klausen
Assessing the Limits to Adaptation and Consequences for Human Security
Understanding the limits to adaptation under future climate change has largely been based on quantification of residual impacts under different scenarios of climate change, with little consideration to adaptation as a social process. Instead of focusing on the physical conditions that limit adaptation, this sub-project looks at the social conditions that limit the effectiveness of adaptation strategies for individuals and groups, and the implications for society as a whole. A premise for this research is that the success of adaptation as a response to a changing climate is closely linked to the characteristics and outcomes that are most valued by individuals and communities. Values can be evaluated in relation to human security, which can be considered from many perspectives: income security, food security, health security, environmental security, community/identity security, and security of political freedoms. Around 90 percent of Norway's population takes part in outdoor activities. Previously, utility-based activities such as hunting, fishing and gathering food dominated this activity. Today, it is walks in the local countryside, skiing, hiking and swimming that rank as the most popular outdoor activities. Such activities will be affected — both positively and negatively — by climate change. For example, changes to the ski industry in Norway under warmer climate conditions are likely to have differential consequences and significance for individuals and communities in Norway. Potential adaptations to changing ski conditions will vary among skiers, resorts, retailers, and the travel industry, and the metrics for evaluating outcomes are likely to be very different.
Project members: Karen O'Brien, Gunhild Hoogensen, Berit Kristoffersen


An Integrated Geographic Information System for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Adaptive Capacity in Norway

A geographic information system (GIS) is an integrated collection of computer software and data used to visualize and manage information about geographic places, analyze spatial relationships, and model spatial processes; it provides a framework for gathering and organizing spatial data and related information so that it can be displayed and analyzed. The objective of this sub-project is to develop a GIS-based tool that identifies projected physical impacts of climate change and directs attention to the underlying social and economic conditions that influence vulnerability and adaptive capacity. That is, how can information about climate change impacts and vulnerability be conveyed to stakeholders in an interactive manner that facilitates planning for the future under a changing climate? And what methods can be used to integrate and represent qualitative, contextual information representing different preference criteria together with quantitative, scenario-based results?

         Project members: Karen O'Brien, Lynn Rosentrater



Published Sep. 25, 2010 9:51 AM - Last modified Oct. 26, 2016 2:58 PM