In 2008, when the Mistra-SWECIA programme was established, research on climate change adaptation in Sweden had just begun to receive increasing attention from researchers, policy-makers and practitioners. The aim of the social science-based research within Mistra-SWECIA was initially to improve the understanding of social factors that determine the success of adaptation, and to investigate what stakeholders can do to overcome barriers to maximizing adaptation.
This featured taking a broader perspective on climate risks, vulnerability and adaptation in the real-world context of urban planning in the Stockholm region, as well as Swedish forestry. The focus was on the respective responsibilities of various stakeholders involved in adaptation; their perceptions of risk and uncertainty; the current and potential use of climate information; as well as opportunities and motivations for stakeholders to engage in a learning process on adaptation.
Overall, the research results highlight the importance of value-determined factors, such as trust in climate science and personal objectives, in shaping opinions and behavioural intentions to respond to climate change. Furthermore, beliefs in self-efficacy were found to increase engagement of forest owners in adaptation. In contrast, social and economic factors such as income, age and gender appear to play an insignificant or ambiguous role.
The findings also indicate that common goals and shared responsibilities for adaptive forest management in response to climate change should be negotiated among stakeholders in a planning process that is external to the research process. Moreover, to foster adaptation by forest owners, climate information should be shared by actors who are in a position to communicate effectively, such as the Swedish Forest Agency and forest owner associations. At the same time, opportunities for stakeholder meetings where peers can meet and share their knowledge and experiences need to be created, for example through workshops.