Solutions to contemporary environmental challenges will require dialogue and learning among stakeholders with different perspectives. Moreover, improving the potential for social learning can be seen as a strategy for meeting the inherent complexity and uncertainty of global change.

Social learning processes have been studied in the context of co-management of resources and as a feature of international environmental governance, with increasing recognition of the links between governance levels.

This working paper compares the potential for social learning at the international level with a local perspective based on preliminary results from a case study of climate adaptation in the Stockholm region, Sweden.

It focuses on conditions that have been shown to influence social learning in other areas, with special attention to “boundary organizations”; arenas for bridging across perspectives at different scales and levels of governance; “shadow systems” for developing knowledge outside the norm; and the role of conflicting goals.

The paper concludes that there is a need for arenas for social learning about local adaptation that have enough diversity among participants to be able to address conflicting goals in addition to sharing knowledge. It also suggests that research on social learning would benefit from more attention to influences across governance levels.

The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Swedish Foundation for Environmental Research (Mistra) through the Swedish Research Programme on Climate, Impacts and Adaptation (Mistra-SWECIA) Programme.

Download the working paper (PDF: 0.9 MB)