Climate change adaptation, which has previously been seen as a national and local matter, is today systematically addressed by international institutions such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Research has focused on the overarching institutional architecture of global adaptation, particularly how it relates to development, political economy, efficiency and equity. In contrast to the transnational dimension of climate mitigation, the transnationalization of adaptation governance has received scant attention.

By creating a dataset of adaptation projects, the authors examine transnational adaptation governance in terms of its scope, institutionalization and main functions. They find transnational adaptation governance to be firmly anchored within the UNFCCC, but a recent change towards adaptation governed by a transnational constituency can be identified.

When non-state actors become integral to the project of governing adaptation, a ‘fourth era’ of adaptation seems to be emerging. This new era is not replacing other forms of governing, but is emerging alongside and in a complementary fashion. In the ‘fourth era’, adaptation is increasingly governed globally and transnationally, and the attention is turned toward ‘softer’ forms of governance such as agenda-setting, information-sharing and capacity-building.

Read the article (external link, free access in Nov. 2015)