Adapt Lock-in Project Outputs

Tyndall Centre podcast features Adapt Lock-in researchers

At the end of July, Meghan Alexander and Tim Rayner appeared on the high-profile Tyndall Talks podcast to discuss the Adapt Lock-in project’s perspective on the increasingly evident ‘adaptation gap’.

The conversation covered the nature of lock-in dynamics, recent experience of overheating buildings and water scarcity in England, as well as the launch of a revised National Adaptation Programme in the summer of 2023. Readers can find it here:

Why is there an adaptation gap? – Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

Lisanne Groen interviewed for GreenDeal-NET

Adapt Lock-in project researcher Lisanne Groen was interviewed in May as part of a new podcast series focusing on aspects of the EU’s European Green Deal, being produced by the GreenDeal-NET network. In the podcast, entitled Adapt or bust? Managing the impacts of climate change, she discussed findings from the Adapt Lock-in project. You can find the recording here.

Webinar on ‘Explaining the Adaptation Gap in the UK’

On May 25th 2022, Adapt Lock-in project researchers Meghan Alexander and Tim Rayner (University of East Anglia) gave a presentation ‘Explaining the adaptation gap in the UK – the hidden story of policy lock-ins’, under the auspices of the UK Climate Resilience Programme Webinar Series 2021-2022,

Noting how the continuing and commonly observed ‘adaptation gap’ may be symptomatic of hidden path dependencies and self-reinforcing ‘lock-in’ dynamics that work to preserve current systems, the presentation sought to show how uncovering of these hidden dynamics is vital to the ‘unlocking’ of opportunities for change that can accelerate adaptation action.

Focusing on England, the presentation examined the often interacting political, institutional, behavioral and infrastructural forces that create and maintain lock-in dynamics in a number of ‘problem domains’ – including coastal adaptation, water scarcity, biodiversity, forestry, heatwave adaptation and mental health under extreme events. Based on the project’s empirical research, some key lock-in dynamics currently hindering adaptation were described. The presentation demonstrated how, with the help of causal loop diagrams, distinct and overlapping lock-in dynamics operating within and between these problem areas can be visualised. In conclusion, reflections were offered on the implications for targeting interventions and designing ‘unlocking strategies’ to help close the adaptation gap.

A response was provided by Tom Handysides, at the time the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) government official leading on climate change adaptation and resilience policy development.

The webinar was recorded and is available HERE; alternatively, slides of the presentation are available HERE.

Variations on this presentation were subsequently given to DEFRA in September, and to the Independent group of the Local Government Association in October 2022

Studio microphone for recording a podcast

Coming soon…

Re-examining policy stability in climate adaptation through a lock-in perspective

NEW PUBLICATION

By Lisanne Groen, Meghan Alexander, Julie P. King, Nicolas W. Jager & Dave Huitema

ABSTRACT

Responding to current and future climate change demands urgent, transformative adaptation, yet in many policy systems inaction continues to prevail. This paper examines apparent resistance to policy change and the persistence of business-as-usual through a ‘lock-in perspective’, which means that attention is paid to how reinforcing mechanisms drive stabilisation and resistance in policy systems. Offering a fresh synthesis of known lock-in mechanisms in the literature, this paper explores the role of those mechanisms in two empirical cases of coastal adaptation: England (U.K.) and Schleswig-Holstein (Germany). While several known lock-mechanisms are observable, some are newly identified in this adaptation context. We offer a critical reflection on the added value of the lock-in perspective for understanding policy stability. In turn, the identification of self- and mutually reinforcing mechanisms provides a much-needed foundation for targeted policy interventions and efforts to ‘unlock’ climate adaptation pathways.

Download the paper HERE

To cite this article: Lisanne Groen, Meghan Alexander, Julie P. King, Nicolas W. Jager & Dave Huitema (2022): Re-examining policy stability in climate adaptation through a lock-in perspective, Journal of European Public Policy, DOI: 10.1080/13501763.2022.2064535

Nature Conservation

An introduction to lock-ins & how these contribute to climate adaptation gaps

Our first Briefing Report on lock-ins in climate change adaptation is now available to download!

Adaptation and Change

Loss and Damage as a Third Pillar of Climate Action

On March 17th, Adapt Lock-in researcher Dr. Lisanne Groen (Open University of the Netherlands) acted as discussant at a webinar organised by the American University in Washington D.C. on ‘Loss and Damage as the Third Pillar of Climate Action’.

At the webinar, IPCC author Dr. Adelle Thomas from the University of the Bahamas & Climate Analytics shared with the online audience how loss and damage as a result of climate change has developed as a topic in the international climate change negotiations. This issue is being pushed by the Alliance Of Small Island States (AOSIS) in particular as well as developing countries as they struggle to put in place national-level policies on the topic.

Dr. Lisanne Groen brought in an academic perspective in her response to Dr. Thomas’ presentation, highlighting some lessons learnt from the Adapt Lock-in project on the Dutch approach to climate change adaptation, which focuses on infrastructure-based defence in response to sea level rise.

Kelly Crawford from the Washington D.C. Department of Energy & Environment added a policymaking perspective, highlighting some climate change policy initiatives she is currently working on.

The webinar recording is available HERE.

This was the third event from the webinar series “Ideas, Interests, Institutions, and Nation-state Climate Politics: Mitigators, Adapters, and Mitigator-Adapters.” This webinar charts the development of loss and damage policy within the UNFCCC and shows how slow progress at the international scale has resulted in limited – but critically needed – national policies focused on loss and damage, particularly in the Global South. Led by Adelle Thomas, Climate Analytics/University of The Bahamas. Discussants: Kelly Crawford, Assistant Director, Washington DC Department of Energy & Environment and Lisanne Groen, Open Universiteit, Department of Environmental Sciences and Institute for European Studies, Brussels School of Governance, Vrije Universiteit, Brussels.

Conferences

Closing the Climate Adaptation Gap and Unlocking Transformative Change

Conference presentations available below

A huge thank you to all our speakers and everyone who attended this event! All presentations are available to download below.

Keynote presentations

Tom Mitchell (EIT Climate-KIC) – “Transformational Climate Adaptation” is available on request. Please contact [email protected]

Examining the adaptation gap through the lens of lock-ins

Adapting our Coastlines

Confronting the ‘jaws of death’ in water resource management

Human Health under Extremes

Addressing the Nature Crisis

Closing the Climate Adaptation Gap and Unlocking Transformative Change

Our conference programme is now live and available to download below! In the meantime, there is still time to register to attend HERE.

We look forward to you joining us on 24 – 25 March!

Twitter: #AdaptLockin

Conference Programme

Thursday 24 March 2022

All times are in Central European Time (CET)

10am Welcome address: Uncovering the hidden story of the adaptation gap – From barriers to lock-in and beyond
Prof Bernd Siebenhüner, University of Oldenburg, Germany (Principal investigator for the Adapt Lock-in Project)
10.15am Keynote address: Governing the adaptation of long-lived assets: State or phat dependence?
Prof Klaus Eisenack (Humboldt University Berlin)
10.45am SESSION 1: Examining the adaptation gap through the lens of lock-ins
(Chair: Dr Nicolas Jager, University of Oldenburg, Germany)
 
This session will delve into the theoretical and conceptual understanding of ‘lock-ins’. Key questions will be addressed around what constitutes a lock-in dynamic, how lock-ins are created and sustained over time, and the added value of the lock-in concept for understanding the growing adaptation gap that we see. Our speakers will reflect on how lock-ins are conceptualised and understood from different disciplinary perspectives and sectors.
12pm LUNCH
1.30pmKeynote address: Unpacking causality to close adaptation gaps
Dr Robbert Biesbroek (Wageningen University, Netherlands)
2pm SESSION 2: Adapting our coastlines – barriers, lock-in dynamics and opportunities for transformative change
(Chair: Dr Meghan Alexander, University of East Anglia UK)
 
At the front line of sea level rise, coastal adaptation is vital. Yet, coastal management is notably complex, as various policy sectors, with different institutional arrangements, agendas, and sometimes competing interests, converge in the liminal zone. This presents both challenges and opportunities for adaptation. This session takes a cross-sectoral perspective and highlights the systemic barriers and lock-in dynamics that continue to hinder adaptation efforts, alongside innovative examples where these are being overcome.
3pm BREAK
3.15pm SESSION 3: Confronting the ‘jaws of death’ in water resource management
(Chair: Dr Tim Rayner, University of East Anglia, UK)
 
As demands for water continue to rise, while supply falls as increasing climate impacts take hold, some policy makers have likened the looming threat of water scarcity to the “jaws of death”. Householders, energy producers, industry, agriculture and wildlife all stand to be affected. In many cases, however, they also have the potential to contribute to responses that bring a range of benefits. Focusing on developments in water resource management, this session examines the ways in which adaptation may be facilitated and/or constrained in different governance settings.
4.15pm Closing remarks from Prof Bernd Siebenhüner (University of Oldenburg, Germany)

Friday 25 March 2022

All times are in Central European Time (CET)

10am Welcome address: Closing the Climate Adaptation Gap
Prof Dave Huitema, Open University of the Netherlands
10.15am Keynote address – Transformational Climate Adaptation
Dr Tom Mitchell, Chief Strategy Officer of EIT Climate-KIC  
10.45am SESSION 4: Human health under extremes
(Chair: Dr Lisanne Groen, Open University of the Netherlands)
 
Climate change is creating and exacerbating physical and mental health problems in both direct and indirect ways, as it places increasing burdens on health and social care services, amongst other related policy areas through which health effects are mitigated. While health is slowly rising up the political agenda, considerable hurdles remain. This session explores the constraints and opportunities for embedding health aspects into adaptation action across different sectors.
12pm LUNCH
2pm SESSION 5: Addressing the nature crisis – Adapting for nature and adapting with nature
(Chair: Dr Jean Hugé, Open University of the Netherlands)
 
Climate change, amongst a host of other land use pressures, is driving worrying declines in biodiversity and habitat loss. Adaptive action is not only essential for preserving nature, but nature-based solutions are also a fundamental strategy for adapting to the increasing threats posed by climate change. Working for and with nature will be essential. Focusing on both sides of this equation, this session aims to stimulate cross-sectoral and cross-country learning on the maladaptive practices and lock-ins contributing to the nature crisis, as well as opportunities and success stories for reversing biodiversity decline through coordinated action.
3.15pm BREAK
3.30pm SESSION 6: Closing the adaptation gap – Next steps and unlocking opportunities
(Chair: Dr John Turnpenny, University of East Anglia, UK)
 
To close the conference, this final session will bring together the key lessons across the previous sessions and observe the similarities and differences across policy areas, sectors and countries. Looking forward, the session will reflect on opportunities for closing the adaptation gap in the wake of UNFCCC COP26 and the Covid-19 pandemic. As a collective, we will identify (and vote!) on priority recommendations for ‘unlocking’ maladaptive lock-in dynamics and accelerating adaptation action.
4.30pmCLOSE

Biodiversity

Conference registration is now open!

Closing the Climate Adaptation Gap and Unlocking Transformative Change

Virtual conference 24-25th March 2022

Please register HERE

Aim & goalsTo effectively adapt and keep pace with the rising impacts of climate change we cannot maintain business-as-usual. However, a range of barriers, path dependencies and self-reinforcing ‘lock-in’ dynamics are impeding efforts to adapt and are proving difficult to change. While ‘carbon lock-ins’ have increasingly been studied in climate mitigation, this conference turns the spotlight towards the lock-ins restricting climate adaptation and seeks to understand how these play out across different policy sectors and countries. Only by understanding these can we identify strategies for ‘unlocking’ opportunities for transformative change. The conference will bridge the gap between research and practice as we collectively try to accelerate adaptation to climate change. This will be a valuable opportunity to share knowledge, experiences and best practices across countries and policy sectors, such as flood & coastal erosion risk management, biodiversity, forestry, water and health. Our speakers have been invited based on their established expertise in these areas.

Themes

THEME 1: Examining the adaptation gap through the lens of lock-ins

This session will delve into the theoretical and conceptual understanding of ‘lock-ins’. Key questions will be addressed around what constitutes a lock-in dynamic, how lock-ins are created and sustained over time, and the added value of the lock-in concept for understanding the growing adaptation gap that we see. Our speakers will reflect on how lock-ins are conceptualised and understood from different disciplinary perspectives and sectors.

THEME 2: Adapting our coastlines – barriers, lock-in dynamics and opportunities for transformative change

At the front line of sea level rise, coastal adaptation is vital. Yet, coastal management is notably complex, as various policy sectors, with different institutional arrangements, agendas, and sometimes competing interests, converge. This presents both challenges and opportunities for adaptation. This session takes a cross-sectoral perspective and highlights the systemic barriers and lock-in dynamics that continue to hinder adaptation efforts, alongside innovative examples where these are being overcome.

THEME 3: Confronting the ‘jaws of death’ in water resource management

As demands for water continue to rise, while supply falls as increasing climate impacts take hold, some policy makers have likened the looming threat of water scarcity to the “jaws of death”. Householders, energy producers, industry, agriculture and wildlife all stand to be affected. In many cases, however, they also have the potential to contribute to responses that bring a range of benefits. Focusing on developments in water resource management, this session examines the ways in which adaptation may be facilitated and/or constrained in different governance settings.

THEME 4: Human health under extremes

Climate change is creating and exacerbating physical and mental health problems in both direct and indirect ways, as it places increasing burdens on health and social care services, amongst other related policy areas through which health effects are mitigated. While health is slowly rising up the political agenda, considerable hurdles remain. This session explores the constraints and opportunities for embedding health aspects into adaptation action across different sectors.

THEME 5: Addressing the nature crisis – adapting for and with nature

Climate change, amongst a host of other land use pressures, is driving worrying declines in biodiversity and habitat loss. Adaptive action is not only essential for preserving nature, but nature-based solutions are also a fundamental strategy for adapting to the increasing threats posed by climate change. Working for and with nature will be essential. Focusing on both sides of this equation, this session aims to stimulate cross-sectoral and cross-country learning on the maladaptive practices and lock-ins contributing to the nature crisis, as well as opportunities and success stories for reversing biodiversity decline through coordinated action.

Biodiversity

THEME 6: Closing the adaptation gap – Next steps

To close the conference, this final session will bring together the key lessons across the previous sessions and observe the similarities and differences across policy areas, sectors and countries. Looking forward, the session will reflect on opportunities for closing the adaptation gap in the wake of UNFCCC COP26 and the Covid-19 pandemic. As a collective, we will identify (and vote!) on priority recommendations for ‘unlocking’ maladaptive lock-in dynamics and accelerating adaptation action.

The full agenda will be published soon! The conference will take place over 2 days and you are free to come in and out of the sessions of your choice.

Attendees – The conference will bring together academics, practitioners and policymakers across countries. Diversity is at the heart of this conference as we strive to represent different policy sectors, types of expertise and experiences across countries, to facilitate knowledge exchange and accelerate adaptation action.

Logistics – The conference is free to attend and open to all. This event is being hosted by the Adapt Lock-in project (https://adaptlockin.eu/), funded by DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), the Dutch Research Council NWO (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek) and the Economic and Social Research Council, UK.

Please direct any queries to [email protected]  

Please register HERE