Adaptive Governance in Portugal: Breaking New Ground in Stakeholder Engagement

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:30
Oral Presentation
Luisa SCHMIDT, Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon, Portugal
Carla GOMES, Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon, Portugal
Adriana ALVES, Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon, Portugal
Joao MOURATO, Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon, Portugal
The challenge of climate adaptation has brought to the fore governance hurdles that have long plagued public institutions and policies. Lack of cross-sectoral communication, ineffective implementation, and weak engagement of citizens are some of the most critical, which have been recurrently highlighted in policy reports. This paper discusses the results of two projects that contributed to launch a climate-induced institutional change in Portugal, over the last seven years.

From 2010 to 2014, “Change” initiated a process of adaptive governance in three coastal areas vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This project engaged public officers across the national, regional and local scales, in a combined effort to envision future scenarios (2025, 2050, and 2100) and develop adaptation strategies. “Change” involved a series of focus groups discussions and workshops where regional and municipal officers interacted with the coastal communities at large, including local businesses, non-governmental organisations and fishermen.

In 2015-2016, the project ClimAdaPT.Local pioneered the creation of Municipal Adaptation Strategies in Portugal, in close collaboration with 26 municipalities across the country. The project aimed to increase the capacity of these municipalities to incorporate adaptation measures into their planning instruments. Multiple methodologies were developed, including an innovative strategy for the engagement of local stakeholders.

Both research projects involved an interdisciplinary team from the University of Lisbon, combining the approach of natural and social sciences. This paper will discuss how “Change” and ClimAdaPT.Local have broken new ground in stakeholder engagement, contributing for a shift in how institutions cooperate and manage the territory.