13 February 2018

Call for Papers - Nordic Workshop - Climate Change Adaptation and Loss & Damage after Paris – Bridging Different Levels of Governance

The Nordic Network on Climate Change Governance (NordClimGov) welcomes abstracts for the first NordClimGov workshop on “Climate Change Adaptation and Loss & Damage after Paris – Bridging Different Levels of Governance. The workshop is funded by the Joint Committee for Nordic research councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS) and the Independent Research Fund Denmark, and is organized by the University of Copenhagen, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), University of Eastern Finland (UEF) and Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI). This call invites scholars from institutions in the Nordic region and neighbouring countries to submit papers.

Background and objectives

NordClimGov aims to establish a new Nordic research network of scholars on the governance of adaptation and mitigation to climate change, bringing together scholars from a variety of disciplines, including geography, political science, law, policy sciences and development studies.

Understanding and improving different forms of multi-actor and multi-level governance to mitigate and adapt to the impact of climate change is an urgent challenge and warrants a coordinated research approach in the Nordic region. Nordic countries play a vital role in pioneering new governance approaches to climate change mitigation and adaptation, involving governmental and non-governmental actors acting at multiple levels and across borders. Yet there is a need to better understand these governance approaches, as well as their interactions. The workshop will aid understanding by bringing together a multidisciplinary group of researchers to produce a valuable network of scholars in climate change governance, which has been notably absent in the Nordic region. It will be followed by a second workshop focused on climate change mitigation governance in 2019.

Beyond establishing a network, the workshop has three specific objectives:

(1)    to provide the basis for a joint publication outlining a Nordic research agenda for the governance of climate change adaptation;
(2)    to put together a journal special issue on the topic of loss and damage (see more below); and
(3)    to facilitate discussion of joint research proposals and other network activities.

Climate change adaptation and loss & damage after the Paris Agreement

For many years, adaptation has taken a backseat to mitigation in climate policy discussions. With the 2015 Paris Agreement, however, the adaptation agenda has been strengthened. The Agreement establishes a global goal on adaptation, which is to be followed up in the five-yearly global stocktakes. Adaptation was also explicitly defined as a multi-scale challenge, involving the global, national, regional and local levels. However, the actual and potential policy and governance implications of these new provisions are largely unknown. It further remains unclear how existing adaptation initiatives, governance modes employed at different levels of government, and knowledge-building activities fit into this new framing of adaptation.

Another key feature of the Paris Agreement was that loss and damage caused by the impacts of climate change was presented as a separate article (alongside mitigation and adaptation). This reflects the view that there are some climate change impacts that cannot be prevented or adapted to. However, the loss and damage provision was subject to intense discussions and the article in the Paris Agreement mainly provides a basis for international cooperation on the issue, as opposed to offering a basis for liability and compensation. There is a need to gain a better understanding of what loss and damage means after the Paris Agreement, and how it could be put into practice.

Workshop streams

Accordingly, the workshop will be organized along three workshop streams:

1. Role of actors and modes of governance for climate change adaptation

Whereas adaptation as a practice or process has been well researched, the governance of adaptation, in terms of steering behavior of others, and adaptation as a public policy area have been interpreted in diverse ways in scientific literature and policy practice. In this stream, we aim to develop a more shared understanding of adaptation governance, in particular with a view to the Paris Agreement provisions on adaptation. We further aim to explore the role of Nordic countries in adaptation governance.

Questions to be addressed under this stream include:

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of different scales and levels (e.g. polycentric, transnational, international, national and subnational) of governance for adaptation?
  • What international adaptation governance mechanisms affect national- and local-level adaptation governance, and vice versa, and how? Are lessons learnt from local-level adaptation relevant for other levels and should they be reported under international frameworks?
  • Should more attention be paid to transboundary climate impacts and globally cascading risks, and how is the Nordic region exposed and adapting to such impacts? Will Nordic adaptation measures affect the rest of the world? In particular, how is Nordic adaptation finance to developing countries governed, and what role should or could it play in the wider adaptation finance landscape?
  • What roles do different actors (e.g. public authorities, civil society, private sector) play in adaptation governance? Are non-state actors engaging in adaptation governance, and at what levels of governance?
  • What are the different modes of governance currently used in adaptation governance (e.g. hierarchical, network and market-based governance), and why? What are likely future trajectories given projected adaptation needs?

2. Multi-sectoral governance of adaptation

As the impacts of climate change are not limited to any particular sector of the economy, adaptation governance inevitably involves multiple sectors. This leads to challenges and opportunities, both at the national and international levels.

Questions to be addressed under this stream include:

  • How is, or should, climate change adaptation be mainstreamed into different policy areas, at different levels of governance?
  • In what areas is governance of adaptation effective and where is it less effective? Are there general governance challenges and opportunities across these areas, or are they unique?
  • How has adaptation governance been taken up in other policy sectors, including for example urban planning; infrastructure; trade and investment; biodiversity; water; food security; public health; human rights; and security?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities of governing adaptation through multiple institutions? How can coordination be ensured?

3. Loss and damage versus adaptation: same same, but different?

Article 8 of the Paris Agreement on loss and damage is still surrounded by much uncertainty. It is legally binding, but does not provide a basis for liability or compensation. Instead, it establishes an obligation upon parties to assist the most vulnerable countries in coping with the ‘residual impacts’ of climate change.

Questions to be addressed under this stream include:

  • What does the legal obligation entail – and how can it be enforced?
  • What is the difference between the Paris Agreement’s Article 8 on loss and damage and its Article 7 on adaptation?
  • How does it relate to the existence of limits to adaptation, and how might such limits be governed?
  • Is loss and damage best addressed within the context of the UNFCCC?
  • What would finance for loss and damage be used for? Which impacts should be covered?

Workshop logistics and financial support

The workshop starts on Sunday 13 May in the afternoon and concludes on Tuesday 15 May, after lunch. The venue will be the historic Dragsholm Castle.

The funding for the workshop is aimed primarily at scholars based at Nordic universities and research institutes. Early-career scholars are particularly encouraged to participate.

Funding is provided to cover the costs of accommodation and meals at Dragsholm Castle for all participants. A chartered bus will bring participants from Copenhagen city centre to Dragsholm Castle on Sunday 13 May and back on Tuesday 15 May. In some cases, travel support to Copenhagen may be offered. Please state in your submission if you wish to apply for such support as well as where you would be travelling from, and estimated travel costs. No per diem is offered.

Abstract and paper submission

  • Paper proposals should include:
    • The name, current position and affiliation of the paper presenter.
    • A max. 300-word abstract.
    • A max. 2-page CV.
    • An indication of which stream(s) your abstract addresses.
  • The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 1 March 2018.
    • Selected participants will be notified by 15 March 2018.
    • If your abstract is accepted, there are two possibilities:
      • If you are interested in contributing a full paper to the special issue on ‘loss & damage’, please submit a full paper (max. 8,000 words) by 1 May.
      • If you are not interested in contributing to the special issue but to a joint paper and potential research proposals, please submit a think piece of 3-4 pages by 1 May.

Abstracts should be submitted to Jonathan Ulrich at jonathan.ulrich@jur.ku.dk. For practical questions, please contact Maria Lotz at maria.lotz@jur.ku.dk.

Organizing committee:

  • Prof. Morten Broberg (University of Copenhagen)
  • Dr. Åsa Persson (SEI)
  • Prof. Harro van Asselt (UEF/SEI)
  • Dr. Tor Håkon J. Inderberg (FNI)