Implementing European climate adaptation policy. How local policymakers react to European policy

  • Thomas Hartmann Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University
  • Tejo Spit Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University
Keywords: Climate Adaptation, EU, Transnational City Networks, Netherlands, Adaptive Capacity


EU policy and projects have an increasing influence on policymaking for climate adaptation. This is especially evident in the development of new climate adaptation policies in transnational city networks. Until now, climate adaptation literature has paid little attention to the influence that these EU networks have on the adaptive capacity in cities. This paper uses two Dutch cities as an empirical base to evaluate the influence of two EU climate adaptation projects on both the experience of local public officials and the adaptive capacity in the respective cities. The main conclusion is that EU climate adaptation projects do not automatically lead to an increased adaptive capacity in the cities involved. This is due to the political opportunistic use of EU funding, which hampers the implementation of climate adaptation policies. Furthermore, these EU projects draw attention away from local network building focused on the development and implementation of climate adaptation policies. These factors have a negative cumulative impact on the performance of these transnational policy networks at the adaptive capacity level in the cities involved. Therefore, in order to strengthen the adaptive capacity in today’s European cities, a context-specific, integrative approach in urban planning is needed at all spatial levels. Hence, policy entrepreneurs should aim to create linkage between the issues in the transnational city network and the concerns in local politics and local networks.


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Author Biographies

Thomas Hartmann, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University
Assistant Professor at the Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning at Utrecht University. He researches on the relationship between land and water, with a focus on river floods and retention. Thereby, he looks from three perspectives to the topic: planning theory, law & property rights, and water governance.
Tejo Spit, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University
Full Professor in Urban and Regional Planning. He is specialized in land policy, planning methodology, infrastructure planning, and administrative aspects of spatial planning. He has been working both in the academic world (University of Nijmegen and Utrecht University) and in the more problem-oriented world of municipalities. In that way, he has developed wide knowledge of spatial planning in (local) practice.


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How to Cite
HartmannT., & SpitT. (2015). Implementing European climate adaptation policy. How local policymakers react to European policy. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 8(1), 51-68.