Methodology for effective decision making on impacts and adaptation


Until recently, climate change policy in Europe focused on reduction of greenhouse gases. After the turn of the century, decision makers at the international, national, regional and local level in Europe have increasingly recognized their own vulnerability to climate change impacts. To reduce this vulnerability in the most cost-effective way, they need scientific and technical information about climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation options. Currently, the availability of such information in Europe is fragmented and incomplete.

MEDIATION addresses this challenge through six activities

  1. analysis of the decision-making context
  2. inventory, review and further development of methods and metrics for impacts and vulnerability analysis
  3. inventory, review and further development of methods and metrics for costing of impacts and adaptation options
  4. the development of an overarching integrated methodology
  5. the development of a flexible, interactive common platform for knowledge sharing
  6. disseminating this knowledge through a dedicated outreach and training programme.

The components of the project have been connected in an iterative fashion, making use of a number of diverse case studies in different regions in Europe which combine selected regional, sectoral and cross-sectoral characteristics and policy questions. The projects aims at supporting the implementation of the EU White Paper on Climate Change Adaptation. GCF leads a work packages that integrates the findings of the project into diagnostic framework for identifying adaptation challenges and selecting approaches appropriate for addressing these.

Funded by

MEDIATION is funded by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (2007-2013).


Adaptation research as a young and transdisciplinary research field, lacks concise terminology for exchanging coherent arguments about the methods applied, the results achieved therewith as well as which methods are applicable under which conditions. The classifications of methods found in the current literature are based on abstract and ambiguous terms, such as vulnerability and adaptive capacity, and do not consider the wider array of social science and action research methods that are being applied now that adaptation has become a practical necessity. These methods are applied to yet another great diversity of situations ranging from local-scale individuals and communities adapting in their private interest to national governments adapting in public interest.

Given this diversity researchers, policy makers and practitioners are confronted with the question of which approaches are applicable in which situation. To support systematic answers to this question, we have developed a diagnostic framework that helps to identify approaches suitable from a problem-oriented perspective when confronted with a given case. Adaptation situations are classified according to private and public interest involved, individual or various types of collective action involved, and the stage of the adaptation process. The result is framework which maps, based on empirical and theoretical criteria, types of adaptation situations to appropriate research approaches, or, in those cases in which research is not applicable, to practice approaches.

The diagnostic framework is based on an innovative classification of methods for climate change vulnerability, impact and adaptation assessment, based on the goals (or research question) addressed, the variables involved and the underlying theoretical assumptions. On the top-level, the taxonomy distinguishes between research and action methods. Research methods are further sub-classed into impact analysis, behaviour analysis, institutional analysis, decision analysis and valuation methods.

Further, the emerging literature on barriers to adaptation constitutes an important and necessary step in shifting the focus of adaptation research from assessing impacts and vulnerability to detecting and describing barriers to adaptation. This literature however still falls short in i) considering the wider context of barriers given the diversity of adaptation contexts; and ii) mapping barriers to the diversity of research and governance approaches that may be applied for understanding and overcoming these. To address these issues, we have developed a framework for deepen the analysis of adaptation governance challenges arising from collective action by building on extensive scholarship in natural resource management and commons studies. We develop a classification of adaptation GCs from the perspective of a public actor, we aim to facilitate adaptation researchers in drawing on commons studies that have contributed to a more contextually sensitive elaboration of the various challenges involved in influencing collective action. 

Publications & Documents

Hinkel, J., D. Lincke, A. T. Vafeidis, M. Perrette, R. J. Nicholls, R. S. J. Tol, B. Marzeion, X. Fettweis, C. Ionescu, and A. Levermann (2014). Coastal flood damage and adaptation cost under 21st century sea-level rise. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Published ahead of print February 3, 2014. Press release

GCF project team

Contact: Sandy Bisaro