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Hege Westskog
Grete K. Hovelsrud
, and
Göran Sundqvist


Drawing on case studies in 12 Norwegian municipalities, this paper investigates how local context matters for developing national climate adaptation policies that are applicable at the municipal level. Moreover, it explicates which factors constitute this context and how these factors vary across the case municipalities. National climate adaptation policy in Norway can currently be characterized as top down, providing standardized requirements and advice to municipalities. However, Norwegian municipalities vary greatly with respect to physical conditions, organizational resources, and societal needs. They are autonomous to a great extent and are almost solely responsible for developing climate policy and planning within their own territories. Therefore, municipalities adapt national policies to their own context, reflecting local physiographic, organizational, and resource challenges, but these local translations are not fully recognized by national and sectoral actors. This paper underscores that the significant variation in contextual factors between municipalities is not sufficiently addressed and understood by national and sectoral governmental authorities. With the identified variation of the contextual factors across the case municipalities, an adaptive comanagement strategy within a multilevel governance system is suggested as a suitable framework to ensure a proactive approach to local adaptation, that is, mutual understanding and better cooperation between the national and local levels.

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