Learning in multi-level governance of adaptation to climate change–a literature review

Gonzales-Iwanciw, Javier; Dewulf, Art; Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, Sylvia


The governance of adaptation to climate change is an emerging multi-level challenge, and learning is a central governance factor in such a new empirical field. We analyze, through a literature review, how learning is addressed in both the general multi-level governance literature and the governance of adaptation to climate change literature. We explore the main congruencies and divergences between these two literature strands and identify promising directions to conceptualize learning in multi-level governance of adaptation. The review summarizes the main approaches to learning in these two strands and outlines conceptualizations of learning, the methods suggested and applied to assess learning, the way learning processes and strategies are understood, and the critical factors identified and described. The review contrasts policy learning approaches frequently used in multi-level governance literature with social learning approaches that are more common in adaptation literature to explore common ground and differences in order to build a conceptual framework and provide directions for further research.