A Global Assessment of Actors and Their Roles in Climate Change Adaptation

Jan Petzold, Tom Hawxwell, Kerstin Jantke, Eduardo Gonçalves Gresse, Charlotta Mirbach, Idowu Ajibade, Suruchi Bhadwal, Kathryn Bowen, Alexandra Paige Fischer, Elphin Tom Joe, Christine J. Kirchhoff, Katharine J. Mach, Diana Reckien, Alcade C. Segnon, Chandni Singh, Nicola Ulibarri, Donovan Campbell, Emilie Cremin, Leonie Färber, Greeshma Hegde, Jihye Jeong, Abraham Marshall Nunbogu, Himansu Kesari Pradhan, Lea S. Schröder, The Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative Team & Matthias Garschagen  | 2023


An assessment of the global progress in climate change adaptation is urgently needed. Despite a rising awareness that adaptation should involve diverse societal actors and a shared sense of responsibility, little is known about the types of actors, such as state and non-state, and their roles in different types of adaptation responses as well as in different regions. Based on a large n-structured analysis of case studies, we show that, although individuals or households are the most prominent actors implementing adaptation, they are the least involved in institutional responses, particularly in the global south. Governments are most often involved in planning and civil society in coordinating responses. Adaptation of individuals or households is documented especially in rural areas, and governments in urban areas. Overall, understanding of institutional, multi-actor and transformational adaptation is still limited. These findings contribute to debates around ‘social contracts’ for adaptation, that is, an agreement on the distribution of roles and responsibilities, and inform future adaptation governance.