How to Govern Climate Change Without Being Able to Govern: Adaptation Governance in Colombia

  • Kerstin MohrEmail author
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


The coordination of climate change adaptation is not merely a technical issue but, above all, requires effective governance. Solid governance structures provide the framework for adequate knowledge, funding, and planning security for practical measures. This is particularly challenging in Colombia, where a difficult topography and weak infrastructures result in high demands for technical solutions. Moreover, the country has experienced over five decades of rural violence leading to political, social and economic disparities as well as to an outspoken mistrust between civil society and political leaders. The hence stretched relations between authorities and citizens have negative impacts on the country’s ability to create solid governance structures and adapt successfully—independent of how advanced technical solutions may be. This twofold analysis first elaborates the current state of the art of adaptation governance, outlining the specific challenges and depicting basic elements which have to be addressed when designing an adaptation governance framework. As one of the few papers currently addressing this issue, this analysis pays special attention to the impact of power politics. Second, against the backdrop of this theoretical outline, the wicked case of Colombia is analyzed. Through a qualitative case study design using textual analysis, this chapter focuses on hindering and enabling factors under the conditions of limited state resources. In order to create a holistic understanding, it draws on an interdisciplinary perspective. The analysis concludes with a discussion of the findings. Inferences show that climate change adaptation is highly complex and that technical and societal aspects must both be considered in order to design sustainable solutions. Besides the well-known challenges, a strong research-policy linkage and power dynamics are decisive challenges for the creation of an adaptation governance framework. The case study confirms the importance of these factors.


Climate change adaptation Governance Colombia Qualitative case study Weak states Power politics 



I would like to express my appreciation to Prof. Dr. Harald Fuhr, the Potsdam Graduate School, and the reviewers and editors of this book.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Economics and Social SciencesUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany

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