Mainstreaming climate change adaptation in a federal state setting: Policy changes in the flood protection and tourism sectors in Austria?

Christoph Clar, Reinhard Steurer


While mainstreaming climate change adaptation in unitary states is mainly concerned with integrating respective concerns horizontally across sectors, federal states such as Austria or Germany add a significant vertical dimension to the challenge. Since provinces in these countries have noteworthy competencies, mainstreaming climate change adaptation in a federal state setting also requires that adaptation concerns are coordinated or integrated across na-tional, regional and local levels of government. So far, it is unclear whether powerful provinces make the mainstreaming of climate change adaptation easier or more difficult.  The pre-sent paper addresses this gap by analysing in how far two highly vulnerable yet markedly dif-ferent sectors (i.e. flood protection and tourism) embrace climate change adaptation at and across various levels of government in Austria. On the one hand, the paper shows that both sectors struggle with adaptation issues in their own ways. On the other hand it shows that the Austrian federal political system can (but does not have to) prove helpful for mainstreaming adaptation, mainly because provinces fulfil important coordination and support functions that link federal guidance and local actions. It concludes that the effects of federalism on climate change adaptation cannot be generalised but that they depend on the issue at stake.


Climate change adaptation, federalism, multi level governance, climate policy


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