Achieving flexible governance for adaptation

Published: 09 March 2021
Last edited: 17 March 2021

Adaptation to climate change is immersed in a series of uncertainties regarding future climate impacts and development trajectories. Therefore, adaptation must proceed under a flexible “learning by doing" approach, integrating flexibility into legal and policy frameworks, and into sequential and iterative decisions that generate short-term strategies in view of the long-term uncertainties. In Goascorán, the lack of regulatory and policy frameworks for the management of shared basins limits the capacity to jointly respond to climate change - and therefore to be flexible and learn. This limitation was remedied by integrating adaptation into various management instruments at the micro-watershed, municipal and national level, and in transboundary agendas between local actors. The effectiveness of these (and other new) frameworks should be evaluated in interim periods, to allow for revisions and adjustments as knowledge about climate change increases; the same is true for EbA measures in the short term. The information that underpins these iterative processes must integrate Western science with local knowledge. In this way, it is possible to be flexible and identify new adaptation options and criteria for its evaluation.


Alliance and partnership development
Co-management building
Communication, outreach and awareness building
Education, training and other capacity development activities
Legal and policy frameworks, policy advocacy
Management planning
Sustainable livelihoods
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution
Documentation and dissemination of results
Review phase

Enabling factors

  • A key aspect of governance for adaptation is the institutional and policy frameworks that back or facilitate it, and that confer it flexibility or not. In this sense, it was possible to take advantage of the window of opportunity offered by the updating of the Municipal Environmental Plans (El Salvador) and Municipal Development Plans (Honduras), the preparation of the National Adaptation Plan of Honduras, and the use of the legal figure of “Technical Tables” in El Salvador; all of which consecrate the value of governance for adaptation.

Lessons learned

  • It is important to monitor and evaluate any improvements achieved through EbA, in order to use on-the-ground evidence to inform and substantiate changes to legal, policy and management frameworks, and in this way apply a flexible approach to adaptation governance.

Do you want to share your inspirational story?

Have you been inspired by a solution or building block on PANORAMA? Then share your experiences and tell us how you have been inspired and what you did to replicate a solution! What was needed in order to adapt the solution to your context? Tell us how you enabled a successful knowledge transfer to create more positive impacts for a healthy planet!