Key Research Projects

Marie Curie Individual Fellowship “Institutional Innovation for Adapting to Climate Change in Water Governance within Cities (INNOVCITIES)”

INNOVCITIES will look at water governance through the lens of cities, and focus on investigating institutional innovation for adapting to climate change. The first step will be to conduct a semi-quantitative survey of approximately 30 ‘innovative’ cities across the world to look at the types of institutional innovations occurring (e.g. policy change, new organisational setups). Then an in-depth qualitative comparative research will be conducted in three innovative cities across diverse contexts to understand how and why innovation is occurring, linked to underlying mechanisms of institutional change. Potential cases are: The Netherlands, South Africa, and Brazil.



CONNECT - Coping with Fragmentation: Assessing and Reforming the Current Architecture of Global Environmental Governance

Scientists today see mounting evidence that the entire earth system now operates well outside of safe boundaries. According to a recent scientific assessment of the international Earth System Governance Project, human societies must change course and steer away from critical tipping points that might lead to rapid and irreversible change, while ensuring sustainable livelihoods for all. This requires a fundamental transformation in current patterns of consumption and production. The key question from a social science perspective is how to organize the co-evolution of societies and their surrounding environment; in other words, how to develop effective and equitable governance solutions for today’s global problems. The proposed VIDI project builds on the broad expertise of the applicant in the field of global environmental governance.

CONNECT website



Governance and institutions are increasingly becoming a central concern within the more quantitatively oriented modelling and scenarios community. In order to understand the effectiveness of institutions in steering society and the international system at large towards sustainability, a number of approaches have been developed within International Relations and global environmental governance research that can potentially be integrated into the ongoing attempts to model political developments and interventions. The quest for integration of social science research into more formalized methodologies such as modelling, computer simulation and scenario development represents one of the cutting-edge research frontiers in sustainability politics.

The research project involves a two-step methodology, which is based on the idea of institutional diagnostics. In the first step, the key features of the issue and the issue-area will be identified as clearly and sharply as possible. The second step deals with defining the nature of the institutional arrangements needed to mitigate the problem in question or to find ways to adapt to its impacts. The key challenge is to formalize the aforementioned qualitative factors through quantitative techniques, such as computer based modeling.


International cooperation efforts to mitigate climate change have increased sharply in number and scope. In the online portal, documenting cooperative initiatives, the United Nations (UN) Climate Secretariat has identified no less than 60 partnerships with connections to climate change, in addition to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This proliferation has created a patchwork of actors, rules and decision-making processes across private and public sectors that affect the governance of global climate and energy. The aim of the CLIMenGO project is to map the institutional complexity of global climate and energy governance and to evaluate its effectiveness and legitimacy. Moreover, the project aims to develop new and important research to serve as a basis for decision-makers in areas where there are large gaps in knowledge. The CLIMenGO project is funded by the Swedish Energy Agency and will be conducted in collaboration with Stockholm University, Lund University and SEI-Oxford.

CLIMenGO website

CAPFLO (Local Resilience Capacity Building For Flood Mitigation)

Capacity building has recently been incorporated in flood risk management policy as means to increase local resilience. In this project we focus on building two key capacities that are crucial to reduce flood risk and mitigate adverse consequences at local level: social capacity and civic capacity. Social capacity has been defined as the resources available at various levels (individuals, organizations, communities) that can be used to prevent, cope with, recover from and adapt to external stressors. Civic capacity should be understood as one of these resources, and refers to the ability that a community has to articulate the views of different stakeholders (governmental and non-governmental) concerning collective problems. In this context, the project aims to design two consistent tools – an Assessment Tool and a Participatory Tool – to assess and develop social and civic capacities to cope with flood risk at local level. The tools will be applied in five pilot urban case studies, located in five European river basins in France, Spain, The Netherlands, Italy and Germany, in order to identify good practices and illuminate how these capacities could be built. Participatory processes will be carried out and actions implemented in the pilot areas, and the level of social and civil capacity attained will be measured. Finally, a guideline on social and civic capacity building will be produced and made available to policy makers.


Set against scientific predictions, current international responses to climate change are widely perceived to be inadequate. There is a growing perception that many mitigation and adaptation measures are being taken outside the international regime. In this sense governance has become considerably more polycentric, with pockets of dynamism especially evident at the national and subnational levels, but also in the so-called transnational sphere. However, there is far less agreement regarding if and how these innovations can be scaled up; if and how they should be coordinated; and where the necessary leadership to achieve this might originate. To address these gaps, INOGOV:

  • identifies ways in which innovative forms of policy and governance for climate change have been stimulated and diffused across time, space and different modes and levels of governing;
  • builds a stronger evaluation capacity to assess actual and intended effects and impacts of these forms;
  • shares usable knowledge with network participants to reach a fuller appreciation of what it means to govern climate change more innovatively.

INOGOV draws together scholars and practitioners within and outside Europe who focus on particular aspects of policy and governance innovation, namely their ‘sources’; ‘diffusion’; and ‘effects’. By using the full suite of COST networking instruments to explore the inter-relationships between these topics, the project extracts greater value from previous research investments.

INOGOV website