A multi-level perspective on learning about climate change adaptation through international cooperation

Joanne Vinke-de Kruijf*, Claudia Pahl-Wostl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


International cooperation and learning may accelerate climate change adaptation and help countries and regions to adapt more effectively and efficiently. Recognizing the importance and opportunities for mutual learning and knowledge transfer, international and supranational organizations, such as the European Commission, have put programmes for international cooperation in place. This paper presents and tests a framework for assessing multi-level learning outcomes of such international cooperation processes and the conditions that produce these outcomes. The framework distinguishes between: (1) group learning by individual process participants; (2) organizational learning by organizations represented in the process; and (3) network and societal learning by actors external to the process. We verify the analytical potential of the framework by comparing learning by six partners in an adaptation-oriented European cooperation project. The project scores rather high on group learning with participants learning from and – to a lesser extent – also with each other. Learning by partner organizations varied and was generally less whereas learning by external actors was very limited. The case study confirms our expectation that learning outcomes are produced by combinations of partner-specific, process-specific and process-external conditions. The presented framework and insights can be used to stimulate learning in and from international cooperation processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-249
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental science & policy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate change adaptation
  • Configurational analysis
  • International cooperation
  • Knowledge utilization
  • Learning
  • Social learning

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