4.3. Seizing opportunities for cooperation

This chapter focuses on the importance of bringing actors together, joining each other’s formats, and being involved in each other’s’ activities. In contrast to section 4.1, this chapter focuses more on establishing the required background arrangements, supportive networks and beneficial framework conditions for implementation. The overarching goals are:

  • To ensure coherence by addressing both DRR and CCA in policy and practices;
  • To reduce weaknesses in networks, for example, through accountability measures or avoiding duplication of efforts; and
  • To recognise the actors, that is, to gain an overview of the relevant stakeholders and networks.

As the increase of coherence between CCA and DRR is still a crucial gap for institutional strengthening, this chapter contributes to exploring possible pathways for overcoming this.

4.3.1 Risk governance as focused collaboration

Develop strong transnational and interregional collaboration between CCA and DRR with a joint focus on current and future risks.

Markus Leitner and Daniel Buschmann (EAA)

Governance includes both formal requirements – such as legislation, administrative processes and mandatory standards – as well as informal structures, communication procedures, and the way space and resources of a particular group, entity or institution are managed and interact. This recommendation focuses on the informal aspects, and defines governance as the process of facilitating stable, sustainable and effective cooperation within and among institutions.

The term risk governance is used when stakeholders at a local, regional, national or transnational level collaborate in risk-related decision-making, i.e. the identification, assessment, management and communication of risks. Climate risks – for example, flooding, heatwaves, forest fires, coastal storm surges or degradation of ecosystems – can be addressed in terms of prevention or preparedness. However, in a globalised world these risks are increasingly systemic, meaning they transcend national borders and cross administrative boundaries. This is a challenge, but also an opportunity. Integrated risk governance at the intersection between CCA and DRR can tackle complex challenges, contributing to achieving resilience and foresight.

The CCA and DRR communities, particularly those institutions dealing with climate risks across different scales, can benefit strongly from effective collaboration through integrated risk governance. It delivers risk and resilience management, enables long-lasting cooperation within and between institutions, and supports the coordination of activities. This is particularly important for CCA and DRR, which are not organised as sectors in themselves, but must be implemented through the policies of other sectors. As a result, CCA and DRR need to cooperate with diverse sectors to implement actions. It is a specific strength of informal, cooperation-oriented governance formats that contribute to awareness-raising, agenda-setting and knowledge brokerage across public and private institutions, and from different spatial scales and sectors.

Building on a partnership approach at eye-level, climate risks become less politically charged and less conflict-riddled. Hence compromises can be found which often ‘trickle down’ into participating institutions.

Any recommendation that addresses such a wide variety of actors, whose precise composition varies with the scale of the problem, must be tentative and needs to be adapted to the respective institutional context. Our goal is to demonstrate a possible way forward rather than a fixed solution.


One option to strengthen collaboration is mainstreaming CCA and DRR and its integration into existing transnational and interregional working groups, or setting up a working group which focuses on a risk or geographic area of mutual concern, such as a mountain range or a river catchment area. Possible formats stretch from informal talks, ad-hoc interactions, information exchange, and voluntary agreements to networking and case-based meetings. The working group (or a sub-group of a broader transnational or interregional body) should focus on the interface of DRR and CCA in the context of hazard management in a changing risk landscape. This integrated focus can enhance risk management at the transnational or interregional level in that context, and lead to new forms of cross-sectoral CCA and DRR collaboration among different institutional actors.


Involve interregional, (trans-) national and sub-national institutions who are in charge of CCA, DRR, disaster risk management (focusing on climate risks), and natural hazard management in countries affected by risk or in the spatial focus of the working group. In the absence of formal governance at a transnational level, the challenge is to address national and sub-national actors with the authority to implement measures. Actors may represent national ministries and institutions, sub-national or regional governments, providers of early warning services, national and sub-national or regional coordinators, relevant agencies and the private sector. To identify relevant actors, stakeholder mapping can be a useful starting point. Most importantly, informal governance formats can strengthen the position of participating actors, making them ‘change-makers’ within their own institutions and providing them with the authority to develop integrated strategies.

4.3.2 Social Network Analysis: Stocktaking and Social Network Analysis as tools to enhance CCA & DRR interactions

Identify the actors in your CCA & DRR network, the network properties, and make use of this information to strengthen their interactions and encourage aligned resilience solutions.

Gabriela Michalek, UFZ, Eleni Karali, CMCC

Effective communication and collaboration have proved to be critical for the successful adaptation to climate change impacts, as well as for the successful preparedness, response and recovery from climate-related hazards and catastrophes. A good understanding of the roles, competences and running projects of the involved actors, and their respective interrelationships may inform the design and support the implementation of transformative responses required for coping with the changing type, severity and frequency of climate change impacts as well as for the effective management of climate risks. Such information has the potential to shed light on possible complementarities and trade-offs that may encourage, or endanger information and knowledge exchange, and coordination of relevant actors and their actions, and ultimately the achievement of long-term climate resilience.

In addition to understanding actor interactions within the boundaries of the CCA and DRR communities, exploring and reinforcing the interactions between them benefits both communities, as it may support the establishment of collaborations. It can help to eliminate many work inefficiencies and create important synergies with an overall goal of achieving an integrated and coordinated response to the current and projected climate change impacts.

Stocktaking can provide a comprehensive overview of the actors’ active in a network, including their tasks and competencies. The analysis of the actor interactions is typically performed by means of the Social Network Analysis (SNA). SNA focuses on the characteristics of the connections among actors rather than on characteristics of the actors themselves. It can express statistically and graphically patterns of interactions even in complex systems, identify which actors are better connected in them and through which type of interaction.

The SNA is may provide limited information on the reasons why actors have certain roles in their network or interact in certain ways. Social survey methods, such as in-depth interviews may be used to provide useful, contextual information. A regular repetition of such exercises, including the stocktaking can enhance the understanding of the way that networks evolve over time.


Stocktaking provides a clear overview of the actors and activities embedded in the CCA and DRR landscape. Taking into account the rapidly changing environment, stocktaking should be performed frequently, preferably accompanied by the visual mapping of the landscape. The stocktaking and SNA exercises can be performed on a local, sub-national, national, transnational or international level. We recommend public institutions/ projects financed from public resources to carry out such exercises and make the results broadly available, so that numerous actors can make use of the information.

Analysis of the CCA and DRR network provided useful insights into the interrelationships which can be difficult to see at a first glance.

Use the information while an institution re-thinks its mission/vision, design its work schedule and/or future activities to encourage cross-disciplinary dialogue and collaboration.


Representatives from:

  • national and sub-national (i.e., regional, local) government bodies;
  • non-governmental organisations;
  • academic / research institutes;
  • private sector;
  • networks (e.g. partnerships, forums);
  • portals (e.g. climate data portal, digital information system);
  • platforms (e.g. virtual networks to exchange information, digital portals which also include human expertise or are institutionalised with specific working groups;
  • media (e.g. online news, newspaper, radio);
  • funding agencies (e.g. donors like development banks) and
  • representatives of International / EU organisations.

4.3.3 Joint emergency exercises to strengthen collaboration on various levels between CCA and DRR actors

Organise joint emergency exercises to explore climate risks, exchange knowledge and jointly prepare for weather anomalies.

Ingrid Coninx, Wageningen University and Research

Emergency exercises are preparatory activities that involve these key players to anticipating extreme weather events or other weather anomalies and so avoid them becoming a disaster. There are, generally speaking, two types of emergency exercises: discussion-based exercises such as seminars, workshops, table-top exercises and games; and operations-based exercises such as drills, functional exercises and full-scale exercises.

Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like heat waves, water scarcity, drought, wildfires and flooding, etc., which can have a heavy impact on society, environment and the economy when not dealt with appropriately. As a result, emergency situations are likely to occur more often and partly have greater impact and result in a cascade of impacts on energy, transport and health infrastructure. By organising joint emergency exercises on potential hazards and disasters, key players can discuss actions to take in advance, during and after such an event, and explore the optimal way to collaborate and to communicate to avert the disaster.

The benefit of joint emergency exercises is to develop a common understanding on how to deal with a potential (climate) hazards and disaster and to train people on how to act during such an event. These exercises enable sharing knowledge among key players and highlight vulnerabilities and gaps in their preparation. However, the limitation of joint emergency exercises is that the actual event may differ significantly from the exercised situation, meaning that improvisation will have to take place to a certain extent.

The benefit of organising the emergency exercise involving both staff from climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction is that the risks and potential measures will be evaluated with the best knowledge and capacity available from both communities. Climate adaptation staff are acquainted with considering risks on the longer term and often perceive the risks from an integrated perspective. This knowledge is useful to include no-regret measures in the emergency operation. Disaster risk reduction staff bring knowledge on how to prepare people when a disaster is expected, and minimise the risk.

Disaster risk reduction staff consider disasters on a shorter term and are experienced in how to minimise impacts before, during and after a disaster is actually taking place. Merging the knowledge and measures from both communities is helpful and may result in new solutions and joint emergency measures to deal with the risks.


A joint (climate) risk analysis is a way to get a good understanding of the cascade of impacts due to climate change-related extreme events. Important players from the various departments and sectors explore questions such as: What are the consequences of the event and the indirect impacts? Do we have sufficient knowledge of these impacts? What are the potential cascading effects? Who will have to bear the costs of these impacts? This joint (climate) risk analysis reveals current operational procedures as well as the gaps in current collaborative networks, and contributes to mutual respect and understanding on how to strengthen collaboration and cooperation.


Public officers in CCA or DRR can take the initiative by involving public officers, practitioners from emergency services and organisations in the fields of climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, public safety, health, transport and energy. These exercises are useful for operational staff and related decision-makers as these people are aware of what is going on in the field and can improve processes by taking specific required decisions.

4.3.4 Proactive transboundary cooperation between CCA and DRR sectors.

Effective transboundary crisis cooperation is driven by proactive rather than reactive collaboration between the CCA and DRR communities. Traditional, cultural policies should be able to concede to flexible, international perspectives, to provide cooperative risk management for the border zone in a mutually sustainable manner.

Laura Booth (ETH Zurich, Switzerland).

A transboundary threat is characterised by its consequences covering areas that cross national boundaries. Such a crisis can escalate along both geographical and functional dimensions, which, when combined, defines the catastrophic potential. Proactive transboundary crisis management is relationship-building and strengthening communication during normal times, in order to build strong foundations before crises necessitate action by one or multiple states. Both CCA and DRR communities have a valuable engagement role to play in easing cooperation between states, especially when they can demonstrate aligning to a common threat, risk or purpose, such as climate change related risks. Decision-making frameworks which build on trusted cooperation provides more organic and flexible governance structures in times of crisis and improve objectivity in encouraging institutional cooperation within the “intermediary” space a border region often creates.

Apart from different languages and cultures either side of a border, the major institutional challenge is the different country approaches to disaster management. These barriers were explored during the EU-funded ESPREssO Project in a series of international Think Tanks. To change long-held practices requires a significant level of ‘buy-in’ from bordering nations, offering clear mutual incentives, such as avoiding duplication of activities, or saving costs by pooling resources. One example is transnational governance of European river basins, such as the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR, 2018) and the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhein River acting as international platforms which can align both CCA and DRR perspectives in adapting their strategies to managing and preparing for increasing climate-related risks, e.g. flooding.

Climate change has in recent years opened up discussions that were once held behind closed doors for a select group of disaster risk stakeholders, to a much broader network, within a wider-community approach, to sit at the table for disaster planning and decision-making. Coordination is defining how an action is to be carried out to pursue a common purpose, usually overseen by a higher function.

The structure also depends heavily on the governance system of the state. Structures may not evolve equally, so there may be disparity within a nation, with differing approaches used along its different border regions, often determined by historical trans-border relationships.


Cross-border crisis response teams help promote accountability. Often supported (or led) from a voluntary stance, perhaps centred on managing a common natural resource, such as an international river or lake, they can be highly successful in bringing new CCA and DRR actors to the table. They create an atmosphere of transparency, which builds trust between not just the different nations represented, but the disciplines of science and policy. Where stakeholders come and go, institutional links remain, which is key groundwork for facilitating action to take place during crises.

Drill scenarios need to be chosen in a way that all nations are concerned for their own territory, not merely coming to the aid of a neighbour offering free resources. Secondly, the scenario need to pose enough challenges that the countries actually work together and forge bonds of cooperation.

Thirdly, the scenario needs to be sufficiently limited in scope so that no international involvement or national override excludes local authorities from the decision and management process.


This action involves cross-border actors predominantly at the local, yet international, level of governance. NGOs may assist local authorities, but it would require support from the state level to allow cross-border interaction to build in any meaningful way.

This could largely be precipitated using good practice examples, to show the value of such initiatives. The cross-border actors are those that stand to benefit with obvious incentives to build transboundary cooperation, in order to make their roles easier during times of crisis, when time or resources may be in short supply. This incentive needs to be communicated upwards, as it is not always fully appreciated at state level (nor are the complexities or costs involved in doing so). The biggest benefit will be to the border zone population itself, who often have to circumnavigate legislative hurdles during crises that could easily be overcome with flexible transboundary cooperation.