In light of the persistent failure to reduce emissions decisively, facilitate long-term resilience against climate change and account for the connectedness of climate change with other social, environmental and economic concerns, we present a conceptual framework of capacities for transformative climate governance. Transformative climate governance enables climate mitigation and adaptation while purposefully steering societies towards low-carbon, resilient and sustainable objectives. The framework provides a systematic analytical tool for understanding and supporting the already ongoing changes of the climate governance landscape towards more experimental approaches that include multi-scale, cross-sectoral and public-private collaborations. It distinguishes between different types of capacities needed to address transformation dynamics, including responding to disturbances (stewarding capacity), phasing-out drivers of path dependency (unlocking capacity), creating and embedding novelties (transformative capacity) and coordinating multi-actor processes (orchestrating capacity). Our case study of climate governance in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, demonstrates how the framework helps to map the activities by which multiple actors create new types of conditions for transformative climate governance, assess the effectiveness of the capacities and identify capacity gaps. Transformative and orchestrating capacities in Rotterdam emerged through the creation of space and informal networks for strategic and operational innovation, which also propelled new types of governance arrangements and structures. Both capacities support stewarding and unlocking by integrating and mainstreaming different goals, connecting actors to each other for the development of solutions and mediating interests. Key challenges across capacities remain because of limited mainstreaming of long-term and integrated thinking into institutional and regulatory frameworks. As the ongoing changes in climate governance open up multiple questions about actor roles, effective governance processes, legitimacy and how effective climate governance in the context of transformations can be supported, we invite future research to apply the capacities framework to explore these questions.

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Regional Environmental Change

Hölscher, K, Frantzeskaki, N, & Loorbach, D.A. (2018). Steering transformations under climate change. Regional Environmental Change, 1–15. doi:10.1007/s10113-018-1329-3