Note:  This paper is the result of a multidisciplinary research project that was sponsored by the Dutch national research programme Knowledge for Climate (www.climateresearchnetherlands.nl). The same research programme is financing a follow-up multidisciplinary research project called ‘Governance of Adaptation’ (http://knowledgeforclimate.climateresearchnetherlands.nl/governanceofadaptation). Peter P. J. Driessen is Professor of Environmental Studies, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, the Netherlands (E-mail: [email protected]). Helena F. M. W. van Rijswick is Professor of European and Dutch Water Law, Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance, Utrecht University, the Netherlands (E-mail: [email protected]). The authors wish to thank the Editor of Climate Law for extensive feedback during the review process.
Abstract: Adaptation to climate change is a complex process of societal change and should be studied as such. Attention to issues of climate adaptation has increased considerably over the past few years. Until now, less attention has been paid to questions concerning normative issues of societal change. In this paper we will address three important questions on the normative level: (a) What kind of legal and policy principles should public and private actors take to heart when formulating and implementing adaptation measures? (b) Which societal interests should be protected by a climate-adaptation policy and in what order? (c) To what extent are governments responsible for adaptation to climate change and what are the responsibilities to be borne by private parties and citizens? We will treat these questions from a mix of legal, administrative, and economic perspectives. We conclude with some recommendations on how to deal with these normative aspects in policy-making processes.