Politics and policy processes

This following pages provide resources which are relevant to the analysis of politics and policy processes including cross-scale and multi-level interactions.
Ahsin Aligori

This following pages provide resources which are relevant to the analysis of politics and policy processes including cross-scale and multi-level interactions.

This guidance will continue to grow and evolve based on feedback. If you have new methods, tools or applications to add, please create a new article so it can be linked to the guidance pages.

Tools, methods and frameworks

Systems maps and influence diagrams

Ways to understand a system more fully – who is in the system, who isn’t and why etc. can be done in groups, by individuals etc. See Guide to Diagrams.

Complementarities theory (AQAL)

A simpler tool to get at some of the PACT-like aspects to help understand how change happens (or doesn’t): for more information, see Complementarities Matrix in Insider Voices: Human Dimensions of Low Carbon Technology (pages 106-111).

A framework to diagnose barriers to climate change adaptation

This article presents a systematic framework to identify barriers that may impede the process of adaptation to climate change. The framework targets the process of planned adaptation and focuses on potentially challenging, but malleable barriers (Moser and Ekstrom 2010).

Framework for engaging policy-makers in dialogue

Drawing on case studies in Sweden, Canada and Indonesia, this report presents an analytical model showing the multiple ways in which adaptation projects can influence broader policy.


EUREAPA is an online scenario modelling and policy assessment tool created for the One Planet Economy Network. It uses a sophisticated economic input-output model to understand the environmental pressures associated with consumption activities.

The scenario functions in EUREAPA enable decision makers to answer questions about the effects of policy on environment, consumption, industry and trade, thus helping to formulate strategies for sustainable consumption and production in Europe and beyond.

Confronting SEA with real planning: the case of follow-up in regional plans and programmes in Sweden

The Stockholm Environment Institute has worked to improve the quality of screening decisions for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA and Strategic Environment Assessments (SEA), and Environmental Impact Statements in Estonia (Peterson et al. 2010; Peterson 2010), as well as advancing decision-centered SEA (Wallgren et al. 2011).

Analysis of Forestry Policy, Acts and Rules of Bhutan to Mainstream Climate Change Adaptation

This report describes the institutional arrangements surrounding the use and management of forest resources in Bhutan and outlines recommendations on how climate change adaptation may be mainstreamed.

Relevant projects and reports

Adaptation Policy Across Europe

This report from the MEDIATION project reviews the policy framework for adaptation in 8 European countries and identifies challenges and policy needs.

A guide to COP19 negotiations (Polish)

The 19th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC and the 9th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol took place from 11 to 22 November. The conference was held at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland. This guide to negotiations gives an insider perspective on what can be achieved.


The ClimateCost project, coordinated by SEI, has concentrated on preparing a series of sectoral technical policy briefs that looked at economic implications and adaptation requirements under different climate scenarios, including social tipping points.

Arctic Resilience Report

This report includes a resilience assessment methodology that is relevant at an international regional scale and which includes integration of different knowledge traditions, e.g. social and natural sciences as well as traditional knowledge and different scale perspectives (Nilsson and Rockström 2012).

Healthy Futures

The HEALTHY FUTURES project is motivated by a concern for health impacts in eastern Africa. It aims to respond to this concern through construction of a disease risk mapping system for three water-related, high-impact VBDs (malaria, Rift Valley fever and schistosomiasis), taking into account environmental/climatic trends and changes in socio-economic conditions to predict future risk.

Estonian Transport System and Mobility Trends

The Stockholm Environment Institute participates in policy-making processes and development plans and strategies at the national, regional and local levels. Evaluating Estonia’s transport system from the point of view of sustainable development has been a key component of this (Jüssi and Sarv, 2011).

Network of Excellence LIAISE (2009-2014)

This network aims to identify and bridge the existing operational gaps between research into Impact Assessment (IA) tools and practitioners in the policy making community. The aim is to improve the quality and application of IA tools to promote more effective and efficient decision making.

Mediation (2010-2013)

This project aims to support the implementation of the EU White Paper on Climate Change Adaptation through the development of a flexible, interactive common platform, called the Mediation Adaptation Pathfinder which links dynamically to decision-making tools on weADAPT. This platform provides structured guidance on applying appropriate methods and tools in a range of situations associated with impacts, vulnerability and adaptation.

APRAISE (2011-2014)

Apraise is expected to improve understanding among policy-makers of:

  • the efficiency, effectiveness and efficacy of existing and potentially new environmental policies
  • how these policies might interact, and
  • what the impact of such policy interactions might be for achieving social, environmental and economic goals at both the European and Member State level.

Baltic Sea Region Programme, Baltic Compass (2009-2012)

The Baltic Compass contributed to better policy adaptation and governance for reducing eutrophication of the Baltic Sea. The policy recommendations to support the fulfilment of the EU Baltic Sea Region Strategy, HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan and National Rural Development Plans.

Integrating climate change into long-term strategic city development planning: the case of Cape Town

Using climate information to support adaptation planning and policy-making: A case study in Cape Town, South Africa (and case study in Bagamoyo, Tanzania)

Photography © LFW Youth

References and further reading

Ballard, D., Reason, P., Coleman, G.,2010. Using the AQAL Framework to Accelerate Responses to Climate Change. Journal of Integral Theory and Practice.

Beynon, P., Christelle, C., Gaarder, M., Masset, E., 2012. What Difference does a Policy Brief Make. Institute of Development Studies, the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation.

Downing, T. D. and R. E. Butterfield. 2012. Technical Policy Briefing Note 7: Extreme Outcomes. Prospects for major tipping and socially contingent events and associated economic and social costs. ISBN 978-91-86125-35-6.

Forrester, J., M. Nilsson, C. Lee, H. Moora, L. Persson, Å. Persson, K. Peterson, J. Simon and H. Tuhkanen. 2009. Getting to Policy Impact: Lessons from 20 Years of Bridging Science and Policy with Sustainability Knowledge. Stockholm Environment Institute.

Joining the dots: Learning to work collaboratively to address climate change, (2013) SEI/WWF, Taylor, A., Devisscher, T., Jeans, H., Phillips, J.

Jüssi, M. and K. Sarv 2011. Sustainable Transport Perspectives for Estonia. SEI Policy Brief.

Larsen, R. K. 2010. Philippine Integrated Coastal Management: the Need for Improved Accountability and Local Ownership. SEI Policy Brief.

Larsen, R. K, Å. Gerger Swartling, N. Powell, B. May, R. Plummer, L. Simonsson, M. Osbeck. 2012. A framework for facilitating dialogue between policy planners and local climate change adaptation professionals: Cases from Sweden, Canada and Indonesia. Journal of Environmental Science and Policy, 23, 2012. DOI: 10.1007/s11213-012-9243-y

Larsen, R. K., Å. Gerger Swartling, N. Powell and M. Osbeck. 2011. From Case Studies to Climate Adaptation Policy: a Framework for Dialogue Between Local Professionals and Decision Makers. SEI Policy Brief.

Nilsson, M., H. Wiklund, G. Finnveden, K. Lundberg, T. Tyskeng, D. Jonsson and O. Wallgren. 2009. Analytical framework and tool kit for SEA follow up. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 29 (3): 186–199.

Nilsson, A. E., Å. Gerger Swartling and K. Eckerberg. 2012. Knowledge for local climate change adaptation in Sweden: challenges of multilevel governance. Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, 17(6-7): 751–767.

Nilsson, A. E. and J. Rockström. 2012. Assessing resilience when change is the only given. The Circle 1: 10–11.

Perkin, E., Court., J., 2005. Networks and Policy Processes in International Development: a literature review. Overseas Development Institute.

Peterson, K. 2010. Quality of environmental impact statements and variability of scrutiny by reviewers. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 30(3): 169–176.

Pfenninger et al. 2010. Report on perceived policy needs and decision contexts. Mediation Seventh Framework Programme.

Peterson, K., M. Kose and M. Uustal. 2010. Screening decisions concerning the likely impacts of plans and projects on Natura 2000 sites. Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management, 12(2): 185–214.

Sura, K., Schweimier, N. 2013. Climate diplomacy: seeing the bigger picture. Policy Brief. Climate and Development Knowledge Network. UK

Sutton, R., 1999. The policy process: an overview. Overseas Development Institute.

Thomalla, F. and R. K. Larsen. 2010. Resilience in the Context of Tsunami Early Warning Systems and Community Disaster Preparedness in the Indian Ocean Region. Environmental Hazards, 9(3): 249–265.

Wallgren, O., M. Nilsson, D. K. Jonsson and H. Wiklund. 2011. Confronting SEA with real planning: the case of follow-up in regional plans and programmes in Sweden. Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management, 13(2): 229–250. DOI: 10.1142/S1464333211003869

Wallgren, O., M. Nilsson, D. K. Jonsson and H. Wiklund. 2011. Confronting SEA with real planning: the case of follow-up in regional plans and programmes in Sweden. Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management, 13(2): 229–250.

Watkiss, P. (Editor) 2011. The ClimateCost Project. Final Report. Volume 1: Europe. Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden.

Wolmer, W., Keeley, J., Leach, M., 2006. Understanding policy processes: A review of IDS research on the environment.

Related resources

Add your project

Exchange your climate change adaptation projects and lessons learned with the global community.