The Roles of Residents in Climate Adaptation: A systematic review in the case of The Netherlands

D.L.T. Hegger*, H.L.P. Mees, P.P.J. Driessen, Hens Runhaar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Climate adaptation literature has hitherto devoted limited attention to the roles of residents. Yet their role is crucial in addressing non- or maladaptation, as their initiative or consent is often necessary to take adaptation measures in or around the house. To address this knowledge gap, this paper explores mainstream and additional roles for residents through a literature review.Mainstream roles are those roles that residents usually take, while additional roles are more specific and local in nature. The latter may, however, provide the seeds for wider change. To structure the results, we made a distinction between three forms of residents’ commitment to adaptation: as (1) citizens falling under the jurisdiction of various governmental levels; (2) consumers (including homeowners) in the market; and (3) civil society members/partners. While this is an established categorization in other domains of environmental governance, it has not yet been systematically applied to the adaptation domain. The paper’s empirical focus regarding mainstream and additional roles is on the Dutch adaptation domains of flood risk management, storm water management and dealing with heat stress. We found scope for additional roles for residents, especially as consumers in the market and civil society members. The findings are of significance for the global debate on residents’ roles in climate adaptation and suggest that addressing all three forms of commitment may enhance the implementation of measures as well as their legitimacy, residents’ awareness and societies’ potential to innovate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-350
JournalEnvironmental Policy and Governance
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • adaptation governance
  • literature review
  • residents
  • responsibilities
  • roles
  • The Netherlands


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