Contrasting frames in policy debates on climate change adaptation

Authors Dewulf, A.
Year of Publication 2013
Type of Publication Journal Article
Journal Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews-climate Change
Volume 4
Issue 7
Pagination 321-330
Open Access No


The process by which issues, decisions, or events acquire different meanings from different perspectives has been studied as framing. In policy debates about climate change adaptation, framing the adaptation issue is a challenge with potentially far-reaching implications for the shape and success of adaptation projects. From the available literature on how the meaning of climate change adaptation is constructed and debated, three key dimensions of frame differences were identified: (1) the tension between adaptation and mitigation as two contrasting but interrelated perspectives on climate change; (2) the contrast between framing climate change adaptation as a tame technical problem, and framing climate change as a wicked problem of governance; and (3) the framing of climate change adaptation as a security issue, contrasting state security frames with human security frames. It is argued that the study of how climate change adaptation gets framed could be enriched by connecting these dimensions more closely with the following themes in framing research: (1) how decision-making biases that to framing issues as structured technical problems; (2) the process of scale framing by which issues are situated at a particular scale level; and (3) the challenge of dealing with the variety of frames in adaptation processes. WIREs Clim Change 2013, 4:321-330. doi: 10.1002/wcc.227 Conflict of interest: The author has declared no conflicts of interest for this article. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.