Abstract

Conspicuous interdisciplinary effort has been spent on addressing the consequences of climate change in a forward-looking way. The concept of solution space is a recent contribution to help decision-makers identify feasible and effective adaptation solutions and to provide guidance on when they should be implemented and by whom. Although the current conceptualization of solution space already considers multiple disciplines, it remains dominated by biophysical ones and has not yet fully integrated legal and governance dimensions. This article first reflects on the current solution space framework through the lenses of law and governance and then proposes approaches to enrich legal and governance dimensions in the solution space concept. We argue that the legal and governance dimensions of the current concept of solution space can be improved by taking into account four aspects: 1) understanding the institutional and legal systems in a context-specific way; 2) embracing the dynamics and reflexivity of law and governance in the episteme of path dependency; 3) applying more diverse analytical methods (qualitative, qualitative/ quantitative, value-oriented) and/or assessments on a case-by-case basis; and 4) adding a normative perspective that includes the principles of legitimacy, transparency, accountability, equity, and distributive justice to measure the appropriateness of a certain adaptation strategy. The article concludes with suggestions for future research on how to implement the enriched solution space concept.

 

Highlights

Conceptualization of solution space for climate adaptation has not yet fully integrated legal and governance dimensions.

Understanding the institutional and legal systems in a context-specific way can help to enrich solution space concept.

Embracing the dynamics and reflexivity of law and governance can help to enrich solution space concept.

Applying more diverse analytical and case by case assessments can enrich solution space concept.

Normative perspectives can help to measure the appropriateness of adaptation strategies.

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