Subsystem Structures, Shifting Mandates and Policy Capacity: Assessing Canada’s Ability to Adapt to Climate Change

Jonathan Craft, Michael Howlett


Adapting to climate change requires governments
to design and implement policies capable of dealing with
long-term problems. This poses significant policy design and
implementation challenges since policies must also be multilevel
and multi-sectoral in nature given the cross-sectoral
and international character of climate change issues. Responsive
policy-making on climate change issues thus requires
both sophisticated policy analysis as well as an institutional
structure which allows problems to be dealt with in
a way which corresponds with changing organizational mandates,
resources and network structures. Designing such
policies requires matching policy analytical resources in
relevant government departments and agencies with new
and expanded mandates, a process which is not always necessarily
successful. This introductory article presents the
framework utilized in a collaborative study of climate change
adaptation capacity in four Canadian policy sectors (agriculture,
finance, infrastructure, and transportation) and one US
case (the energy sector in Colorado). The study framework
and subsequent analysis examine policy from a three-level
perspective including (1) the macro nature of the subsystem
involved, (2) the meso level of the organization or leadagency
in charge of the issue and (3) the micro level nature
of policy work being undertaken in each sector.

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@Canadian Political Science Review (CPSR). ISSN 1911-4125