Tabara J.D., Dai X., Jia G., Mcevoy D., Neufeldt H., Serra A., Werners S., West J.J.. 2010. The climate learning ladder. A pragmatic procedure to support climate adaptation. Environmental Policy and Governance. 20


To identify learning processes that support climate adaptation

Geographic Focus: 


Key Findings: 

In this article, the “climate learning ladder” (CLL) is presented as an analytical and reflective tool for critical decision-making in climate adaptation. This tool was developed through the process of developing innovative appraisal methods for climate adaptation in two distinct social-ecological contexts. The article contends that climate adaptation is beyond simply presenting ‘more knowledge’ to policymakers. Instead, a multi-step learning process is presented i.e. the CLL. The first step refers to perceptions, frames and awareness; step two identifies incentives, sanctions and motives; step three considers individual adaptation options and resources for transformation and collaboration; and step four looks at institutionalising new rights, responsibilities and feedback. It is recognised that the “ladder” is not one way, and that unlearning can also occur.


The “learning ladder” is a pragmatic approach to climate adaptation that is relevant at individual, organisational and institutional levels. It can therefore be used to support learning processes and interactions with various agents. It is a conceptual model and, as with all conceptual models, the real test is in implementation. However, this article explains how the tool was developed as part of a climate adaptation appraisal project, and tested in the later stages of that same project. It therefore provides some practical insights where strengths and weaknesses are discussed and opportunities for improvement are proposed. As an operational heuristic tool, the authors believe that it may harbour practical use for those seeking to develop learning processes in climate adaptation.