The understanding and role of uncertainty and risk in climate change adaptation: local and central authorities in Norway
A common claim is that emerging and future climate change is rendering traditional conceptions of uncertainty and risk obsolete. This is because a changing climate makes it quite a challenge to calculate uncertainties, establishing the measurable uncertainty as the basis for quantifying risk. Approaches that are capable of accommodating and possibly countering the wickedness caused by increasing uncertainty are necessary, the argument holds. Following up on previous studies of learning–knowledge and adapting to a changing climate, this article provides an analysis of how differences in the understanding of uncertainty and risk inform and determine governmental adaptation policies and actions of the local and Central government in Norway, also discussing governance implications. The study finds that the understanding of uncertainty and risk generally is poor at the local level, but better at the state level, especially among highly educated staff with a background in, for example, Natural sciences and engineering. On the other hand, a traditional understanding of uncertainty and risk is dominating: seeking to establish measurable uncertainty as a basis for quantifying risk. The article discusses combining different approaches of uncertainty and risk, thereby introducing a broader basis for governance, also implying multi-level network governance. On the one hand, this may help the local–central government in handling wicked problems of adapting to a changing climate but on other hand, it also possibly nurture struggles between different knowledge bases and stakeholder interest, thereby fuelling the wickedness of adaptation policies.