Research Südtirol

5c/2022: Climate change integration in the multilevel governance of Italy and Austria

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  • Project duration: September 2020 - December 2022
  • Project status:
  • Funding:
    Provincial P.-L.P. 14. Research projects (Province BZ funding /Project)
  • Total project budget: €299,775.96

Climate change “is the epitome of a multilevel governance challenge”. While objectives and framework rules are decided at the international level, the implementation of those same rules requires the adoption of measures at different levels of government, including the subnational level.

This project focusses on subnational governments as central players in the integration of climate change considerations in those policy sectors where they exercise legislative powers. The reasons for this focus relate to three main factors. First, the impacts of climate change are felt most immediately at subnational and local levels, and require policy responses that are closer to citizens. Second, subnational governments hold powers in most of the sectors either impacted by climate change or that directly affect national and international mitigation and adaptation goals, including transport, energy policies (hydroelectric), and spatial planning. Third, there are few comparative studies of climate change integration at the subnational level.

In this context, this comparative project investigates two main research questions:

1) To what extent and by which means have the Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano in Italy and Länder Tyrol and Vorarlberg in Austria integrated climate policies in sectors where they exercise exclusive and shared legislative powers? The project will concentrate on the following policies: transport, energy and water, and territorial planning.

2) What institutional factors prevent or facilitate climate change integration at the subnational and local levels, in terms of both policy-making and implementation? Five main institutional factors are argued to play potentially decisive roles: 1) coordination among authorities responsible for sectoral policies (horizontal/vertical and formal/informal); 2) public participation; 3) leadership (both political and in the administration); 4) information on climate change (as available for policy-makers, administrators, and the public) and its communication (at what stage and by what means); and 5) dedicated funding.

These research questions will be investigated by an integrated research team composed of experts in law and sociology of law from Eurac Research, the University of Innsbruck and the University of Trento. The main methodology used will be: a) a thorough literature review; b) text analysis of policy documents, strategies, sectoral plans, and interdepartmental arrangements; and c) interviews of both policy officers and main stakeholders.

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Eurac Research is a private research center based in Bolzano (South Tyrol) with researchers from a wide variety of scientific fields who come from all over the globe. Together, through scientific knowledge and research, they share the goal of shaping the future.

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Our research addresses the greatest challenges facing us in the future: people need health, energy, well-functioning political and social systems and an intact environment. These are complex questions, and we are seeking the answers in the interaction between many different disciplines. In so doing, our research work embraces three major themes: regions fit for living in, diversity as a life-enhancing feature, a healthy society.

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