Report on cross-cutting approaches for the assessment of climate change adaption on selected EU sites or hotspots and potentials for adaption and mitigation in the dairy sector

Chris Kjeldsen, Anne-Mette Langvad Sørensen, Tommy Dalgaard, Morten Graversgard


Adaption to climate change in the context of agriculture involves collaborative planning and development of practices which is deemed more sustainable than preceeding practices. It is however not given that sustainable development will be the outcome of such efforts. In some cases, even motivated participants experience that despite good intentions, high levels of knowledge, feasible models, appropriate technologies and many other factors present, they still might not succeed bringing about the desired change. The reasons for this can not easily be reduced to just one factor, but is very likely to be the outcome of highly complex interactions between social, technological, institutional, or even personal factors. The report documents attempts to understand the complexities of climate change adaption in a Danish water catchment, Lundgaards Bæk, which is dominated by dairy farming. As part of the EU projects AQUARIUS and MACSUR, a local action group was formed which was composed of local farmers, local agricultural advisors, advisors from the national agricultural advisory service, environmental planners from the local municipality, and environmental planners from the national environmental agency in Denmark. The action group was supposed to develop specific measures, which were supposed to lead to an overall reduction in nitrogen loading of the neighboring fjord, Mariager Fjord. The report addresses three related research themes: (1) how do the stakeholders in question interact during the process of climate change adaption, (2) when do the stakeholders encounter opportunities and barriers during the process, and finally (3) does the adaption process in question lead to the desired outcomes? The empirical background of the report is a detailed process study of dynamics within a group of stakeholders, including farmers and extension officers, who were supposed to develop sustainable management practices in order to reduce nitrogen leaching to the Mariager Fjord. The study is based on the assumption that in order for research and policy to contribute to sustainable practices, deeper understanding of complex dynamics within stakeholder partnerships is needed. Based on a theoretical framework derived from social learning, adaptive co-management and Andrew Pickering’s notion of ‘the mangle’, different in-depth explanations to why sustainable development did not occur, are offered. One explanation concerns social-psychological dynamics of knowledge. Another explanation concerns the mechanisms by which social and material forces affect outcomes of the adaption process. The report concludes by exploring the study’s relevance in relation to policy, research and practice, followed by suggestions for further in-depth case studies and experimentation in practice.


Please contact the first author to obtain a copy of the report (26 pp). MACSUR members can access the report in the file repository after login on

Previous issues and volumes can be found in the 'Archives' section.

You can refer to a paper published in this series in the following format Author (2013) Title. FACCE MACSUR Reports 2: D-C1.3, where "D-C1.3" is the article ID en lieu of page range.