A framework for assessing the potential effectiveness of adaptation policies: Coastal risks and sea-level rise in the Maldives

Geronimo Gussmann and Jochen Hinkel
Created: 9/16/2021 -


Effective policies that integrate climate change considerations are crucial for successful adaptation to increasing climate risks. While there is an abundant normative literature proposing potential effective ways to adapt, there is a lack of empirical literature on current risk and adaptation policy and its potential effectiveness. Studying existing policies can help to reveal existing constraints, draw inferences about performance and design future policies. However, there is no established method for assessing risk management and adaptation policies. Addressing these gaps, we developed an analytical framework, combining and extending existing approaches, to assess the potential policy effectiveness in dealing with climate risks. The framework merges aspects of climate integration, policy coherence and compliance. Applying this framework to coastal risk management and coastal adaptation policies in the Maldives, we conducted a desk review of policy documents and semi-structured interviews with coastal policy experts and stakeholders. We find five policies addressing coastal risks and adaptation. One of these integrates sea-level rise considerations but is not legally binding. A key constraint on policy coherence are static approaches that ignore the variance in hydrodynamic hazard across the archipelago. Moreover, compliance is constrained by low capacities to monitor actual land use, political influence on the allocation of coastal protections and insufficient coastal protection budgets. Based on these findings, we expect that coastal policies are ill-prepared for dealing with sea-level rise and that scaling-up sea-level rise integration into policy is a critical first step towards improving this.

Published On


Adaptation Phase
National / Federal
Sector Addressed
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Governance and Policy
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Sea level rise
Habitat/Biome Type