Sea-levels have been rising at a faster rate than expected. Because of the maladaptive outcomes of engineering-based hard coastal protection infrastructure, policy makers are looking for alternative adaptation approaches to buffer against coastal flooding—commonly known as nature-based coastal adaptation (NbCA). However, how to implement NbCA under an institutional structure demonstrating ‘inertia’ to alternative adaptation approaches is a question that seeks scientific attention. Building on a case study derived from a highly climate-vulnerable Canadian province, this study shows how the entrepreneurial use of scientific information and institutional opportunities helped institutional actors overcome the inertia. Drawing on secondary document analysis and primary qualitative data, this study offers five key lessons to institutional actors aiming at implementing NbCA: (i) develop knowledge networks to help avoid uncertainty; (ii) identify and utilize opportunities within existing institutions; (iii) distribute roles and responsibilities among actors based on their capacity to mobilize required resources; (iv) provide entrepreneurial actors with decision-making autonomy for developing agreed-upon rules and norms; and (v) facilitate repeated interactions among institutional actors to develop a collaborative network among them. This study, therefore, helps us to understand how to implement a relatively new adaptation option by building trust-based networks among diverse and relevant institutional actors.
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