Diversification of flood risk management strategies (FRMS) in response to climate change relies on the adaptive capacities of institutions. Although adaptive capacities enable flexibility and adjustment, more empirical research is needed to better grasp the role of adaptive capacities to accommodate expected climate change effects. This paper presents an analytical framework based on the Adaptive Capacity Wheel (ACW) and Triple-loop Learning. The framework is applied to evaluate the adaptive capacities that were missing, employed, and developed throughout the ‘Alblasserwaard-Vijfheerenlanden’ (The Netherlands) and the ‘Wesermarsch’ (Germany) pilot projects. Evaluations were performed using questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups. From the 22 capacities of ACW, three capacities were identified important for diversifying the current FRMS; the capacity to develop a greater variety of solutions, continuous access to information about diversified FRMS, and collaborative leadership. Hardly any capacities related to ‘learning’ and ‘governance’ were mentioned by the stakeholders. From a further reflection on the data, we inferred that the pilot projects performed single-loop learning (incremental learning: ‘are we doing what we do right?’), rather than double-loop learning (reframing: ‘are we doing the right things?’). As the development of the framework is part of ongoing research, some directions for improvement are highlighted.
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