Climate change governance in the anthropocene: Emergence of polycentrism in Chile

Rodrigo Arriagada, Paulina Aldunce, Gustavo Blanco, Cecilia Ibarra, Pilar Moraga, Laura Nahuelhual, Raúl O'Ryan, Anahí Urquiza, Laura Gallardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Multilateral efforts are essential to an effective response to climate change, but individual nations define climate action policy by translating local and global objectives into adaptation and mitigation actions. We propose a conceptual framework to explore opportunities for polycentric climate governance, understanding polycentricity as a property that encompasses the potential for coordinating multiple centers of semiautonomous decision-making. We assert that polycentrism engages a diverse array of public and private actors for a more effective approach to reducing the threat of climate change. In this way, polycentrism may provide an appropriate strategy for addressing the many challenges of climate governance in the Anthropocene. We review two Chilean case studies: Chile's Nationally Determined Contribution on Climate Change and the Chilean National Climate Change Action Plan. Our examination demonstrates that Chile has included a diversity of actors and directed significant financial resources to both processes. The central government coordinated both of these processes, showing the key role of interventions at higher jurisdictional levels in orienting institutional change to improve strategic planning and better address climate change. Both processes also provide some evidence of knowledge co-production, while at the same time remaining primarily driven by state agencies and directed by technical experts. Efforts to overcome governance weaknesses should focus on further strengthening existing practices for climate change responses, establishing new institutions, and promoting decision-making that incorporates diverse social actors and multiple levels of governance. In particular, stronger inclusion of local level actors provides an opportunity to enhance polycentric modes of governance and improve climate change responses. Fully capitalizing on this opportunity requires establishing durable communication channels between different levels of governance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number68
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Chile
  • Climate change
  • Governance
  • Polycentrism
  • Public consultation


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