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Multi-level governance and adaptive capacity in West Africa

In West Africa, many livelihoods depend on forest ecosystem goods and services, often in interplay with agricultural and livestock production systems. Climate change adds a new dimension to an already demanding situation in which governance systems are challenged to formulate, finance and implement adaptation strategies at multiple levels, often in a context of ongoing institutional changes, such as decentralisation. This study argues that a deeper understanding of actors, institutions and networks is needed to overcome barriers in socio-ecological systems to adaptation and enable or enhance adaptive capacity. The paper explores the relationship between governance and adaptive capacity, and assesses the effects of a set of variables and indicators related to two core variables: institutional flexibility; and individual and organisational understandings and perceptions. The comparative analysis is based on a number of case studies undertaken at different levels in Burkina Faso and Mali.