Adaptive Law Revisited from a European Perspective: A Useful Framework to Prepare EU Law and Multilevel Governance for (Climate) Change and to Cultivate a Culture of Trust?

The “Adaptive Law” framework has been developed by several US scholars (e.g. DeCaro et al., 2017; Arnold & Gunderson 2013) and basically explores how law could play a more effective role in preparing society for radical and disruptive socio-ecological developments, such as climate change. The theory was initiated in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy (2012), when experts realized that rebuilding after disasters is largely a legal challenge. Therefore, it was not only important to rethink the use of space, architecture and infrastructure to develop more resilience; also the legal and governance system needed to become more resilient and “adaptive”. This paper is aimed at examining how the Adaptive Law framework can be fine-tuned and tailored to help us to rethink how EU law and governance can become more resilient and more easily adaptive to change and to technological innovation. In doing so, the paper also draws on social science literature related to trust, change and uncertainty.