Adaptation to climate change is an essential policy response as impacts will disproportionately fall on marginal populations who have higher exposure and lower adaptive capacity, increasing vulnerability and threatening to dismantle the poverty alleviation gains of the last fifty years (Tol et al. 2004; Bohle, Downing, and Watts 1994). Institutions structure climate impacts within a given socio-political and ecological context, shape responses and mediate the influence of external interventions on adaptation practices (Agrawal 2008). Institutional adaptation under appropriate conditions, therefore, can reduce the impact of stress on vulnerable groups and enhance resilience (Adger 2006).
China was the first developing country to develop a National Climate Change Program and subsequent policy documents have signaled China’s determination to tackle climate change at the national and provincial scale. This research examined the role the provincial government in Shaanxi Province, China in developing an enabling environment for adaptation for rural communities. The research had several objectives (1) investigate the role of government agencies in policy development, research and implementation around adaptation (2) understand perception of climate change and (3) assess the governance structures around climate change adaptation related initiatives and their ability to promote or constrain adaptation options.