Successful adaptation to climate change requires flexible adaptation strategies which consider regional ecological, economic and social circumstances. Coastal zones are considered to be significantly vulnerable to climate change impacts. The projected impacts of climate change in the metropolitan region of Bremen–Oldenburg, Germany (a coastal area), are, for example, rising sea level, salt water intrusion, temporary groundwater scarcity in the summer and increased (heavy) rainfalls. This paper uses an existing framework, the Adaptive Capacity Wheel (ACW), complemented by two additional dimensions: adaptation motivation and adaptation belief. The objectives were first, to assess the adaptive capacity of water governance in the study region, and second, to show how the ACW can be used as an approach and a communication tool with stakeholders to identify strengths and weaknesses. Based on this, a further objective was to discover what lessons and recommendations can be drawn that could help water experts and stakeholders in the future. The results show a high adaptive capacity and that the addition of the psychological dimensions was valuable. However, it is important to look closely at each dimension assessed by the ACW. The key recommendations are: to improve public participation; to ensure better coordination; to raise awareness; and to reduce the lack of political will to overcome adaptation barriers.

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