Social learning for adaptation to climate change in developing countries: insights from Vietnam

Maria Clemens*, Jeroen Rijke, Assela Pathirana, Jaap Evers, Nguyen Hong Quan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Social learning concepts of developed countries are often recommended for implementing strategies for climate change adaptation in developing countries. The effectiveness of these replications is questionable, because it is necessary to align the set-up of learning processes with the social, economic and environmental conditions of the local context. In this paper, we compare the theory of social learning in Learning Alliances with a Working Group for climate change adaptation in Can Tho City in Vietnam to see how far it is possible to extrapolate current social learning concepts from developed countries to developing countries. The Working Group facilitates participation processes among stakeholders to use and produce knowledge, to work together on problems and to further develop solutions. This is mostly similar to the social learning form of a Learning Alliance. However, the interactions among stakeholders in the Working Group evolve in a much more formal way, which leads to several problems caused by the relative inflexibility of the top-down stipulation of stakeholders’ participation, planning procedures and solution approaches. To overcome this challenge, we recommend introducing elements of Learning Alliances to the Working Group, in order to stimulate an open dialogue with incentives and an extension of an action practice approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-378
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Water and Climate Change
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2015


  • climate change adaptation
  • developing countries
  • learning alliances
  • social learning
  • vietnam
  • working groups


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