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The close linkages between climate change adaptation and development have led to calls for addressing the two issues in an integrated way. ‘Mainstreaming’ climate information, policies and measures into ongoing development planning and decision-making has been proposed as one solution, seen as making more sustainable, effective and efficient use of resources than designing and managing climate policies separately from ongoing development activities. But what does mainstreaming look like in practice? This article explores the process of mainstreaming, drawing on the country case study of Bangladesh, one of the countries that have made significant progress on adaptation planning and mainstreaming. The article begins by making the case for mainstreaming, by exploring the linkages and trade-offs between adaptation and development and describing the various approaches to mainstreaming from the literature. Second, it considers how to implement mainstreaming in practice, reviewing an existing four-step framework. Examining this framework against the plethora of mainstreaming experiences in Bangladesh, the article considers how the framework can be used as a tool for assessing the progress of mainstreaming progress in Bangladesh. The article concludes that while the framework is useful for considering some of the preconditions necessary for getting mainstreaming underway, experiences of mainstreaming in Bangladesh reflect a much more complex patchwork of processes and stakeholders that need to be taken into consideration in further research on this topic. WIREs Clim Change 2014, 5:37–51. doi: 10.1002/wcc.226

Conflict of interest: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest for this article.

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