The Copenhagen climate change meeting needs to make decisions on the structures and institutional arrangements to fund and deliver climate change adaptation (CCA) at the international level, and mechanisms to integrate CCA principles and approaches into developing country policy processes. But incorporating scientific knowledge and expertise into policy dialogue on CCA is a complex and multilayered undertaking. This Background Note draws on an international survey, plus six country case studies, to provide a comprehensive overview of Southern perspectives on the interface between science and policy. It offers crucial insights for the promotion of effective CCA policy, which could help move CCA up the agenda and ensure that it is mainstreamed in policy processes. This background note summarises these insights, using examples related to CCA in developing country contexts. It focuses, in particular, on the critical role of knowledge intermediaries in brokering understanding between researcher and policy communities, but also among the general public, in advancing effective and context-sensitive CCA policy strategies.