5. Urban adaptation to climate change
Convenors: Bruce Glavovic, Edward Ng, Cynthia Rosenzweig, Chris Zevenbergen
Many urban deltas are under stress of population growth, austerity measures and associated environmental pressure. Changes in rainfall patterns and higher temperatures increase this stress on cities and surrounding areas. Adaptation of the existing and newly developed urban fabric, public space and the water system, houses/buildings, and anthropogenic activities is essential to keep cities pleasant to live in over the years and to protect inhabitants from social dislocation and discomfort. One can distinguish five important components in this theme:
- Urban development patterns and the urban climate itself
- The issues of rapid urbanisation and associated economic activities and physical development
- Local climate impacts and differential vulnerability of urban deltas
- Short term adaptation actions and longer term strategies
- Effective and legitimate governance modes and the adaptive capacity of actors in urban areas to anticipate and cope with climate adaptation
These components are related to knowledge about the changing climate of urban areas, how much it matters (sensitivity), adaptation measures linked with the quantification of their impacts, policy impact and market transformation. The last two components deal with governance issues concerning the development and implementation of urban adaptation plans and measures.
Adaptation measures and governance of adaptation in urban areas can only be understood within the framework of the complexity of urban areas. Governments and other actors constantly have to deal with divergent interests and numerous pressures on space and socio-economic development in urban and metropolitan regions, such as the development and (re)development of commercial areas, housing, industrial parks, jobs, accessibility, and differential exposure and vulnerability, etc. which are surrounded by large uncertainties. Interests and claims meet one another not only at different spatial and temporal levels, (neighbourhood, municipal and metropolitan), but also between those levels and within and between different delta communities. The complexity of the urban environment is characterized by a fragmented problem solving capacity on the one hand and the need for comprehensive adaptation planning on the other.
The focus of this theme is on adaptation measures, policies and strategies to cope with heat waves, drought and/or extreme rainfall and weather events like typhoons. How effective and efficient are they and what are the institutional barriers and opportunities, including markets and policies, to implement them? This theme also covers local climatic conditions in urban areas, the impact of climate change on the city and governance aspects of urban adaptation.