Preparing Cities for Climate Change: An International Comparative Assessment of Urban Adaptation Planning

Principal Investigators Dr. JoAnn Carmin, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
Funding Source U.S. National Science Foundation
Project Website Unavailable

This research is a comparative international assessment of: 1) the types of climate adaptation plans being adopted in cities; 2) factors that explain the different approaches municipalities are taking in their climate adaptation planning; 3) the ways in which knowledge of projected climate impacts is shaping urban planning and action; and 3) the extent to which NGO and community-based efforts support, replace, or circumvent government adaptation initiatives.

As a means for explaining variations in urban climate adaptation planning and action, Dr. Carmin draws on theories of diffusion and capacity. According to diffusion theory, incentives place pressure on cities that create imperatives for action while the transmission of information and ideas forms a basis for change by promoting awareness of critical issues and practices. At the same time, the ability of a city to respond to incentives and enact ideas is facilitated by the availability of resources, including the contributions of local, national, and transnational nongovernmental (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs). To understand the ways in which incentives and ideas are affecting urban adaptation planning, case studies are being conducted in cities in Africa, Asia, and Europe. The cases focus on the adaptation planning process, including the roles played by different stakeholders and the impact that incentives, information, ideas, and resources had on the types of plans being adopted. The findings from the cases will provide a basis for the second phase of research, a large-scale survey of cities. A survey questionnaire will be distributed to select city representatives affiliated with the United Cites and Local Governments (UCLG) network. The survey not only will establish the extent to which the findings from the cases can be generalized, it will provide a foundation for developing new theoretical frameworks about planning for urban climate adaptation.