Mehrotra et al. 2013
Mehrotra, S., J. Carmin, A. Fenech, H. Fünfgeld, Y. Labane, J. Li, R. Roggema, F. Thomalla, and, 2013: Adapting to climate change in cities. In Climate Adaptation Futures. J. Palutikof, S.L. Boulter, A.J. Ash, M.S. Smith, M. Parry, M. Waschka, and D. Guitart, Eds. Wiley-Blackwell, 311-321.
The central role of cities in climate change adaptation is being recognised for several reasons. Cities are critical to local livelihoods as well as to regional and global economies. Further, urban agglomerations house some of the world's most vulnerable populations and assets — many in cities with slums located along the coasts of Asia, Africa and Latin America (Mehrotra et al. 2009). In addition, adapting to climate change is a challenge in all cities because urban areas are the most densely populated places on the planet and are deeply altered physical and biological spaces.
This chapter presents physical and social challenges that cities face, and adaptation planning case studies prepared for the Adapting to Climate Change in Cities Session at the International Climate Adaptation Futures Conference. The goal was to explore risk assessment, differential approaches to adaptation planning, and mitigation and adaptation interactions in cities. Challenges and opportunities across a spectrum of urban developmental conditions were explored. These ranged from the regional studies of the Dutch province of Groningen, to nationally important cities such as Tunis, Quito and Toronto, to small municipalities in Australia.
The conceptual framework developed by Mehrotra forms the basis for this chapter and unpacks urban climate risk into 'hazards, vulnerability, and agency'. In this framework, hazard is measured through trends and projections in climate parameters; social and physical vulnerability is measured through poverty levels, geographic characteristics and intensity and scale of economic activity; and agency is measured through the ability and willingness of local governments and key stakeholders to respond to risk reduction through adaptation planning that informs ongoing and planned investments. The authors shared insights emerging from urban risk management approaches, and key elements of adaptation planning mechanisms in cities in developing and developed country. Limits to adaptation stemming from geographic factors, economic barriers, lack of capacity and knowledge gaps were also discussed. Findings from the research presented are discussed here, organised along the two key themes of urban risk (Tunis, Toronto, and Australian coastal cities), adaptation planning (five developing country cities, Dutch Eemsdelta, and Australian local governments). In conclusion, emerging issues from these city case studies and interactive roles of mitigation and adaptation are articulated.
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