The Governance of Climate Change Adaptation Through Urban Policy Experiments

Eric Chu

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23 Citations (Scopus)
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Climate change is increasingly posing risks to infrastructure and public services in cities across the global South. Building on ideas of policy experimentation at the nexus of institutional and transition theories, this paper assesses six climate change adaptation experiments across the cities of Surat, Indore and Bhubaneswar in India to uncover the politics behind how experiments are conceived of, implemented, and supported in light of local development needs. Through employing both embedded and cross-case comparative methods, I argue that policy experiments are often framed around achieving tangible urban economic benefits and maximizing specific project complementarities, which allow emerging adaptation priorities access to established policy directives and funding streams. However, I conclude that despite being arenas for testing new ideas, quantifying climate and development co-benefits, and engaging private and civil society actors, adaptation policy experiments must be coherent with urban political economic contexts in order for them to affect sustained, equitable and transformative programmatic change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-451
JournalEnvironmental Policy and Governance
Issue number6
Early online date3 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


  • climate change adaptation
  • India
  • policy experiments
  • urban governance
  • urban planning


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