Variations in approaches to urban climate adaptation: Experiences and experimentation from the global South

Isabelle Anguelovski*, Eric Chu, JoAnn Carmin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)
430 Downloads (Pure)


In recent years, an increasing number of local governments are recognizing the impact of climate change on different urban sectors. This has led many to pursue climate adaptation planning, seeking to achieve preparedness through reducing vulnerability and enhancing resilience of populations, assets, and municipal operations. Although cities typically share these common goals, many are electing to pursue different planning approaches. In this paper, we examine three climate adaptation planning approaches in the cities of Quito (Ecuador), Surat (India), and Durban (South Africa) and analyze the trade-offs associated with different planning pathways and different forms of stakeholder involvement. We assess the potentials and limitations of these different approaches, including their implications for enhancing government integration and coordination, promoting participation and adaptive capacity of vulnerable groups, and facilitating overall urban resilience. We find that, in order to gain widespread commitment on adaptation, sustained political leadership from the top, departmental engagement, and continued involvement from a variety of stakeholders are integral to effective decision-making and institutionalization of programs in the long run. When climate adaptation is advanced with a focus on learning, awareness, and capacity building, the process will likely lead to more sustained, legitimate, and comprehensive adaptation plans and policies that enhance the resilience of the most affected urban areas and residents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-167
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Early online date22 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


  • Cities
  • Climate adaptation
  • Experimentation
  • Innovation
  • Participation
  • Planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Global and Planetary Change


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