The political economy of urban climate adaptation and development planning in Surat, India

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This paper argues for a political economic approach to understanding climate change adaptation and development planning in an urban context. Based on field research conducted in Surat, India, across a period of two years, I illustrate how climate adaptation is rooted in preexisting and contextually specific urban political relationships that can be traced through the city's developmental history. Through assessing Surat's experience with recent industrialization, episodes of natural disasters, to more recent engagement with the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network, I highlight how adaptation planning, as well as how adaptation is integrated into urban development planning, occurs through processes of prioritizing adaptation against development needs and implementing options that are cocreated among public and civic actors. This case empirically shows how adaptation is mainstreamed into urban development planning, illustrates the trade-offs associated with how different urban actors plan and implement adaptation in the context of rapid industrialization, and assesses how internationally funded adaptation programs are operationalized in the context of local social and political realities.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-298
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Government and Policy
Issue number2
Early online date26 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • climate change adaptation, development, governance, India, urban planning