Perspective | Published:

Roadmap towards justice in urban climate adaptation research

Nature Climate Change volume 6, pages 131137 (2016) | Download Citation

  • A Corrigendum to this article was published on 25 May 2016

This article has been updated

Abstract

The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) highlighted the importance of cities to climate action, as well as the unjust burdens borne by the world's most disadvantaged peoples in addressing climate impacts. Few studies have documented the barriers to redressing the drivers of social vulnerability as part of urban local climate change adaptation efforts, or evaluated how emerging adaptation plans impact marginalized groups. Here, we present a roadmap to reorient research on the social dimensions of urban climate adaptation around four issues of equity and justice: (1) broadening participation in adaptation planning; (2) expanding adaptation to rapidly growing cities and those with low financial or institutional capacity; (3) adopting a multilevel and multi-scalar approach to adaptation planning; and (4) integrating justice into infrastructure and urban design processes. Responding to these empirical and theoretical research needs is the first step towards identifying pathways to more transformative adaptation policies.

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Change history

  • 26 April 2016

    In the version of this Perspective originally published, it was not acknowledged that this work was contributing to the ICTA 'Unit of Excellence'. This correction has been made to the online version.

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Acknowledgements

This paper is dedicated to JoAnn Carmin (1957–2014), Associate Professor of Environmental Policy and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). We are grateful to the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning for hosting the Carmin Memorial Symposium on Urban Climate Adaptation (December 2014), and to the many scholars, practitioners and students who participated in the symposium and contributed their insights. This work is contributing to the ICTA ‘Unit of Excellence’ (MINECO, MDM 2015-0552).

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massacusetts 20139, USA

    • Linda Shi
    •  & Jessica Debats
  2. Department of Geography, Planning, and International Development Studies, University of Amsterdam, Nieuwe Achtergracht 127, 1018 WS Amsterdam, Netherlands

    • Eric Chu
  3. Institute for Environmental Science and Technology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Cerdanyola del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain

    • Isabelle Anguelovski
  4. Centre Urbanisation Culture Société, Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, 385 Rue Sherbrooke Est, Montréal, Québec H2X 1E3, Canada

    • Alexander Aylett
  5. School of Architecture, Northeastern University, 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA

    • Kian Goh
  6. School of Public and International Affairs (0113), Architecture Annex/UAP, Virginia Tech, 140 Otey Street NW, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA

    • Todd Schenk
  7. Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, 195 Prospect Street, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, USA

    • Karen C. Seto
  8. Human Settlements Group, International Institute for Environment and Development, 80–86 Gray's Inn Road, London WC1X 8NH, UK

    • David Dodman
  9. Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department, eThekwini Municipality, PO Box 680, Durban 4000, South Africa

    • Debra Roberts
  10. Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, Brown University, 85 Waterman Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA

    • J. Timmons Roberts
  11. Department of Political Science, University of New Hampshire, 322 Horton Social Science Center, Durham, New Hampshire 03824, USA

    • Stacy D. VanDeveer

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Contributions

L.S. led the organization of the Carmin Memorial Symposium, the development of the paper, and together with E.C. drafted the introduction, third roadmap section and conclusion; I.A., J.D., and T.S. drafted the literature review; A.A. drafted the first roadmap section; K.C.S. drafted the second; K.G. drafted the fourth; all authors, especially D.D., D.R., J.T.R. and S.V., reviewed and edited the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Linda Shi.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2841

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