Implementing Urban Transformations to Sustainability: A Review on Transformative Adaptation Practices

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 14:45
Oral Presentation
Florian KOCH, HTW Berlin - University of Applied Sciences for Engineering and Economics, Germany
Recently adopted global political sustainability agendas such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) consider cities as ‘powerful actors’ with a role to play in seeking a more sustainable and resilient world. There is agreement on the need to transform existing urban development patterns and on the strategic role of local governments to achieve ambitious sustainability goals. How these urban transformations should actually take place remains rather blurry and requires further discussion.

Adaptation to climate change is a core dimension of transformations to sustainability. In recent policy documents, the need for a transformative adaptation, which requires radical, non-linear changes is highlighted (EEA 2017, Revi et al. 2014). Transformative adaptation tries not only to reduce the increasing risks related with climate change, but focuses also on further causes of risk such as poverty, lack of institutional capacity or knowledge. This way, transformative adaptation is highly politically as it challenges the status quo and existing power structures. Furthermore it needs to be considered that adaptation measures can reduce inner-urban socio-economic differences relating to environmental risks and vulnerability. At the same time, adaptation measures have also the potential to increase existing inequalities (maladaptation). This makes decision-making processes on adaptation difficult as different objectives and trade-offs need to be considered (Anguelovski et al. 2016).

In my presentation, I will analyze how adaptation processes in different cities took place and whether a transformative agenda has been implemented. Based on an extensive literature review on empirical cases, the key factors for implementing transformative adaptation policies as well as the obstacles are identified. The aim of the presentation is to contribute to a better understanding of the gaps between ambitious transformative policy agendas and the implementation of these agendas on the ground.