Research Topic

Adapting Cities for Transformative Climate Resilience: Lessons from the Field

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About this Research Topic

This Research Topic has been launched in collaboration with Rebecca McMillan and Joanna Kocsis of the University of Toronto.

Cities will play a pivotal role in global climate change adaptation. As the majority of the world’s population is now classified as urban, and with many cities located in ...

This Research Topic has been launched in collaboration with Rebecca McMillan and Joanna Kocsis of the University of Toronto.

Cities will play a pivotal role in global climate change adaptation. As the majority of the world’s population is now classified as urban, and with many cities located in coastal and low-lying areas, urban centers face serious climate change impacts like droughts, flooding, and extreme weather. They also hold significant potential for innovative responses to the climate crisis. There is a growing consensus, however, that it is not enough for the world’s cities to simply ‘climate proof’ by protecting existing infrastructures and development plans from climate impacts. This is because, as scholars argue, the current elite-driven urbanization processes both create runaway GHG emissions and make living conditions untenable for the urban poor and other marginalized groups, even in the absence of climate change. Climate change threatens to further exacerbate existing vulnerabilities associated with inadequate access to food, shelter, water and sanitation, and other entitlements. To adapt successfully to climatic changes, urban residents and leaders must therefore work together to address these underlying societal crises at the same time as they design and implement programs to protect people and places from extreme conditions. This demands rethinking resilience planning and policy to move beyond protecting the status quo and towards social transformation.

Researchers in both the global North and South are studying how different stakeholders and their networks can engage in transformational resilience at the urban-scale. These include, but are not limited to:
• Experiments with adaptive and participatory governance;
• Pro-poor ‘nature-based solutions’;
• Efforts to enhance urban livelihoods in the formal and informal sectors;
• Equitable and resilient strategies for housing, waste, and water and sanitation service provision;
• Citizen science;
• Disaster risk preparedness and responses;
• Alternative adaptation financing models, and;
• Activism and advocacy.

Providing concrete and successful examples of such endeavors from around the world is key to scaling up efforts, given the speed at which climate change is occurring. Many cities in the Global South, in particular, are already struggling with unprecedented heat, drought, and flood conditions simultaneously, without adequate resources or capacity to implement important adaptation measures.

This Research Topic will convene a range of researchers to submit papers that document lessons and best practices from their realms of experience. The goals of the Research Topic are to create opportunities for cross-national sharing among researchers and to document and disseminate a variety of timely and creative responses to this pressing international issue.


Keywords: Transformative, Climate Change, Adaptation, Cities, Inclusive


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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