Moving beyond short-term coping and adaptation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Throughout human history, people have coped with, and adapted
to, their environment. This accumulated capacity at local level is increasingly recognized to be critical in improving resilience and transformation. Nevertheless, city dwellers’ coping and adaptive practices are little known, poorly documented and often not taken into account in the work of municipal authorities and aid organizations. Against this background, this study provides a systematic overview
of urban residents’ coping and adaptive practices, presents critical insights into their risk-reducing effects and discusses their role in the development of policies and projects to increase resilience. It shows that coping should not automatically be seen as maladaptive. The success or failure of urban societies in building resilience and moving towards transformation does not necessarily depend on the
effectiveness of individual coping strategies but on the flexibility and inclusiveness of coping/adaptation systems at the individual, household and community level (i.e. the combined set of strategies). Therefore, it is crucial to support the ability of urban communities to negotiate their needs and rights in order to increase the flexibility and inclusiveness of these systems and make them more viable in today’s context.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • community-based risk reduction, adaptive practice, adaptation, climate change, resilience, adaptive capacity, coping strategies, urban transformation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-111
JournalEnvironment & Urbanization
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014