From Risk Governance to City-Citizen Collaboration: Capitalizing on Individual Adaptation to Climate Change

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Urban societies are increasingly affected by climatic variability and extremes. In theory, adaptation policy creates the conditions needed to support autonomous adaptation – or deliver public adaptation if autonomous adaptation fails to develop. However, little attention has been given to autonomous adaptation by private households and individuals, and how it is taken into account in cities’ strategic adaptation planning. Against this background, this paper examines the synergies between measures taken by city authorities and citizens, and, more specifically, how public adaptation planning enhances or inhibits private (individual) adaptation. Based on a literature review and an in-depth study of German municipalities, existing types of city–citizen interaction are systematized. The results show that targeted city–citizen collaboration for climate change adaptation is practically non-existent. City authorities rarely pay sufficient attention to financial and structural aid for individual adaptation. Conversely, the available municipal support for individual adaptation has little take-up by members of the public. Furthermore, urban policy and planning often counteract collaboration and the implementation of measures that meet citizens’ capacities and needs. The paper concludes that improving city–citizen collaboration for adaptation co-production is an important step in fostering transformative adaptation, if the barriers and driving forces identified in the study are addressed. The framework that is presented advances theory on city–citizen interactions for adaptation co-production, providing a basis for related analyses, action and further research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184–204
Number of pages21
JournalEnvironmental Policy and Governance
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Environmental Sciences


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