Interfacing citizens’ and institutions’ practice and responsibilities for climate change adaptation

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Climate change poses a serious challenge to sustainable urban development, placing many cities at risk. Climatic conditions are changing to such an extent that the capacity of urban institutions and associated governance systems to deal with climatic extremes and variability is being reduced. New approaches for urban climate change adaptation are thus urgently needed.

There is an increasing consensus that local-level capacities are critical for successful adaptation to climate change and the achievement of sustainable development. However, knowledge about local-level capacities is scarce, and regulatory frameworks are often ambiguous in terms of assigning (complementary) responsibilities for adaptation to institutions and citizens. Against that background, the paper investigates the adaptive practice of Swedish citizens and how this relates to local municipalities’ adaptation efforts and to the ‘interface’ between citizens’ and institutions’ legal responsibilities. By theorising the interplay between the adaptive practice of citizens and institutions, it demonstrates that adaptive capacity at the local level does not automatically translate into adaptation itself, thus showing the requirement for planned and more complementary interventions. The outcomes suggest the need for more distributed urban risk governance systems and people-oriented planning to foster an adaptive and sustainable transformation of cities. The potential scope of action for more people-oriented adaptation planning is presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-91
JournalUrban Climate
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • Disaster risk reduction
  • People-oriented planning
  • Coping strategies
  • Adaptive practice
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Urban resilience and transformation


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