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An Assessment Framework for Cities Coping with Climate Change: The Case of New York City and its PlaNYC 2030


  • Yosef Jabareen

    () (Faculty of Architecture and City planning; Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel)


Climate change and its resulting uncertainties challenge the concepts, procedures, and scope of conventional approaches to planning, creating a need to rethink and revise current planning methods. This paper proposes a new conceptual framework for assessing city plans based on the idea of sustainability and planning countering climate change. It applies this framework to assess the recent master plan for the city of New York City: PlaNYC 2030 . The framework consists of eight concepts that were identified through conceptual analyses of the planning and interdisciplinary literature on sustainability and climate change. Using the proposed conceptual framework to evaluate PlaNYC 2030 reveals some of the merits of the Plan. PlaNYC promotes greater compactness and density, enhanced mixed land use, sustainable transportation, greening, and renewal and utilization of underused land. With regard to the concept of uncertainty, it addresses future uncertainties related to climate change with institutional measures only. From the perspective of ecological economics, the Plan creates a number of mechanisms to promote its climate change goals and to create a cleaner environment for economic investment. It offers an ambitious vision of reducing emissions by 30% and creating a “greener, greater New York,” and links this vision with the international agenda for climate change. On the other hand, the assessment reveals that PlaNYC did not make a radical shift toward planning for climate change and adaptation. It inadequately addresses social planning issues that are crucial to New York City. NYC is “socially differentiated” in terms of the capacity of communities to meet climate change uncertainties, and the Plan fails to address the issues facing vulnerable communities due to climate change. The Plan calls for an integrative approach to climate change on the institutional level, but it fails to effectively integrate civil society, communities, and grassroots organizations into the process. The lack of a systematic procedure for public participation throughout the city’s neighborhoods and among different social groupings and other stakeholders is a critical shortcoming, particularly during the current age of climate change uncertainty. Practically, the proposed conceptual framework of evaluate appears to be an effective and constructive means of illuminating the Plan’s strengths and weaknesses, and appears to be an easy-to-grasp evaluation method, and should be easily understood and applied by scholars, practitioners and policy makers.

Suggested Citation

  • Yosef Jabareen, 2014. "An Assessment Framework for Cities Coping with Climate Change: The Case of New York City and its PlaNYC 2030," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(9), pages 1-22, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:6:y:2014:i:9:p:5898-5919:d:39913

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. van Geldrop, Jan & Withagen, Cees, 2000. "Natural capital and sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 445-455, March.
    2. W.Neil Adger, 2001. "Scales of governance and environmental justice for adaptation and mitigation of climate change," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(7), pages 921-931.
    3. Yosef Jabareen, 2004. "A knowledge map for describing variegated and conflict domains of sustainable development," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(4), pages 623-642.
    4. Paavola, Jouni & Adger, W. Neil, 2006. "Fair adaptation to climate change," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 594-609, April.
    5. Yosef Jabareen, 2008. "A New Conceptual Framework for Sustainable Development," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 179-192, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tony Prato, 2015. "Conceptual Framework for Assessing the Sustainability of Forest Fuel Reduction Treatments and Their Adaptation to Climate Change," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(4), pages 1-21, March.

    More about this item


    New York City; PlaNYC 2030; planning; plans; climate change; sustainability; adaptation; mitigation; risk;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products


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