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Exploring the relationships between urbanization trends and climate change vulnerability

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  • Matthias Garschagen

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  • Patricia Romero-Lankao

Abstract

There is increasing scientific and political interest in the links between urbanization and human vulnerability to climate change. However, our literature review shows that the existing scholarship has largely focused on exposure resulting from urbanization, while other dimensions of urban vulnerability such as sensitivity or capacity to cope and adapt have been insufficiently represented or understood. Furthermore, most attention has been given to the negative effects of urbanization, while opportunities for vulnerability reduction have been underemphasized. Therefore, this paper takes a broader perspective to explore key relationships between urbanization, economic development and socio-economic vulnerability on a global scale. Using data with national resolution, we applied a clustering approach to identify ten country groups sharing similar patterns of urbanization and national income. We then explored associations between these country groups and selected indicators of exposure, sensitivity, coping capacity, and adaptive capacity drawing upon data from the World Risk Index. Our findings suggest that countries with rapid urbanization and economic transformation face significant challenges with respect to sensitivity and the lack of capacities. Additionally, these challenges tend to be greater the lower the income of the respective country. Yet, at the same time, urbanization can be a main driver for enhancing response capacity. The analysis suggests that urbanization can, hence, have nuanced effects on overall vulnerability. We argue that climate change science needs to be more balanced in terms of acknowledging and examining the different possible pathways of vulnerability effects related to urbanization. The country group analysis can provide a first entry point. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Suggested Citation

  • Matthias Garschagen & Patricia Romero-Lankao, 2015. "Exploring the relationships between urbanization trends and climate change vulnerability," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 133(1), pages 37-52, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:133:y:2015:i:1:p:37-52
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-013-0812-6
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Matthias Garschagen, 2013. "Resilience and organisational institutionalism from a cross-cultural perspective: an exploration based on urban climate change adaptation in Vietnam," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 67(1), pages 25-46, May.
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    6. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Günther Fink, 2008. "Urbanization and the Wealth of Nations," PGDA Working Papers 3008, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
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    1. Adriana Keating & Karen Campbell & Reinhard Mechler & Piotr Magnuszewski & Junko Mochizuki & Wei Liu & Michael Szoenyi & Colin McQuistan, 2017. "Disaster resilience: what it is and how it can engender a meaningful change in development policy," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 35(1), pages 65-91, January.
    2. Henry He Huang & Joseph Kerstein & Chong Wang, 2018. "The impact of climate risk on firm performance and financing choices: An international comparison," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 49(5), pages 633-656, July.
    3. Camila Flórez Bossio & James Ford & Danielle Labbé, 2019. "Adaptive capacity in urban areas of developing countries," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 157(2), pages 279-297, November.
    4. Yi Ge & Wen Dou & Ning Liu, 2017. "Planning Resilient and Sustainable Cities: Identifying and Targeting Social Vulnerability to Climate Change," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(8), pages 1-19, August.
    5. Cheng He & Liguo Zhou & Weichun Ma & Yuan Wang, 2019. "Spatial Assessment of Urban Climate Change Vulnerability during Different Urbanization Phases," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(8), pages 1-19, April.
    6. Wanlu Liu & Lulu Liu & Jiangbo Gao, 2020. "Adapting to climate change: gaps and strategies for Central Asia," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 25(8), pages 1439-1459, December.
    7. Patricia Romero-Lankao & Daniel M. Gnatz & Olga Wilhelmi & Mary Hayden, 2016. "Urban Sustainability and Resilience: From Theory to Practice," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(12), pages 1-19, November.

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