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Barriers and opportunities for urban adaptation planning: analytical framework and evidence from cities in Latin America and Germany


  • Paul Lehmann


  • Miriam Brenck
  • Oliver Gebhardt
  • Sven Schaller
  • Elisabeth Süßbauer


This paper analyzes barriers and opportunities for effective adaptation planning in cities. In particular, we focus on the preparation and adoption of adaptation strategies and action plans by urban planners. For this purpose, we develop a two-tier framework of variables influencing decision-making. The framework emphasizes interaction between different commonly discussed categories of barriers (or opportunities) and their sources. We argue that whether or not urban planners take action to foster adaptation to climate change depends on three first-tier variables: information, resources, and incentives. In addition, we point out that each of these variables may itself be a function of a set of underlying second-tier variables, including actor-specific characteristics of the decision-maker, the institutional environment, and the natural and socio-economic environment. Within this framework, we specify barriers and opportunities for effective adaptation planning as hampering or promoting characteristics of these first- and second-tier variables. We apply and test the framework within the context of four case studies carried out in Lima (Peru), Santiago (Chile), Berlin and Sangerhausen (both Germany). We present anecdotal evidence, which we have gained from expert interviews in the cities. Our results indicate that the relevant categories of barriers are mainly the same across developing and developed countries. What differs is their severity. Moreover, we confirm the importance of the institutional context, including barriers and opportunities associated mainstreaming adaptation, multi-level governance and participation. Finally, our analysis reveals barriers that are specific for local or urban adaptation action, such as the strong dependency on the national regulatory framework. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Lehmann & Miriam Brenck & Oliver Gebhardt & Sven Schaller & Elisabeth Süßbauer, 2015. "Barriers and opportunities for urban adaptation planning: analytical framework and evidence from cities in Latin America and Germany," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 75-97, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:masfgc:v:20:y:2015:i:1:p:75-97
    DOI: 10.1007/s11027-013-9480-0

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gawel, Erik & Heuson, Clemens & Lehmann, Paul, 2012. "Efficient public adaptation to climate change: An investigation of drivers and barriers from a Public Choice perspective," UFZ Discussion Papers 14/2012, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
    2. Daniel Osberghaus & Astrid Dannenberg & Tim Mennel & Bodo Sturm, 2010. "The Role of the Government in Adaptation to Climate Change," Environment and Planning C, , vol. 28(5), pages 834-850, October.
    3. Thomas G Measham & Benjamin L Preston & Cassandra Brooke & Tim F Smith & Craig Morrison & Geoff Withycombe & Russell Gorddard, 2010. "Adapting to Climate Change Through Local Municipal Planning: Barriers and Opportunities," Socio-Economics and the Environment in Discussion (SEED) Working Paper Series 2010-05, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems.
    4. Falaleeva, Maria & O'Mahony, Cathal & Gray, Stefan & Desmond, Margaret & Gault, Jeremy & Cummins, Valerie, 2011. "Towards climate adaptation and coastal governance in Ireland: Integrated architecture for effective management?," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 784-793, December.
    5. Alistair Hunt & Paul Watkiss, 2011. "Climate change impacts and adaptation in cities: a review of the literature," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 104(1), pages 13-49, January.
    6. Klaus Eisenack & Rebecca Stecker, 2012. "A framework for analyzing climate change adaptations as actions," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 243-260, March.
    7. Heuson, Clemens & Gawel, Erik & Gebhardt, Oliver & Hansjürgens, Bernd & Lehmann, Paul & Meyer, Volker & Schwarze, Reimund, 2012. "Fundamental questions on the economics of climate adaptation: Outlines of a new research programme," UFZ Reports 05/2012, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ).
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    Cited by:

    1. Bhave, Ajay Gajanan & Conway, Declan & Dessai, Suraje & Stainforth, David A., 2017. "Barriers and opportunities for robust decision making approaches to support climate change adaptation in the developing world," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 68318, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Sining C. Cuevas, 2016. "The interconnected nature of the challenges in mainstreaming climate change adaptation: evidence from local land use planning," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 136(3), pages 661-676, June.
    3. repec:spr:masfgc:v:22:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1007_s11027-015-9697-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Cavalcante, Ana Helena A. P., 2015. "Barriers and opportunities for climate adaptation: The water crisis in Greater São Paulo," The Constitutional Economics Network Working Papers 04-2015, University of Freiburg, Department of Economic Policy and Constitutional Economic Theory.
    5. repec:spr:masfgc:v:22:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1007_s11027-015-9699-z is not listed on IDEAS


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