Inclusive approaches to urban climate adaptation planning and implementation in the Global South

Eric Chu, Isabelle Anguelovski, JoAnn Carmin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


© 2015 Taylor & Francis. As cities increasingly engage in climate adaptation planning, many are seeking to promote public participation and facilitate the engagement of different civil society actors. Still, the variations that exist among participatory approaches and the merits and tradeoffs associated with each are not well understood. This article examines the experiences of Quito (Ecuador) and Surat (India) to assess how civil society actors contribute to adaptation planning and implementation. The results showcase two distinct approaches to public engagement. The first emphasizes participation of experts, affected communities, and a wide array of citizens to sustain broadly inclusive programmes that incorporate local needs and concerns into adaptation processes and outcomes. The second approach focuses on building targeted partnerships between key government, private, and civil society actors to institutionalize robust decision-making structures, enhance abilities to raise funds, and increase means to directly engage with local community and international actors. A critical analysis of these approaches suggests more inclusive planning processes correspond to higher climate equity and justice outcomes in the short term, but the results also indicate that an emphasis on building dedicated multi-sector governance institutions may enhance long-term programme stability, while ensuring that diverse civil society actors have an ongoing voice in climate adaptation planning and implementation. Policy relevance Many local governments in the Global South experience severe capacity and resource constraints. Cities are often required to devolve large-scale planning and decision-making responsibilities, such as those critical to climate adaptation, to different civil society actors. As a result, there needs to be more rigorous assessments of how civil society participation contributes to the adaptation policy and planning process and what local social, political, and economic factors dictate the way cities select different approaches to public engagement. Also, since social equity and justice are key indicators for determining the effectiveness and sustainability of adaptation interventions, urban adaptation plans and policies must also be designed according to local institutional strengths and civic capacities in order to account for the needs of the poor and most vulnerable. Inclusivity, therefore, is critical for ensuring equitable planning processes and just adaptation outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-392
JournalClimate Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2016


  • civil society
  • climate adaptation
  • inclusion
  • justice
  • participation
  • urban planning


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