Office of Research and Development Publications

A Meta-Analysis of Urban Climate Change Adaptation Planning in the U.S.


Hughes, S. A Meta-Analysis of Urban Climate Change Adaptation Planning in the U.S. Urban Climate. Elsevier Science, New York, NY, 14(Part 1):17-29, (2015).


An assessment of measures taken by municipalities for climate adaptation, including an assessment of factors that serve as motivations and barriers for municipal adaptation planning.


The concentration of people, infrastructure, and ecosystem services in urban areas make them prime sites for climate change adaptation. While advances have been made in developing frameworks for adaptation planning and identifying both real and potential barriers to action, empirical work evaluating urban adaptation planning processes has been relatively piecemeal. Existing assessments of current experience with urban adaptation provide necessarily broad generalizations based on the available peer-reviewed literature. This paper uses a meta-analysis of U.S. cities’ current experience with urban adaptation planning drawing from 54 sources that include peer-reviewed literature, government reports, white papers, and reports published by non-governmental organizations. The analysis specifically evaluates the institutional support structures being developed for urban climate change adaptation. The results demonstrate that adaptation planning is driven by a desire to reduce vulnerability and often catalyzes new collaborations and coordination mechanisms in urban governance. As a result, building capacity for urban climate change adaptation planning requires a focus not only on city governments themselves but also on the complex horizontal and vertical networks that have arisen around such efforts. Existing adaptation planning often lacks attention to equity issues, social vulnerability, and the influence of non-climatic factors on vulnerability. Engaging city governments and communities in adaptation planning – whether to initiate or expand such efforts -- may require that adaptation planning is framed to capitalize on their motivation to protect assets and reduce vulnerability.

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Record Details:

Product Published Date: 12/23/2015
Record Last Revised: 03/18/2016
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 311342