• University of Groningen logo
  • Global Center of Adaptation Logo

Sustainable Cities: Governing Urban Adaptation Under Climate Change

Discover expert governance strategies for preparing urban areas to face the challenges posed by climate change.

911 enrolled on this course

Sustainable Cities: Governing Urban Adaptation Under Climate Change

Learn how cities can successfully adapt to environmental change

Ongoing rapid urbanisation in combination with climate change and environmental degradation is presenting humanity with considerable challenges. Half of the global population now lives in cities and urban environments are facing serious challenges in dealing with climate change related risks, including the risks posed by more extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and heat waves, as well as rising sea levels.

Urbanisation is a leading driver of environmental change and resource depletion – a trend that will only accelerate as cities grow ever bigger.

In this course, you will investigate how governance strategies and policies for making cities more sustainable and resilient in the face of increasing climate risks can be financed and implemented.

Explore how cities can adapt to climate change

You will analyse the physical, social, and spatial processes that are shaping current climate-related risks in urban environments.

Using real-world case studies, you will investigate and discuss the governance challenges posed by successful urban adaptation to climate change.

Discover how to achieve sustainable urban development

Focusing on the role of governance and urban planning, you will identify how targeted adaptation strategies and finance can help build urban resilience and adapt urban systems to complex risks, thereby moving urban spaces towards a more sustainable future.

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to apply targeted governance strategies to urban environments facing the challenges of a changing climate.

Download video: standard or HD

Skip to 0 minutes and 3 seconds More than half of the global population now lives in urban areas. The continual growth of cities around the world presents us with major challenges. In this course, you will explore the dynamics behind growing urban areas. How can flows of people, natural resources, goods and services be governed in a more inclusive and sustainable way? And how can cities manage risks posed by climate change, such as rising sea levels, urban heat waves, floods, which place increased stress on urban infrastructures. Based on practical examples, such as flood risk management in African cities, you will familiarise yourself with effective strategies to navigate the challenges of urban adaptation.

Skip to 0 minutes and 54 seconds Major cities, such as Tokyo, Jakarta, Dali are examples that we think of if urban areas are mentioned in the news media. Yet smaller and medium sized cities are also growing at fast rates and drive global urbanisation. Nevertheless, despite the complexity of adaptation in different urban environments, local communities are at the heart of adaptation. And people are the most powerful agents of change. This online course on governing urban adaptation was created by an experienced multidisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Groningen Campus Fryslan in cooperation with this Global Center on Adaptation. If you’re curious to discover more about tackling adaptation challenges in urban areas, join us for this course.

What topics will you cover?

  • Climate risks and adaptation in cities
  • Key drivers of urbanisation
  • Telecoupling
  • Urban physical, social and spatial systems
  • Urban planning
  • The role of new digital technologies in urban adaptation
  • Opportunities and barriers for urban adaptation governance
  • Case studies of real-life adaptation challenges in local communities

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe the human, ecological, and physical processes that are shaping climate related risks in urban environments.
  • Assess risks and barriers to successful urban adaptation based on concrete case studies.
  • Identify how urban climate governance and urban planning can help build resilience and advance urban adaptation.
  • Apply targeted governance strategies for climate adaptation in urban environments.

Who is the course for?

This course would benefit bachelor students or graduates with an interest in adaptive governance and sustainable urban development. It would also appeal to professionals with a public or private sector background and an interest in building skills in tackling climate change.

Who will you learn with?

Assistant Professor Governance & Innovation, University of Groningen

Research focus on climate adaptation, governance, technology, innovation


Lecturer and doctoral researcher
Governance & Innovation, Campus Fryslân, University of Groningen

Cyan Centre on Climate Change Adaptation (C4A) member


Who developed the course?

University of Groningen

The University of Groningen is a research university with a global outlook, deeply rooted in Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands.

Global Center on Adaptation

The international organization GCA acts as a solutions broker to accelerate adaptation action, partnering with the public and private sector to learn and work together for a climate-resilient future.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Learner reviews

Learner reviews cannot be loaded due to your cookie settings. Please and refresh the page to view this content.

Join this course

Start this course for free, upgrade for extra benefits, or buy Unlimited to access this course and hundreds of other short courses for a year.



Join free and you will get:

  • Access to this course for 5 weeks



Upgrade this course and you will get:

  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • Access to this course’s tests as well as a print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible


$279.99 for one year

Buy Unlimited and you will get:

  • Access to this course, and hundreds of other FutureLearn short courses and tests for a year
  • A printable digital Certificate of Achievement on all short courses once you’re eligible
  • The freedom to keep access to any course you've achieved a digital Certificate of Achievement on, for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn
  • The flexibility to complete your choice of short courses in your own time within the year

Find out more about upgrades or Unlimited.

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...

You can use the hashtag #FLurbanadaptation to talk about this course on social media.