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Introduction

This first step introduces week 3, by placing it in the context of the previous weeks, and presenting the final steps of this course.
Picture of Cape Town by day, mountains in the background.
© University of Groningen

Welcome to the third and last week of your course. This is perhaps the most important one, as it explores how to put into action what you have learned in the past two weeks.

In Week 1 we saw how urbanization offers both challenges and opportunities for adapting to a changing climate. One major challenge is rapid city expansion into areas with high exposure to climate related hazards. This produces a particularly high risk for vulnerable communities. An opportunity arises from the fact that much housing and infrastructure still has to be built. We have a chance to get that right.

Week 2 showed some of the complexities involved. You should now have a better conceptual understanding of complex urban systems and the value of their physical, social, and spatial typologies for climate change adaptation in cities. You also learned how we can use digital information and communication technologies (ICT) such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics, or cyber-physical systems to design so-called climate-smart cities. When focusing on climate-proofing urban systems, however, it can sometimes be easy to lose sight of the fact that these complex systems also consist of living beings, whose lives are ultimately impacted by climate change and climate proofing. Inclusive decision making, which is responsive to people’s concerns, is therefore paramount. This raises questions about the governance of urban climate adaptation.

Week 3 now explores precisely how urban governance can take these dynamics of urbanization and complex urban systems into account, and thus contribute to successful climate adaptation. Remember from the previous weeks that urban governance is not limited to municipal administrations, but involves both public and private actors, from the global to the local level. As the Global Centre on Adaptation emphasized, all need to be involved if we are to achieve comprehensive and timely climate adaptation.

Accordingly, the third course week will first give you a detailed overview of global adaptation policy initiatives and key actors in adaptation governance. You will then discuss different options for integrated and inclusive adaptation governance, together with challenges and ‘barriers’ for urban adaptation based on practical examples from West Africa.

Before we explore these topics further, perhaps you would like to share with the others which role you already play (or could see for yourself) in urban adaptation governance, whether as a private citizen or in some kind of official capacity at any level.

© University of Groningen
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Sustainable Cities: Governing Urban Adaptation Under Climate Change

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