Social, Ecological, and Technological Strategies for Climate Adaptation

Yeowon Kim, Arizona State University
Lelani Mannetti, Georgia State University
David M. Iwaniec, Georgia State University
Nancy B. Grimm, Arizona State University
Marta Berbés-Blázquez, Arizona State University
Samuel A. Markolf, Arizona State University

Originally published in:

Kim Y., Mannetti L.M., Iwaniec D.M., Grimm N.B., Berbés-Blázquez M., Markolf S. (2021) Social, Ecological, and Technological Strategies for Climate Adaptation. In: Hamstead Z.A., Iwaniec D.M., McPhearson T., Berbés-Blázquez M., Cook E.M., Muñoz-Erickson T.A. (eds) Resilient Urban Futures. The Urban Book Series. Springer, Cham.


Resilient cities are able to persist, grow, and even transform while keeping their essential identities in the face of external forces like climate change, which threatens lives, livelihoods, and the structures and processes of the urban environment (United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, How to make cities more resilient: a handbook for local government leaders. Switzerland, Geneva, 2017). Scenario development is a novel approach to visioning resilient futures for cities. As an instrument for synthesizing data and envisioning urban futures, scenarios combine diverse datasets such as biophysical models, stakeholder perspectives, and demographic information (Carpenter et al. Ecol Soc 20:10, 2015). As a tool to envision alternative futures, participatory scenario development explores, identifies, and evaluates potential outcomes and tradeoffs associated with the management of social–ecological change, incorporating multiple stakeholder’s collaborative subjectivity (Galafassi et al. Ecol Soc 22:2, 2017). Understanding the current landscape of city planning and governance approaches is important in developing city-specific scenarios. In particular, assessing municipal planning strategies through the lens of interactive social–ecological–technological systems (SETS) provides useful insight into the dynamics and interrelationships of these coupled systems (da Silva et al. Sustain Dev 4(2):125–145, 2012). An assessment of existing municipal strategies can also be used to inform future adaptation scenarios and strategic plans addressing extreme weather events. With the scenario development process guiding stakeholders in generating goals and visions through participatory workshops, the content analysis of governance planning documents from the SETS perspective provides key insight on specific strategies that have been considered (or overlooked) in cities. In this chapter, we (a) demonstrate an approach to examine how cities define and prioritize climate adaptation strategies in their governance planning documents, (b) examine how governance strategies address current and future climate vulnerabilities as exemplified by nine cities in North and Latin America where we conducted a content analysis of municipal planning documents, and (c) suggest a codebook to explore the diverse SETS strategies proposed to address climate challenges—specifically related to extreme weather events such as heat, drought, and flooding.