Roads to adaptation: Understanding adaptation planning of urban road infrastructure.
University of Cambridge
Department of Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Cañavera Herrera, J. S. (2020). Roads to adaptation: Understanding adaptation planning of urban road infrastructure. (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.50346
Urbanisation and growth of the global population places high demand on city administrations to play a leading role in the management of climate change in the 21st century. Additionally, several factors including heavy reliance on interconnected infrastructure, high population densities (together with large numbers of poor and elderly), and the concentration of cultural and economic assets make cities particularly threatened by climate change. Therefore, any actions undertaken in urban contexts will have a crucial role in the management of climate change risks. A recent special report from 2018 from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations (IPCC) confirms that adaptation efforts will be as important as mitigation efforts since we can no longer stop climate change from happening at least to some degree around the globe. Transport infrastructure forms part of the systems on which cities rely most heavily for their efficient functioning. Therefore, the adaptation of these systems to the changing climate is crucial for the success of cities in the future. However, adaptation of urban transport is still not well studied and there is a need for the development of useful adaptation guidelines for applying adaptive actions to transport infrastructure at the local level. This thesis presents a conceptual framework called the “Expanded Adaptation Action Cycles” (EAAC). This framework conceptualizes adaptation planning in cities as an iterative action-learning cycle. In each iteration of the planning cycle, decision-makers implement adaptation actions based on their current knowledge while, at the same time, they learn how adaptation can be better implemented in their systems in the next iteration. The framework recognises that adaptation can be implemented at different scales (i.e. resistance, incremental adaptation or transformational adaptation) depending on the level of risks expected, the amount of change desired in the system and the resources available. The framework provides an overview of how a city might go through an adaptation planning process. Additionally, this thesis demonstrates the practical application of the EAAC framework by using it as a diagnostic tool to assess where a city is in the adaptation planning cycle, reveal possible future pathways from the current position of a city in the adaptation planning process and identify barriers and opportunities to certain pathways. In this framework, barriers and opportunities are associated with information quality and availability, resources availability and incentives on which decision-makers have to act. A case study of the decision-making processes for the development and maintenance of road infrastructure in Bogotá, Colombia was conducted to demonstrate the practical utility of the EAAC framework. Forty semi-structured interviews conducted with key local actors and experts provided insight into Bogotá’s governance processes and the extent to which climate change adaptation is considered within the transport sector. The collection of evidence also included a critical analysis of local policy documents and technical reports. Transport planners in Bogotá are currently trying to increase their understanding of the possible impacts of climate change over its principal road infrastructure through a study called “Red Vial Vital”. The main adaptation actions proposed by the city are the use of “green infrastructure” and sustainable urban drainage systems. The analysis indicates that the city is currently at the early stages of its adaptation planning. The adaptation measures being considered suggest that, at most, the city is aiming for implementing incremental adaptation. Additionally, several barriers to effective adaptation planning in the city were identified. The analysis revealed that incomplete or unusable information about climate change and its effects, reduced availability of economic and human resources, and the lack of adequate incentives are hindering the incorporation of adaptation planning into the transport infrastructure planning processes of the city. Furthermore, the most influential underlying factors were associated with the institutional environment. This finding is consistent with what has been proposed by other authors. The EAAC framework contributes to climate change adaptation literature by providing a relatively simple, yet comprehensive, conceptualisation of adaptation planning. While urban road infrastructure forms the focus of this research, the framework provides the theoretical basis to understand how adaptation can be planned and incorporated into the planning and design processes of any sociotechnical system. The EAAC goes further than other available frameworks as it links together the concept of the adaptation cycle, scales of adaptation and the identification of barriers and opportunities; these are aspects that typically have been separately addressed in the literature. In its practical application, the EAAC framework is expected to be a useful diagnostic tool for transport planners and designers in other cities. This is because it can, first, provide the ability to understand the relative position of a city’s approach to adaptation planning within a wider spectrum of possibilities. Second, it can provide insight into future possible planning interventions and their possible impacts, existing barriers to and opportunities for effective adaptation planning, and the necessary steps to follow in the planning process. Finally, there is also the potential for using the EAAC framework to analyse adaptation planning in other sectors facing the challenge of preparing how to deal with the risks associated with climate change.
adaptation planning, urban transport infrastructure planning, climate change, adaptation barriers, adaptation opportunities
Beca Rodolfo Llinás (Fundación Ceiba), Cambridge Trust
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.50346
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