Comparative Urban Futures Task Force
Task Force Leads: Lelani Mannetti and Yeowon Kim
Facing increased uncertainty regarding extreme climate events, a need lies in comparatively analyzing visions of resilient urban futures to help identify not only similarities and differences within and across cities, but also synergies.
As a network, the UREx SRN builds on empirical data to support existing and emerging initiatives, and incorporates fundamental and practical strategies to promote urban resilience from a social-ecological-technological perspective. One facet of promoting a transition to urban systems that are resilient as a result of their flexible, adaptable, equitable, and ecologically and culturally sound infrastructure, is to capture the values and visions of various stakeholders.
Thus, the overarching aim of the Comparative Urban Futures Task Force (CUF TF), is to collate data produced during the scenario workshops, where desirable, resilient futures and the transition pathways needed to actualize them are co-produced by the network cities. The CUF TF then explores how the alternative futures envisioned by multiple stakeholders are congruent, aligned, or distinct across UREx study cities. Task force members use a variety of entry points, including governance planning documents, vulnerability analysis results, scenario themes and pathways, a multi-criteria assessment tool, spatial data, etc. Generally, we aim to use existing data as efficiently and effectively as possible while promoting researcher interests, collaboration, inclusivity and the goals of UREx SRN throughout.
Tools and Products
Governance Document Analysis
Led by Lelani Mannetti and David Iwaniec
As a key input to the scenario workshops, governance document analysis helps develop city-specific themes pertinent to climate adaptation, sustainability and resilience. By analyzing policy documents and the specific goals, strategies and actions put forth by city planners to deal with climate extremes, we gain insight into current governance approaches, as well as adaptation scenarios and strategic plans. Generally, governance document analysis helps us understand how cities are framing resilience. Additionally, the analysis helps identify strategies to seed the conversation at workshops, as well as to create a baseline scenario to compare all envisioned scenarios, referred to as strategic scenarios. Furthermore, strategies extracted from governance documents can be assessed using the Code Book to further analyze and compare how network cities frame climate resilience.
Quantitative Spatial Modeling: Land use/land cover maps
Led by Timon McPhearson
The modeling team reviews the strategies co-produced during the Scenarios Working Group visioning process. Quantitative, qualitative, spatial and temporal visions are highlighted and translated into land-use change rules necessary to simulate the alternative future scenarios that have been envisioned. The synthesized land-use change rules and transition rates (e.g., increase of greenspace area by 2.9% per year up to 2020, see Hermosillo example below), in addition to the business-as-usual scenarios (an extrapolation based on city planning documents) are produced for each city. The land-use model is a raster-based cellular automata that is calibrated using at least two observed land-use maps for different dates and a number of land-use change causative factors (e.g., DEM, slope, roads, protected areas, etc.). The main data used to build the specific rules for each future vision are scenarios inventory tables and inventory maps produced by stakeholders during the workshops.
Qualitative Multi-Criteria Assessment Tool: RESQ
Led by Marta Berbés-Blázquez
Based on key outputs of the scenario workshop, the Resilience, Equity, Sustainability Qualitative (RESQ) assessment tool uses strategies co-produced by participants envisioning adaptive and transformative futures. By determining “key drivers” or “scenario elements”, a group of researchers identifies defining features of each scenario theme. Each of these defining features are then scored individually to assess how they contribute to resilience, equity and sustainability in each of the network cities.
“Future Ecosystem Services”
Elser et al.
(Baltimore, Miami, New York City, Phoenix, Syracuse, Hermosillo, Mexico, Valdivia, Chile and San Juan, Puerto Rico)
The provision of a robust suite of ecosystem services is seen as increasingly important to ensure desirable futures. Scenario planning is one tool that can be used to help envision what different futures might look like, depending on the pathways we take and the choices that we make. Although there has been a lot of research illustrating how scenario planning could be used to change the provision of ecosystem services in the future, there is a gap in the literature about what sorts of factors drive the choices that participants make when envisioning future scenarios. The overarching question of this group is: How do cities from diverse biophysical-social-cultural-technological contexts differ in the ecosystem services from green infrastructure they prioritize in future visioning to address long-term future urban resilience? Some preliminary results show that scenarios explicitly focused on addressing extreme weather events used more green infrastructure strategies and mentioned more regulating ecosystem services than scenarios without an extreme weather focus.
“Co-produced SETS Strategies Analysis: Tell me what you want”
Berbés-Blázquez et al.
(All network cities)
Current and projected climatic trends highlight the need for transformative change to stay within a safe operating space for humanity. In the absence of strong international agreements, many municipal governments are leading the efforts to build resilience to climate change in general and to extreme weather events in particular. However, it is notoriously difficult to guide and activate processes of change in complex adaptive systems such as cities. Participatory scenario planning with city professionals and members of civil society provides an opportunity to co-produce positive visions of the future. Yet, not all visions are created equal. In this paper, we introduce a framework for characterizing resilience, equity, and sustainability for alternative scenario visions. We then apply the framework to analyze scenario visions created in participatory workshops. Our analysis allows us to compare not just alternative visions, but also key pathways (and potential obstacles) toward stated future goals, as well as implicit and explicit tradeoffs.
“Comparative Flood Resilience: from past failures to future strategies”
Kim et al.
(Baltimore, New York City, Phoenix, Miami)
By evaluating potential outcomes associated with social-ecological change, participatory scenarios provide valuable knowledge on regional flood mitigation. This study investigates flood mitigation strategies extracted from participatory scenarios of UREx cities including Baltimore, Miami, New York City, and Phoenix and compare how stakeholders describe future flood resilience in each city. Furthermore, this study explores the failure cases of existing flood mitigation solutions where the scenarios are spatially focused, and demonstrates the opportunities and barriers of adopting strategies suggested by the scenarios. The result shows that the flood mitigation strategies developed through the participatory scenarios are similar across four cities as cities understand the importance of incorporating a social, ecological, and technological systems (SETS) approach in all aspects of flood resilience.