Governance Analysis Task Force
Governing Urban Resilience
Understanding the governance of urban climate resilience is a crucial aspect of the UREx SETS approach. While cities are increasingly leading the way in developing actions to address climate change, many of the expected risks from climate change, such as a greater frequency of extreme events (e.g., floods, heat, and drought), are too large and complex for city governments to address on their own. Developing resilience requires that multiple city stakeholders, including other governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, community groups, the private sector, and the scientific community, collaborate in sharing, planning, and implementing strategies for climate change adaptation and resilience. In addition, rapidly changing climate conditions challenge institutions to build capacities to learn, adapt, and make decisions under high uncertainty
Such collaborative governance approaches to build resilient futures for cities, while promising, face numerous barriers. These include:
- A tendency to work in different institutional silos and sectors,
- Institutional capacities and information systems that lack the ability to anticipate and develop strategies for urban resilience at very long-term time scales (e.g., 40-60 years from now),
- Inability to integrate multiple voices and knowledge systems needed to develop strategies that are resilient to extreme events but also meet the needs of the most vulnerable and marginal populations, now and in the future.
The Transitions and Implementation Working Group (TIWG) and the Governance Analysis Task Force (GATF) has been leading the analysis, comparison, and visualization of the data we have collected across all nine cities using stakeholder surveys and governance planning documents. As a key input to the scenario workshops, stakeholder surveys and governance document analysis also helps to develop city-specific themes pertinent to climate adaptation, sustainability and resilience and inform stakeholder recruitment. The surveys also identify existing collaborations and what new partnerships are needed to better coordinate climate resilience work across sectors.
Key questions driving governance analysis in our cities include:
- What type of actors and networks are involved in addressing resilience to extreme events? Which are not involved, but should be?
- How are different actors framing climate risks and the solutions and strategies they prefer to be integrated into public policy making and investments?
- What capacities do actors and organizations have at their disposal to manage transitions? What knowledge systems are coming to bear on climate resilience decisions?
- To what extent are modes of governance exhibiting elements of collaborative and adaptive governance?
We developed the UREx SRN Governance Survey as a scoping instrument to gain an appreciation of the city governance contexts and to analyze the extent to which actors, capacities, knowledge, and interests are steering governance in support of resilience and sustainability. The survey draws from multiple theoretical streams on governance of sustainability and resilience, including sustainability pathways, co-production, and adaptive governance. The survey consisted of forty-five questions and was implemented in the nine project cities between February 2017 to July 2019. The survey was distributed through an online platform (Survey Monkey) and was aimed at representatives of any formal or informal organization working on decisions and actions on urban climate resilience, including planning and development, infrastructure management, climate adaptation, and hazards and emergency management within the target spatial scale.
Governance Planning Documents
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 a codebook that helps identify social, ecological and technological (SETS) components of governance strategies and to further analyze and compare how network cities frame climate resilience.