Informal adaptation transforms cities. It also challenges a growing emphasis on formal planning, says Marcus Moench.
The science is clear: the future holds more extreme climatic conditions. But what that means for people’s lives in specific locations, or for the globalised systems we all depend on, is uncertain. This is particularly true in the world’s growing urban areas, which also face rapid socio-economic and technological change.
To understand and to catalyse responses to the challenges climate change will bring, research and applied innovation are essential. Those challenges include building resilience to disruption, or enabling adaptation — and in some cases fostering a transformation of urban areas.
Elements of this are already occurring through governments’ strategic responses and, perhaps more importantly, as individuals and local organisations change their behaviour independently at the local level. But this ‘autonomous adaptive behaviour’ is poorly integrated with planning.