Magazine article Government Finance Review

Local Governments Evaluating Two Choices in Tackling Climate Adaption Planning

Magazine article Government Finance Review

Local Governments Evaluating Two Choices in Tackling Climate Adaption Planning

Article excerpt

Adapting to the impacts of human-caused climate change is a critical challenge facing cities worldwide. More than 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in cities, many of which are in especially vulnerable coastal areas, according to the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. Local climate adaptation planning is in its infancy, however, and cities must decide whether to take a narrow-scope approach focused solely on reducing risks from climate impacts, or a broad-scope approach, embed ding adaptation planning within wider-ranging community concerns. They also must decide whether or not to formally involve their planning agency in adaptation planning. The authors of the article used content analysis methods to assess a national sample of U.S. municipal plans and found that city plans with a narrow-scope approach focused on reducing risks perform better in terms of plan integration and include more land use policies that can steer development out of hazardous areas. Formal involvement of planning agencies in adaptation planning processes is associated with more plan integration, but not necessarily inclusion of more land-use policies.

The Harvard Business Review (HBR), in seeking to identify if there are any benefits to beginning with the narrow-scope approach, looked at more than 200 U.S. cities that have initiated climate change planning in some fashion. HBR found "clear benefits to starting narrowly, with a focus on connections to natural hazards. On average, narrow-scope plans cross-referenced more of the existing network of plans in the city and included more land use approaches effective at reducing long-term hazards risks. Land use planning steers development out of hazard areas while preserving natural landscape features, such as wetlands that store floodwater, as the most promising way to reduce most long-term risks."

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