Making climate adaptation work : strategies for resource constrained South Asian mega-cities
Author(s)Dutta-Koehler, Madhu Chhanda
Strategies for resource constrained South Asian mega-cities
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
Lawrence E. Susskind.
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This dissertation compares the responses of Dhaka, Bangladesh and Kolkata, India to the serious challenges posed by climate change, particularly in the water sector. Drawing on the theories of "adaptation as development" and cross-case analyses of ongoing planning initiatives in these two bellwether cities, this dissertation explores the factors that promote or hinder successful climate action. This work identifies practical, less resource-intensive adaptation strategies suited to the context of urban South Asia, where the findings suggest that, given the absence of dedicated adaptation planning at the city level, the most effective approaches are those that integrate both development and adaptation criteria. Resources allocated for local development can thus simultaneously address adaptation needs without substantial additional investments. Moreover, since such efforts are already part of ongoing planning initiatives, they obviate the need for more extensive "specialized adaptation" planning and technical expertise. These actions may thereby reduce the vulnerabilities of urban residents in these most threatened regions of the world. Drawing upon over ninety in-depth interviews, primary documents, firsthand observation, relevant scholarship, and three emblematic, developmentally oriented project case studies that address the cities' most urgent climate risks in water, flood and wetlands management, this research proposes a "contingent adaptation" approach as best-suited to such resource-constrained environments. Such an approach has the ability to overcome inherent local resource constraints, institutional limitations, while increasing the likelihood of adoption of adaptation-oriented projects. This work identifies several factors-among them, developing collaborative partnerships to bridge technical deficits, reforming local organizational structures to generate internal resources, and building political consensus for climate action-as essential for successful climate adaptation. This work seeks to provide a theoretical framework for effectively implementing adaptation-related local planning initiatives while building broader support for substantial climate action. Such contingent adaptation approaches may thereby provide a blueprint for immediate, proactive, and cost-effective practical applications in similar cities in South Asia and in comparable developing regions.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2013.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 277-329).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.