Climate Adaptation Pathways for Cities


Urban change, in the form of population growth and decline, turnovers in government leadership, and land use changes, in conjunction with climate change impacts, put city infrastructure at risk. Urban climate adaptation pathways enable cities to determine the “sequences of actions which can be implemented progressively, depending on future dynamics” to adapt to climate change.

Climate adaptation pathways are often outlined in urban climate adaptation plans that:

  • provide direction and identify actions to be taken now and to be implemented in the future when certain events occur, or conditions emerge and under specific parameters.
  • Recognize conditions of uncertainty and how to incorporate flexibility in planning.
  • May or may not included guidelines for implementation.

In Canada, the federal government, provinces, and territories implement The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. Canadian municipalities, however, develop their own climate adaptation plans. The Climate Risk Institute, in partnership with the Canadian Institute of Planners, with funding from Natural Resources Canada, has developed an interactive document – Adaptation Resource Pathway for Planners (ARPP) – to help planners to navigate available resources about climate change adaptation and planning.

According to the UN report Cities Settlements and Key Infrastructure (AR66 Report Chapter 6.3, p. 942) “for all urban populations, both currently deployed and currently planned adaptations are not able to meet the current levels of risk associated with climate change.” In turn, climate adaptation plans must be buttressed by climate change mitigation practices and other efforts to prevent climate damage and loss.


By Leela Viswanathan


(Image Credit: Adrian Schwarz, Unsplash)