ISSUE NOTE 2016 GGSD Forum
9 & 10 November OECD, Paris
Spatial planning policies for resilience to natural hazards and extreme events
OECD GREEN GROWTH AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT FORUM The GGSD Forum is an OECD initiative aimed at providing a dedicated space for multi-disciplinary dialogue on green growth and sustainable development. It brings together experts from different policy fields and disciplines and provides them with an interactive platform to encourage discussion, facilitate the exchange of knowledge and ease the exploitation of potential synergies. By specifically addressing the horizontal, multi-disciplinary aspects of green growth and sustainable development, the GGSD Forum constitutes a valuable supplement to the work undertaken in individual government ministries. The GGSD Forum also enables knowledge gaps to be identified and facilitates the design of new works streams to address them.
Authorship & Acknowledgements This issue note was prepared for the 2016 GGSD Forum to steer discussions during the conference, around the theme of “Urban green growth, spatial planning and land use”. In particular it gives input to the Session on “Resilient infrastructure: innovative approaches”. This issue note was prepared by Dr. Jeremy Carter (University of Manchester, United Kingdom), with editorial guidance by Michael Mullan, Walid Oueslati, Lola Vallejo and Jaco Tavenier of the OECD Environment Directorate. It was produced under the supervision of Kumi Kitamori, Head, Green Growth and Global Relations Division, the OECD Environment Directorate. The author would also like to thank Dr. Angela Connelly of the University of Manchester for her valuable comments on an earlier version of this Issue Paper. Lupita Johanson designed the cover page. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views of the OECD member countries.
Table of contents Executive Summary.........................................................................................................................................4 1. Introduction and context ............................................................................................................................6 2. Defining risk and resilience to extreme weather and climate change........................................................7 2.1 Defining and understanding weather and climate hazards and extreme events.................................8 Figure 1: Economic losses from climatological, meteorological and hydrological disasters, 1980 – 2014 ....................................................................................................8 2.2 Weather and climate hazards and extreme events– the land use dimension .....................................9 3. The potential role of spatial planning in building urban resilience to extreme weather and climate change .......................................................................................................................................10 Table 1: Potential resilience functions of different spatial planning approaches. ...................................12 Table 2: Examples of the role of spatial planning in reducing risk to extreme weather and climate hazards......................................................................................................................................................13 4. Exploring the application and effectiveness of spatial planning as a resilience building tool ..................14 4.1 Spatial planning and resilience in practice .........................................................................................14 4.2 Considering the effectiveness of spatial planning in building resilience to climate change ..............14 4.3 Considering costs and benefits ...........................................................................................................15 4.4 Factors limiting the application and effectiveness of spatial planning as a resilience building tool .....................................................................................................................16 5. Assessing the adaptability of spatial planning systems ............................................................................18 Table 3: Exploring the potential adaptability of spatial planning approaches. ........................................19 6. Enhancing the role of spatial planning in building resilience to extreme weather and climate change .......................................................................................................................................20 6.1 Complexity of systems and processes ................................................................................................20 6.2 Ever-present uncertainty ....................................................................................................................20 6.3 Evolving spatial planning as a resilience building approach ...............................................................21 7. Conclusions and recommendations ..........................................................................................................22 Policy recommendation 1: Build the evidence base on spatial planning and resilience ..........................22 Policy recommendation 2: Integrate resilience alongside other spatial planning agendas .....................23 Policy recommendation 3: Embed spatial planning within a broader resilience building policy framework ................................................................................................................................................24 Policy recommendation 4: Focus spatial planning on building ‘general resilience’ .................................24 References ....................................................................................................................................................26
Executive Summary As the impacts of climate change are increasingly observed, and the prospect of more rapid change over the coming decades is acknowledged, the scientific imperative to adapt and build resilience to extreme weather and climate change is crystallizing. Here, resilience concerns building capacity to plan for, react to and recover from related hazards such as flooding, heatwaves, droughts or forest fires. Consensus is emerging that this is a crucial agenda for enhancing economic competitiveness and quality of life. However, as observed by the Royal Society (2014:7): â€œSocieties are not resilient to extreme weather today.â€? Policy frameworks are being developed at different spatial scales in response to this challenge. For example, the EU strategy on adaptation to climate change was adopted in 2013, and many countries now have climate change adaptation and resilience strategies. Further, major global cities are developing proactive adaptation and resilience strategies and responses, perhaps recognizing the competitive advantage that this will bring to them in a future impacted by climate change. Land use change is a key factor in enhancing risks and economic losses associated with weather and climate hazards and extreme events. This indicates that spatial planning, which influences the nature, scale and location of new development and land use change, has a potentially significant role to play in reducing risk and building the resilience to these events. A range of spatial planning approaches can be applied to this end. If resilience is incorporated into spatial planning legislation, this can encourage related principles and activities to cascade through policies, strategies and actions. Relevant examples include incorporating zoning policies within development plans to steer new buildings and infrastructure away from locations potentially exposed to climate change hazards, and placing conditions on new developments to incorporate measures such as permeable paving and increasing green cover to reduce risks from hazards. Although there is general agreement spatial planning can, in theory, support objectives linked to adapting and building resilience to the changing climate, it is more difficult to find evidence that this potential is being translated into practice. This is due in part to the novelty of the agenda, with resilience in particular standing as a relatively recent addition to the planning lexicon. It is also apparent that data gaps and methodological difficulties make assessing the costs and benefits of adaptation and resilience measures a challenging exercise. Despite this, studies do appear to support the general conclusion that adaptation and resilience measures can be beneficial in economic terms. Also, there are examples of good practice where spatial planning approaches are focusing on building resilience to extreme weather and climate change, especially in cities and urban areas. There are a number of factors that act as barriers to further progressing the contribution of spatial planning to resilience building. These include tangible issues such as resource availability and access to and quality of data, and those relating to the operation of the planning system including a lack of integration between spatial scales and sectors and the political nature of the planning system. But there are also more challenging systemic issues which concern the complexities and uncertainties that characterise the relationship between extreme weather and climate change risks and responses. Indeed, in cities land cover evolves over time in response to numerous interacting drivers of change, including economic growth and decline, demographic change, and the availability of natural resources. Evolving land use patterns will influence how cities will experience and respond to the changing climate. 4
These factors must be considered when determining how the role of spatial planning in building resilience to extreme weather and climate change could be strengthened. Strategies and responses, particularly those involving long term modifications to the built environment and urban landscapes, could usefully build in flexibility and avoid ‘lock in’ to approaches that may not be optimal in resilience terms. Here, it is important for spatial planning to embrace the potential for and desirability of change. This has been described as an ‘evolutionary’ approach to resilience, which acknowledges and responds to the dynamic and unpredictable nature of extreme weather and climate change risks. This way of thinking opens up scope to embrace transformative change to development and land use. Returning to the pre-hazard state, or ‘status quo’, may not be the best approach where this may be undermining resilience. Put simply, resilience should not only mean ‘bouncing back’ from disturbances, but also the capacity to ‘bounce forwards’ to strengthen future resilience. In order to support activities to progress this agenda, and to strengthen the contribution of spatial planning to building resilience to extreme weather and climate change, four recommendations are proposed. These are transferable, and are therefore valid in OECD countries and other nations and contexts. 1. Build the evidence base on spatial planning and resilience: There is currently a lack of knowledge and data on the application and effectiveness of spatial planning as a resilience building tool. Data is needed to support decision makers and practitioners working to apply spatial planning approaches and instruments. Resources should be dedicated to enhancing understanding of the implementation of measures in practice. 2. Integrate resilience alongside other spatial planning agendas: Building resilience to extreme weather and climate change may be marginalised by high profile spatial planning agendas such as economic development or housing growth. This can lead, for example, to development taking place in areas potentially exposed to flooding thereby increasing the number of assets and properties at risk. A stronger case needs to be developed for positioning extreme weather and climate resilience as a core element of spatial planning, complementing other socio-economic agendas for mutual benefit. 3. Embed spatial planning within a broader resilience building policy framework: Spatial planning is only one dimension of reducing extreme weather and climate risk, and it is important to recognise that it is not possible to ‘plan out’ all risks. It is necessary, therefore, to situate spatial planning as one aspect of a broader resilience policy framework. A suite of complementary responses are needed including emergency planning and community development for example. Ultimately, there is a need to encourage the ‘mainstreaming’ of resilience thinking into a range of policy areas. 4. Focus spatial planning on building ‘general resilience’: Resilience has been picked up by spatial planning policy makers and practitioners as an overarching concept that is focused on enhancing capacity to manage risk from a wide range of different socioeconomic and biophysical hazards and pressures. ‘General resilience’ principles and approaches that can help to address extreme weather and climate change, alongside other hazards and pressures, should be encouraged. They include fostering a diversity of response approaches, building capacity to regenerate following a hazard event and progressing social themes such as building leadership and trust.
1. Introduction and context Economic losses from extreme weather events have increased over recent years, globally (Mohleji and Pielke 2014) and in Europe (Hov et al 2012), with these events also harming human health and quality of life. With increasing attention being paid by insurance and reinsurance companies to extreme weather and climate change, this agenda could increasingly impact on future economic competitiveness of cities and nations. Indeed, the European Commission warns that: â€œAs a result of increasing climate risks insurance might become unavailable in certain areasâ€? (European Commission 2013: 29). Given the rising economic costs of extreme weather, in addition to their negative social and environmental implications, it is necessary to build resilience to these events. This is particularly important considering that extreme weather events are likely to become more frequent and intense as a result of climate change. The rise in economic losses is in part due to development activities that have increased the number of building and infrastructure assets, in addition to vulnerable people and communities, in areas potentially exposed to hazards such as flooding and heatwaves. The European Environment Agency (EEA 2012) has stated that increased exposure of buildings and infrastructure is a key driver of projected increases in climate change impacts. In principle, this places spatial planning, which influences the location and character of development and land use change, in a strong position to support building resilience to extreme weather and climate change. However, this is a relatively new theme for spatial planning and knowledge and experience is not yet widespread. Despite its novelty, and perhaps as a result of its broad scope and potential to be adapted to different themes, resilience is becoming an attractive concept for the spatial planning community. Indeed, within spatial planning, resilience has been applied to the extreme weather and climate change agenda, in addition to an expanding range of other themes including flooding and drought, terrorism, and economic and regional decline (White and Oâ€™Hare 2014). However, resilience remains poorly defined and inconsistently applied. This Issue Paper aims to enhance understanding of this agenda. It intends to help OECD countries understand the issues associated with resilience, and specifically how spatial planning can be applied as part of a broader policy framework that builds resilience to extreme weather events and climate change. Section 2 provides further background and context and looks at the core themes that overarch this Issue Paper. These are extreme weather and climate change risk and resilience, the current and potential future nature of related hazards, and their relationship to land use change. Section 3 takes this forward and looks at the potential role of spatial planning in building resilience to extreme weather and climate change. Section 4 considers the application and effectiveness of spatial planning in practice, and points towards issues and barriers that are influencing its resilience building potential. Section 5 explores the adaptability of spatial planning itself, the argument being that there is a need to evolve the discipline and its methods in response to climate change and the complexities and uncertainties that this issue embodies. Section 6 then considers themes linked to enhancing the role of spatial planning in building resilience to extreme weather and climate change, with section 7 then drawing the Issue Paper to a close by proposing a series of conclusions and related policy recommendations.
2. Defining risk and resilience to extreme weather and climate change The concept of resilience has been adopted within a range of sectors, from national security to health and education, over recent decades. Resilience is attractive to policy makers as it can be easily adapted to different themes and contexts (Jabareen 2013, Meerow et al 2016, O’Hare and White 2013). Resilience is now positioned as an important goal for cities and urban areas, especially in relation to extreme weather and climate change (Carpenter et al 2012, Jabareen 2013, Meerow et al 2016), although it is also applied in the context of other socio-economic hazards (White and O’Hare 2014). There is no universally accepted definition of resilience. However, the term ‘general resilience’ has been used to refer to an overarching non-sector specific resilience approach and has been defined as: “…the capacity of social-ecological systems to adapt or transform in response to unfamiliar or unknown shocks” (Carpenter 2012: 3251). As resilience has taken a firmer hold within policy making circles, there has been growing debate over its definition and application. Klein et al (2003) see resilience as relating to specific attributes of a system which involve its ability to cope with a disturbance whilst remaining in the same state, and also its capacity for self-organisation and recovery. This approach has been termed engineering resilience (Davoudi 2012, Holling 1996). Alternative definitions of resilience are more dynamic and incorporate the notion that systems can and should evolve in response to potential and actual threats and shocks (Meerow et al 2016). Ecological resilience (Davoudi 2012, Holling 1996) focuses on: “the ability to persist and the ability to adapt” (Adger, 2003, p. 1), and may involve bouncing forwards to a different post-hazard state. This can be beneficial where the pre-existing state undermines resilience, such as in the case of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (Pendall et al 2010). This introduces the notion of evolutionary resilience, which focuses on the capacity for transformation of systems to meet the demands posed by changing conditions (Davoudi 2012, Shaw 2012, Simmie and Martin 2010). This may involve transitioning towards different states (e.g. of urban of land use, infrastructure design) that are more resilient, rather than returning to a state that may have driven risk and undermined resilience (O’Hare et al 2015). Whilst acknowledging the malleability of the term resilience, this Issue Paper chooses to follow the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) due to its focus on extreme weather and climate change. The IPCC regard resilience as: “The capacity of social, economic, and environmental systems to cope with a hazardous event or trend or disturbance, responding or reorganizing in ways that maintain their essential function, identity, and structure, while also maintaining the capacity for adaptation, learning, and transformation” (IPCC 2014: 6) Three essential elements are contained within the IPCC’s definition; that resilience concerns the capacity of a system to cope, respond and transform. Resilience therefore relates to: 1. Preparing for and being in a position to cope with an event should it happen. 2. Responding effectively to an event if it does happen. 3. Being in a position to transform towards a different state in the future. The concept of risk features prominently in climate change adaptation (which focuses on assessing risk from climate change and developing responses to reduce identified risks) and resilience literature, and is a central theme that runs through this Issue paper. The IPCC notes that: “Risk is often represented as probability of occurrence of hazardous events or trends multiplied by the impacts if these events or trends occur” (IPCC 2014: 127). Risks occur when a vulnerable receptor (e.g. a person or critical infrastructure asset) is exposed to a hazard. Here, vulnerability encompasses sensitivity (or susceptibility to harm) to hazards and capacity to adapt should they occur (IPCC 2014). Reducing vulnerability (and hence risk) therefore concerns reducing sensitivity and/or increasing 7
adaptive capacity to hazards. Reducing risk from extreme weather and climate change hazards is central to enhancing resilience. Jabareen (2013) aligns the concepts of risk and resilience, as does the Royal Society (2014): “We consider reducing risk (the combination of hazard, exposure and vulnerability) as a core component of enhancing resilience” (The Royal Society 2014: 22). Each of the three risk elements – hazard, exposure and vulnerability - has a spatial dimension. The type, frequency and intensity of hazards will vary according to the location being considered. Further, a hazard such as a flood hitting a city will affect some areas but not others; that is only certain areas of the city will be exposed to the flood. Similarly, patterns of vulnerability can also differ markedly at relatively fine spatial scales such as between buildings or neighbourhoods. In other words, the susceptibility of receptors in a city to harm from a flood will vary from place to place as a result of a combination of socio-economic and biophysical factors. These spatial differences in vulnerability and exposure create patterns of risk associated with extreme weather and climate hazards (IPCC 2014a). 2.1 Defining and understanding weather and climate hazards and extreme events This Issue Paper focuses on weather and climate hazards and extreme events such as floods, droughts, heatwaves, storms and wildfires. Extreme events can be both weather and climate related, and can be distinguished by their duration (Royal Society 2014). So, extreme weather events would include short duration flash floods and storms, whereas longer lasting droughts and periods of high temperature can be classed as extreme climate events. Extreme weather and climate events cause major damage to societies, economies and ecosystems (IPCC 2012). This is due to their magnitude, because they fall outside the bounds of usual experience and as they may generate unprecedented impacts. The devastation created by Hurricane Sandy in New York in October 2012 illustrates this well. Amongst other negative impacts, this event demonstrated how elements of a major city’s transport infrastructure network can be compromised by an extreme weather event, in this case concerning flooding of parts of the subway system. Similarly, the heat wave that caused tens of thousands of deaths across parts of Europe in August 2003 provides another contemporary example of a damaging extreme event. Figure 1: Economic losses from climatological, meteorological and hydrological disasters, 1980 – 2014
Source: EM-DAT (Emergency Event Database) (n.d.), “The International Disaster Database”, Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, www.emdat.be/ (accessed 27 February 2015)
The IPCC (2014) has very high confidence that climate-related extreme events are impacting on human and natural systems. Reported global economic losses associated with extreme weather 8
events, measured as a percentage of global GDP, have increased over recent decades (Mohleji and Pielke 2014). In Europe, economic losses from extreme weather events have grown by 50% in real terms over the last 30 years (Hov et al 2012). Actual figures are likely to be higher than those reported as only around one quarter of losses are insured, and non-economic losses such as psychological damage are not accounted for (IPCC 2012). Climate change looks set to further intensify these impacts and related costs (EEA 2012a). Indeed, there is a growing recognition that climate change is already altering the frequency and magnitude of flood, heat wave and cold events in many parts of the world (Horton et al 2015, IPCC 2012, Min et al 2011, Pall et al 2011). 2.2 Weather and climate hazards and extreme events– the land use dimension The Royal Society (2014) describe hazard such as floods and droughts as ‘compound events’, where the event itself combines with the underlying biophysical and socioeconomic conditions of the affected area to influence the specific character of individual events (e.g. their scale and the severity of related impacts). The future occurrence and impacts of extreme weather and climate change on natural and human systems will therefore be influenced by a range of factors in addition to climate change, particularly natural variability and socio-economic development patterns and trajectories (IPCC 2012). It is also recognised that urban form and land use can intensify hazards including flooding and heat stress, in addition to heightening the exposure of urban receptors to such hazards (EEA 2012). Again, the IPCC have high confidence that: “Increasing exposure of people and economic assets has been the major cause of long-term increases in economic losses from weather and climate-related disasters.” (IPCC 2012: 7). This is an important point because the emphasis is placed on changing demographic, land use and development patterns which interact with hazards to increase exposure and vulnerability, rather than simply focussing on changes to hazards or extreme events. The IPCC add that rapid and unplanned urbanization in hazard-prone areas as one of the key factors underlying increase in weather and climate losses (IPCC 2012). This theme is echoed by Swiss Re (2013: 5): “Rapid growth that outpaces planning, flaws in zoning laws and construction failures can all exacerbate the risk of natural hazards to urban communities” (Swiss Re 2013: 5). More specifically, it has been recognised that the increase in flood damages in Europe over recent decades can be attributed to socio-economic factors. These include the growth of people and assets in flood prone areas, in addition to land use change and associated effects including a loss of flood storage areas and the spread of non-absorptive surfaces (Feyen et al 2012). The land use dimension that shapes extreme weather and climate change hazards and risk places spatial planning in a potentially strong position to contribute to building resilience; exactly how spatial planning may realise such a role is where this Issue Paper now turns.
3. The potential role of spatial planning in building urban resilience to extreme weather and climate change Spatial planning is focused on the development and use of land, and can be defined as: ‘...the processes through which options for the development of places are envisioned, assessed, negotiated, agreed and expressed in policy, regulatory and investment terms’ (Davoudi et al 2010: 14). With the relationship between land use and the nature and severity of risks and losses connected to extreme and climate change now widely acknowledged, spatial planning appears to have an important role to play in building resilience to extreme weather and climate change. Over recent years, a growing body of research has addressed the role of spatial planning in supporting climate change adaptation (Blanco and Alberti 2009, Carter et al 2015, Carter and Sherriff 2016,) and resilience building goals (Albers and Deppisch 2013, Davoudi 2012, Davoudi et al 2010, Desouza and Flanery 2012, White and O’Hare 2014, Wilkinson 2011). Although land use change can intensify weather and climate risk, this relationship can be positive insofar as development and land use change, if properly managed, can reduce risk. Underscoring spatial planning’s role in influencing weather and climate risk is its cross-boundary nature and cross-sectoral remit, which means that it provides a forum for engagement between various interests and stakeholder groups. That spatial planning influences the development and use of land is also crucial in this respect. As a result it has been recognised that: “…mainstreaming climate change adaptation considerations into current urban development has to be a central strategy for dealing with climate change” (Richardson et al 2011: 401). Spatial planning policy instruments fall into two broad categories, development plans and development management instruments (Silva and Acheampong 2015). Development plans operate at different spatial scales, from the national to neighbourhood level, and guide land use allocation and development location. Development management instruments, which may be enshrined in legislation and regulations, aim to: “…control, regulate and or stimulate desired development outcomes.” (Silva and Acheampong 2015: 8). There are three main categories of development management instruments; regulatory instruments, incentive based instruments and fiscal instruments (Silva and Acheampong 2015). They are applied to guide the spatial extent and location of land use and development in order to achieve socio-economic and environmental objectives, which may cover resilience themes. In addition, spatial planning plays a significant coordination role in bringing organisations together when developing spatial plans and negotiating the implementation of development management instruments. Building on the framework developed by Silva and Acheampong (2015), Table 1 highlights ways in which spatial planning tools and approaches can potentially support the achievement of weather and climate resilience goals. Table 2 then follows a risk-based approach to better understand the application of spatial planning approaches and instruments to building resilience to extreme weather and climate change. Here, reducing risk, and therefore building resilience, involves lowering exposure and/or vulnerability to hazards. Risk can also be lowered if the frequency and/or intensity of hazards are reduced. Although there are various types of development plans and development management instruments available, a hierarchy of complementary spatial planning approaches will ultimately be needed to achieve resilience objectives. For example, policies included in development plans to reduce flood risk could be supported by using zoning approaches to protect landscapes that provide flood risk management functions, such as urban greenspaces that absorb water and reduce runoff into watercourses. In situations where development does take place in areas at risk, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) at the planning and design stage could highlight this risk and encourage the implementation of measures to reduce exposure and vulnerability to flooding. This could be supported by building standards that require certain design features (e.g. raising electrical wiring on 10
the ground floor, using flood resilient building materials) to be adopted prior to granting planning permission. Hafencity, a new development district situated on an island within the river Elbe in Hamburg, provides a good example of this approach. Here new buildings and infrastructure are being built on elevated mounds to provide protection from river flooding, storm surges and sea level rise, and designed to incorporate sustainable drainage features. Table 1 details a wide range of different spatial planning approaches that have the potential to support resilience building. However, it may not always be feasible to apply certain approaches due to local circumstances. For example, spatial containment approaches may not be easily implemented due to factors including development pressure or limited land availability. Similarly, local authorities may be under pressure to build in areas that are at risk from hazards due to the property taxes that they would accrue from the new development (OECD 2016). Here, spatial planning can still provide a resilience building function by incorporating regulations that can require design features within new developments in areas potentially exposed to hazards in order to reduce levels of exposure and vulnerability. The right â€˜mixâ€™ of spatial planning approaches for a particular location will therefore vary.
Table 1: Potential resilience functions of different spatial planning approaches. Development Plans: Spatial policies and frameworks to shape the development and use of land Description Potential resilience functions National plans Planning policy frameworks and Establishing strategic resilience goals and principles to strategic visions to guide activity at be implemented locally, mainstreaming resilience lower levels. within a range of sectors. Regional plans Strategic frameworks providing High level articulation of resilience objectives from a high level and broad scale spatial spatial perspective, safeguarding areas and assets that policies to implement locally. provide resilience functions. Local plans Detailed spatial policy frameworks Keeping development away from hazard prone areas, identifying specific locations for safeguarding and enhancing areas and assets that development and conservation. provide resilience functions, inclusion of policies to build resilience into developments, mainstreaming Often legally binding. resilience within other sectors (e.g. transport, housing, public space). Master plans Neighbourhood or site specific Specification of development standards, safeguarding plans detailing development and enhancing areas and assets that provide resilience patterns, e.g. a new housing estate functions, keeping development away from hazard or retail complex. prone areas. Development Management Instruments: Regulating the development and use of land Spatial Specify the location, scale and type Safeguarding areas and assets that provide resilience containment of development (e.g. greenbelts, functions, keeping development away from hazard zoning policies, urban growth prone locations, identifying permissible development approaches boundaries, density guidelines). types and land uses in particular locations. Strategic Assessment of the environmental Assessing the impacts of weather/climate change on Environmental impacts of strategies and plans strategies and plans, assessing the impacts of strategies and plans on resilience themes, proposing Assessment (SEA) prior to their adoption. responses to impacts, raising awareness. Environmental Assessment of the environmental Assessing the impacts of weather/climate on projects, Impact impacts of projects prior to their assessing the impacts of projects on resilience themes, Assessment (EIA) implementation. proposing responses to impacts, raising awareness. Market based Incentives to develop in certain Encouraging the use of agricultural land to protect instruments locations and maintain particular local food growing, reducing development pressure on land uses, e.g. brownfield land that provides resilience functions (e.g. urban redevelopment incentives, transfer greenspace) through encouraging it elsewhere (e.g. of development rights, use value brownfields), generating funds to invest in resilience tax assessment, tax reductions for building approaches. inclusion of resilience features. Building Building design conditions that new Enhancing the resilience of buildings through the standards and developments are required to incorporation of design measures. Important where codes meet in order to gain planning developments provide a resilience function, e.g. permission. emergency services, critical infrastructure. Coordination activities: Building formal and informal relationships between stakeholders Vertical Coordination and collaboration Encouraging appropriate resilience issues to be coordination between spatial scales, e.g. from addressed at the appropriate spatial scale, enabling the national to local level. local circumstances to shape resilience approaches. Horizontal Coordination and collaboration Sharing knowledge and experience, â€˜joining upâ€™ coordination between sectors working at the resilience strategies, addressing cross-sectoral same scale, e.g. city or region. cascading impacts. Consultation A statutory requirement in some Raising awareness, collaborative vision building, countries, and can encourage balancing current and future socio-economic and participation in planning processes. environmental goals in development plans. Negotiation Negotiation between stakeholders Raising awareness, discussing the merits of different involved in planning processes. resilience approaches.
Table 2: Examples of the role of spatial planning in reducing risk to extreme weather and climate hazards. Reducing the frequency and intensity of hazards • Protection, enhancement or creation of water retention areas to increase the absorption of water and hence reduce runoff speeds and volumes following heavy rainfall. This can reduce the severity of associated flood events. • Protection, enhancement or creation of green space in urban areas to reduce surface and air temperatures, and hence the intensity of heatwave events. Reducing exposure to hazards • The inclusion of policies in development plans to limit building in areas known to be exposed to hazards such as flood plains, sites subject to coastal erosion and locations prone to landslides. Reducing sensitivity to hazards • Where development does take place in areas potentially exposed to hazards, require the incorporation of design elements that can reduce sensitivity to (or susceptibility to harm from) hazard. For example, require water saving technologies to be incorporated in developments in areas where water shortages are experienced and projected to intensify. • Guide the location of new development to control the demand for critical infrastructure services that may be influenced by extreme weather and climate change, such as water supply. Increasing capacity to adapt to hazards • Ensure that emergency response infrastructure (e.g. hospitals, fire stations) and critical infrastructure (e.g. energy generation and supply, water supply and waste water treatment) are designed and sited to reduce exposure and vulnerability to hazards. • Build extreme weather and climate change resilience policies into spatial plans, thereby increasing the awareness of these themes and encouraging their adoption across a range of different sectors. It is also evident that certain spatial planning methods and approaches have been criticised by some stakeholder groups, and spatial containment policies are particularly contentious in this respect. Arguments against the enforcement of greenbelts, for example, include that they can drive up land prices by limiting land supply and may distort urban expansion patterns by encouraging higher density developments around the fringes of greenbelts and housing shortages within them (Amati and Taylor 2010, Fung and Conway 2007, Silva and Acheampong 2015). Also, from a resilience perspective, it is feasible that greenbelts may not be protecting the most valuable land when considered in terms of the provision of functions including flood risk management and biodiversity conservation. Existing brownfield land or greenspaces within urban areas may in fact represent a more valuable resilience landscapes. This emphasises that robust data on the character of urban land and landscapes is needed in order to inform the development and implementation of effective spatial planning methods and approaches.
4. Exploring the application and effectiveness of spatial planning as a resilience building tool 4.1 Spatial planning and resilience in practice There are various ways that spatial planning can, in principle, be applied to building resilience to extreme weather and climate change. However, the process of translating this potential contribution into practice is in its early stages (Wilkinson et al 2010). A number of OECD countries have national policy frameworks that address resilience themes (OECD 2016a). Some of these are dedicated resilience strategies whilst others are more general plans and strategies, focusing on urban development, economic growth and disaster recovery for example, that incorporate resilience themes. This demonstrates that resilience is cross cutting and does not always find a home in a specific ‘resilience’ strategy, and that just because a strategy does not have ‘resilience’ in its title does not mean that it is not progressing resilience objectives. The wide scope of the concept, coupled with the spread of related themes and principles across multiple policy themes and sectors, makes it challenging to establish the extent to which resilience has been adopted in practice. Spatial planners have more experience of adaptation to climate change, which is increasingly being adopted within some spatial planning systems. Whereas adaptation focuses on assessing and reducing weather and climate risks, enhancing resilience is a broader concept and encompasses interrelated economic, social, environmental and institutional drivers and objectives. Although adaptation is narrower in scope than resilience the processes are related (UNISDR 2012), and gaining an insight into the application of spatial planning within the adaptation field is therefore valuable. A recent study found that 24 OECD countries currently have national climate change adaptation strategies, with a further 7 in preparation (OECD 2015). National adaptation strategies are the main tool utilised in OECD countries for organising adaptation planning activities, and they focus on mainstreaming adaptation activity into sectors and regulatory processes (Mullan et al 2013), which may include spatial planning. However, a review of National Adaptation Strategies of European States concluded that: “…spatial planning is currently only given minor attention in most adaptation strategies across Europe…” (Greiving and Fleischhauer 2012: 45). The review also established that spatial planning’s position regarding climate change adaptation differs from country to country. For example, some have an adaptation strategy but do not reference the role of spatial planning within it (e.g. Finland and Spain), whereas others go further and articulate the contribution that spatial planning can make and have enacted laws to support this activity in practice (e.g. Netherlands and UK). Such variation cannot be attributed to levels of exposure to extreme weather and climate change hazards; rather, the specific characteristics of member states, including their history and tradition of spatial planning, are the key influences. In addition to climate change adaptation, it is also recognised that spatial planning can also contribute to the achievement of disaster risk reduction goals (Sutanta et al 2012, Walmsler 2006). This is significant given that climate change adaptation and a disaster risk reduction both connect closely to building resilience (UNISDR 2012). 4.2 Considering the effectiveness of spatial planning in building resilience to climate change Monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness resilience measures is needed to support decision making and investment of resources. In reference to adaptation: “Effectiveness can either be gauged through reducing impacts and exposure to them or in terms of reducing risk and avoiding danger and promoting security” (Adger et al 2005: 81). As building resilience to extreme weather and climate change is a relatively new agenda for planning authorities, with direct experience consequently limited, knowledge and awareness of the effectiveness of related measures is currently lacking. Studies tend to be descriptive rather than evaluative (Mullan et al 2013). The OECD
(2015) identifies three challenges related to monitoring and evaluating adaptation approaches. These are: • • •
Difficulties surrounding attributing effects specifically to climate change adaptation measures, given that these measures will often be part of an integrated approach to reducing weather and climate risk and therefore problematic to isolate. Circumstances are complex and changeable which makes it hard to establish the baseline situation from which to measure progress. Also, targets linked to adaptation are often missing. Adaptation measures may take years and sometimes decades to have a measurable impact on the ground. Despite this, evaluations are often undertaken soon after the implementation of an approach and may therefore miss longer term effects.
Assessing the effectiveness of adaptation and resilience measures is challenged by their complex and wide ranging nature and the resulting difficulty in developing indicators and methods to measure and track progress (Ford et al 2013). There are also value judgements concerning measuring the effectiveness of approaches to reduce weather and climate risk. These relate to issues including which groups are considered when determining effectiveness, the timescales over which effectiveness is measured and understanding who bears the costs of implementing measures. Despite these issues, there are approaches and guidance available on how to measure the effectiveness of adaptation approaches (Brooks et al 2011, Ford and Berrang-Ford 2016, Ford et al 2013, UNFCCC 2011). Ford et al (2013) differentiate approaches according to whether they are outcome based or systematic. Outcome based approaches look at the effectiveness of measures according to their capacity to reduce weather and climate impacts and risks. Systematic approaches include methods that focus on the process of developing adaptation and resilience responses, such as the stages of preparing a related plan or strategy document. There are emerging examples of related effectiveness studies. They include an assessment of measures to reduce flood damage to French households, which established that their effectiveness varies according to the measure selected and the location where it is implemented (Poussin et al 2015). A further study looked at the effectiveness of different flood management strategies for Ho Chi Minh City, and identified that certain measures perform better from an economic perspective (Lasage et al 2014). 4.3 Considering costs and benefits Climate change adaptation effectiveness approaches include those that are based around determining the balance between the costs and benefits of measures. They include cost-benefits analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, multi-criteria analysis and risk-based assessments (UNFCCC 2011). Practical examples include research at the European scale which demonstrated that investing in flood defence offers a net economic benefit versus the costs of flood damage (Feyen and Watkiss 2011). A similar conclusion was reached by a study looking at protecting against sea level rise on Europe’s coastlines, where the costs of adaptation are exceeded by the benefits associated with reducing the risk of coastal flooding (Brown et al 2011). Both of these studies highlighted uncertainties over damage costs and of adaptation measure costs. Although the costs associated with adaptation to climate change are difficult to establish (Narain et al 2011), for reasons including the methodological difficulties that hamper the economics of adaptation (EEA 2007), there is general agreement that the costs of acting on climate change, through both mitigation and adaptation activities, are outweighed by the benefits of taking action (EEA 2007, Parry et al 2009, Stern 2006). Indeed, a report for the government of Uganda estimated the cost of inaction on climate change to be at least 20 times the proposed national adaptation budget for the period up to 2025 (Republic of Uganda 2015).
Research looking specifically at the cost implications of related spatial planning measures is limited. Exceptions include a Dutch case study that looked at the costs and benefits of spatial planning 15
measures aimed at reducing flood risk to an urban development site (de Bruin et al 2014). This established that when considered individually, three of four options were not cost efficient, although as viewed as a group of four integrated options they have a net positive economic value. The study also emphasised the importance of taking secondary benefits into account in such assessments. Despite the lack of data on this topic, there are certain generic costs associated with adapting and building resilience to extreme weather and climate change that can be identified. Implementation costs may include direct costs such as those related to adding design features to new developments (e.g. sustainable drainage schemes, water saving technologies), maintenance of adaptation measures, the procurement of research or data to support plan and strategy development, and staff time allocated to developing and implementing spatial planning approaches. Indirect costs may also arise such as the inability to realise land development values where natural or agricultural land is protected to provide adaptation functions. The nature and extent of these generic costs will depend on factors including the specific measure, location and timescale being considered. In addition to implementation costs, there will also be costs of inaction; that is costs related to the realisation of extreme weather and climate change risks where adaptation or resilience building actions have not been taken. These are difficult to assign to a particular adaptation or resilience measure, but may include ‘locking in’ low resilience building designs or development patterns for long periods of time. Inaction may also contribute to a reduction in the economic competitiveness and investment potential of cities, regions or nation states where extreme weather and climate change impacts and risks become more frequent and severe. Benefits of adaptation and resilience measures can include the avoidance of hazard costs, in addition to secondary benefits linked to landscape or urban change stemming from the implementation of adaptation measures. In the context of urban greening, for example, secondary benefits can include improvements to health and wellbeing, increase in property prices and inward investment (Forest Research 2010). 4.4 Factors limiting the application and effectiveness of spatial planning as a resilience building tool Although the relationship between spatial planning and resilience is increasingly acknowledged and promoted, this connection has not been widely developed in planning practice. Storbjörk and Hjerpe (2014: 2283) have described this as an implementation gap, adding that; “There is a split between policy expectations and the practical realities of planning”. There are limiting factors that are acting as barriers to spatial planning in adapting and building resilience to climate change, the nature of which will depend on national and local circumstances. Limiting factors cited within the literature on this topic, many of which are also relevant to adaptation and resilience more generally, include (Carter and Sherriff 2016, Davoudi 2009, Fleischhauer 2008, Greiving and Fleischhauer 2012, Measham et al 2011, Serrao-Neumann et al 2015, Storbjörk and Hjerpe 2014, Wilson 2006); • • • • • • •
A lack of integration and coordination between departments, sectors and organisations. Financial and human resource constraints. In some situations, there may be limited access to climate projections data, and where data is available it can be subject to significant uncertainty. There is a lack of knowledge on the effectiveness of adaptation and resilience building responses in practice. Spatial planning’s key role is in influencing the design and location of new developments and infrastructure. This renders it less effective in areas with established land use patterns, particularly where densities are high. Spatial planning may not be supported as a policy tool. For example, Greiving and Fleischhauer (2012) note that in some European countries there is general scepticism surrounding long term spatial planning. Societal and cultural inertia can lead to resistance to change and reluctance to implement measures, particularly those that challenge the status quo. 16
Spatial planning is a political tool that is used to achieve public policy goals, which may not always feature building resilience to extreme weather and climate change. As a result, Storbjörk and Hjerpe (2014: 2282) observe that; “…climate adaptation is sometimes politically correct and at other times disregarded”. Measham et al (2011) argue that if only the ‘surface constraints’ that appear to be limiting the effectiveness of spatial planning are addressed, for example by improving information and resource availability, the political nature of spatial planning will continue to act as a significant barrier to progress. They note that: “Only by gaining acceptance in the political arena can climate adaptation gain traction on the planning agenda” Measham et al (2011: 907). Where the planning system is not working effectively to reduce and manage climate risk, a legacy of developments sited inappropriately and designed sub-optimally for a changing climate can accumulate. This process may continue even where a mature spatial planning system is in place that recognises the importance of adaptation and resilience. For example, a study of English local planning authorities found that although the majority of development (87%) takes place outside floodplains, the rate of development between 2001 and 2011 was actually higher inside than outside floodplain areas (ARUP 2012). Although these developments may build in flood resilience measures, the overall level of flood risk will nevertheless rise with the growth of people and assets in locations potentially exposed to this hazard. Despite the lack of integration in practice between adaptation, resilience and spatial planning, the relative novelty of this agenda and the existence of a broad range of limiting factors, examples of good practice can be identified. These include; • • •
Working within the realms of the spatial planning system, the UK Planning Inspectorate considers the implications of climate change on major infrastructure projects. Albers and Deppisch (2013) looked at Stockholm (Sweden) and Rostock (Germany) and found that their spatial planning frameworks were beginning to incorporate resilience principles. Resilience is increasingly being embedded in urban policy documents in Rotterdam (the Netherlands), and is beginning to influence land use and development activity. The city is driving progress in this field, particularly relating to adapting to climate change impacts, and is looking not only to reduce hazard risk but also to capture economic opportunities linked to boosting resilience (Lu and Stead 2013). In the Netherlands, the concept of ‘climate proofing’ now informs climate change adaptation, and has been integrated into the spatial planning system to help ensure that new developments are ‘climate proofed.’
Although pockets of good practice exist, there is a need to focus attention on how to align spatial planning more closely and effectively with the adaptation and resilience agenda. The remainder of this Issue Paper focuses in this topic.
5. Assessing the adaptability of spatial planning systems Although there are examples of good practice, there is relatively little documentary evidence of the application of spatial planning approaches towards the achievement of resilience building goals. It is also notable that the potential effectiveness of spatial planning as a resilience building approach appears to be limited by a range of barriers. This has real implications given the threat of suboptimal planning decisions leading to development activities that drive up extreme weather and climate risks. Moreover, opportunities to help shape more resilient developments and land use change processes are being missed. It is clear that changes are needed in order to enhance the capacity of spatial planning to be able to make a stronger contribution to the resilience agenda, and potential options are considered within sections 6 and 7 of this Issue Paper. Before doing so, the ‘adaptability’ of spatial planning tools and approaches to the task of building climate resilience is considered. This concerns exploring the degree to which different aspects of spatial planning systems may be modified to enhance their role in delivering resilience building processes and actions by incorporating related principles and approaches. Factors that influence the exposure and vulnerability of cities to extreme weather and climate change can shift rapidly. It is not only the climate that is changing; so are the receptors potentially exposed and vulnerable to extreme weather and climate hazards. Consequently, the process of building resilience must embrace dynamism (Pendall et al 2010). It follows that for spatial planning to contribute effectively to this agenda, it must also be dynamic, adaptable and flexible, not static and rigid. This perspective is supported by the OECD: “As the characteristics of risks are increasingly difficult to predict over long time-horizons, the policy response should involve a proportionate, flexible and iterative risk management approach in adaptation planning.” (OECD 2015). With this goal in mind, Table 3 explores the adaptability of different elements of spatial planning systems, following the typology used in Table 1. This emphasises that certain elements are potentially more able to incorporate resilience approaches and principles, particularly over the short to medium term. Development plans will often be relatively inflexible, shaped by statutory processes that operate over long time frames (although more rapid changes could be made where the political will exists). Yet, if an opportunity arises to build resilience into a development plan, this can stimulate far reaching positive changes that cascade down into other elements of the spatial planning system. Development management instruments are generally either mandated by statutory legislation (e.g. SEA and EIA) or contained within development plans or associated planning regulations (e.g. spatial containment approaches, building standards and codes). As a result their adaptability to respond to changing circumstances is constrained, although potentially not to the same degree as development plans. For example, amendments to building standards may be made to incorporate resilience themes where support is present amongst key stakeholder groups. This leaves coordination activities, which are arguably the most adaptable element of spatial planning systems since they can be more readily mobilised to support the achievement of resilience objectives. For example, networks between organisations operating with a city to build resilience capacity could, in theory, be established relatively quickly and easily. Here, new models where climate change adaptation responses are co-evolved across a wider group of participants are also potentially valuable (Hegger et al 2012). Such approaches are important as adapting and building resilience to climate change is a dynamic social process where collective action is crucial (Adger 2003).
Table 3: Exploring the potential adaptability of spatial planning approaches. Development Plans: Spatial frameworks and guidance to shape the development and use of land Adaptability National plans National planning frameworks may be updated periodically by national governments to reflect changing political agendas and availability of knowledge. This presents an (occasional) opportunity to incorporate resilience themes. Regional plans Where a review process is mandated, this provides a route to incorporate resilience themes into regional plans. Regional plans may be subjected to SEA which can strengthen the plan from a resilience perspective. Otherwise, given that they are relatively long term and may often be statutory, chances to amend regional plans are limited. Local plans Local plans are usually statutory and can cover relatively long time periods of 10-20 years. They are generally reviewed to every 5 years of so to ensure that they are up to date. This provides an opportunity to build in resilience policies and approaches. Local plans are often examined by a higher level authority to ensure that they address key legislative requirements, which may encompass resilience themes. They may also be subjected to SEA. However, given that they are relatively long term and statutory in nature, local plans are quite inflexible in the short term. Master plans Once agreed, there will be little chance to modify a master plan to incorporate changing circumstances, and the location and design of a development will be fixed. However, master plans may be subjected to EIA or SEA prior to adoption. They will also reflect the policy framework set out in higher level plans, which may contain resilience objectives. Development Management Instruments: Regulating the development and use of land Spatial Spatial containment approaches are included in development plans. New areas to protect containment (e.g. via zoning policies) could be added at the point where development plans are approaches updated. Otherwise, these approaches are relatively inflexible. Strategic SEA is enshrined in legislation. Formal guidance documents could potentially be issued to Environmental increase focus on resilience themes within SEA processes. Legislative change may be Assessment needed to formally build resilience into SEA. (SEA) Environmental EIA is enshrined in legislation. Formal guidance documents could potentially be issued to Impact increase focus on resilience themes within EIA processes. Legislative change may be Assessment needed to formally build resilience into EIA. (EIA) Market based These instruments can be applied in a selective and flexible manner by regional and local instruments authorities to encourage land use change and development patterns to become more resilient to extreme weather and climate change. In this sense, they are adaptable. Building Building standards and codes may be part of statutory planning legislation. Related policies standards and may be incorporated into development plans at the local level to encourage the codes achievement of resilience outcomes in new developments and retrofits. Coordination activities: Building formal and informal relationships between stakeholders Vertical Where vertical coordination approaches exist between organisations and agencies working coordination at different scales, they will often be driven by planning legislation. Informal resiliencefocused arrangements may be difficult to arrange. Horizontal Formal legislated horizontal consultation processes do exist in some countries. Informal coordination non-statutory approaches, such as knowledge sharing networks between agencies and organisations working in the same city or region, could be established relatively easily. Consultation In many planning systems, there are statutory requirements to consult on development plans and planning applications, which provide an opportunity to raise resilience themes. Where these requirements do not exist, consultation can proceed informally and may boost resilience outcomes. Negotiation Negotiation processes between stakeholders involved in planning processes will generally proceed informally. This provides a good opportunity to discuss resilience approaches with developers and to encourage planning policies to be implemented in order to support the achievement of resilience outcomes.
6. Enhancing the role of spatial planning in building resilience to extreme weather and climate change Despite emerging good practice, particularly in cities and urban areas, there is limited evidence of resilience themes being systematically embedded within spatial planning systems. It is important, therefore, to consider approaches to overcome barriers to progress and identify ways to strengthen the contribution of spatial planning to the achievement of climate resilience goals. In order to inform this process, two themes that shape extreme weather and climate change risks are expanded upon within this section of the Issue Paper; complexity and uncertainty. These themes must be acknowledged as they present a major challenge to spatial planning policy makers and practitioners, who are also faced with multiple other issues including resource constraints, knowledge gaps and competing political demands. Key issues emerging from this discussion that have implications for spatial planning policy, and could also help to guide future research in this field, are highlighted in bold. Four related policy recommendations, and associated knowledge gaps, are presented in section 7. 6.1 Complexity of systems and processes Factors underlying exposure and vulnerability to extreme weather and climate hazards are dynamic, and therefore the nature of related risks can change over time and vary between locations. Ongoing shifts to socio-economic factors such as economic development, migration, population growth and land cover are important in this respect and emphasise that: “Climate change will not happen in an otherwise stationary system” (Royal Society 2014: 41). Indeed, systems that are impacted by climate change, such as cities for example, are: “complex, non-linear, and self-organising, permeated by uncertainty and discontinuities” (Berkes and Folke, 1998: 12). This complexity leads to a diversity of extreme weather and climate risks from one location to another, often at a fine spatial scale. Spatial planning policy makers and practitioners may find the uncertainty that derives from this complexity to restrict making progress, yet this characteristic of the agenda must nevertheless be recognised. Spatial planning policy makers and practitioners must develop and implement resilience building responses that recognise and respond to the complex interrelationships between the biophysical and socio-economic factors that shape extreme weather and climate risks. 6.2 Ever-present uncertainty The occurrence and variability of extreme weather events is not fully understood: “…it is usually impossible to predict future extreme events with precision and accuracy” (Royal Society 2014: 21). Over the longer term, these uncertainties are magnified and it can be difficult to even project the direction of change (i.e. increasing or declining) in the occurrence of some extreme events (IPCC 2012). The uncertainty in climate projections is reflected in the range of future scenarios that are produced (IPCC 2013). Uncertainty also arises from the use of different modelling approaches and the varying outputs that they produce. Rojas et al (2012) found major differences between projected changes to flood return periods in European regions over the coming decades, with some model simulations showing an increase and others a decrease in flood hazard frequency for the same area. Uncertainty will remain a feature of climate change projections because: “…there does not exist at present a single agreed on and robust formal methodology to deliver uncertainty quantification estimates of future changes in all climate variables” (Collins et al 2013: 1040). In addition, it is not possible to be certain about the future impacts of climate change on societies and ecosystems. This is particularly true of higher projected temperature increases (New et al 2009). These uncertainties have impacted on adaptation planning practice. Wilby and Dessai (2010) note that although climate change projections have demonstrated the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they have 20
been less helpful in supporting decisions on how to adapt to the changing climate. Approaches must be developed to acknowledge and work with uncertainty. Spatial planners must find ways of dealing with the uncertainty that influences the process of building resilience to extreme weather and climate change. 6.3 Evolving spatial planning as a resilience building approach Complexity and uncertainty are key factors that influence and shape extreme weather and climate change risk and resilience building, and must therefore be central features of spatial planning responses. Urban resilience is a multidisciplinary and complex agenda, yet this perspective does not appear to be well understood or widely adopted (Jabareen 2013). Within current spatial planning practice resilience is often presented as the capacity to ‘bounce back’ to the pre-hazard state, where success concerns maintaining and returning to the status quo (White and O’Hare 2014). Using the terminology introduced in section 2, spatial planning tends to take an engineering resilience approach. Spatial planning’s rigid blueprints, housing targets and land allocations, based on current knowledge and development priorities, do not fit with our evolving understanding of the complexity and uncertainty that characterises extreme weather and climate change, particularly in urban settings. Change is needed if progress is to be made. Planners’ current ‘toolkits’ are not adequate to respond to the climate threat (Davoudi 2012). Without a change in approach, established spatial planning instruments and conventional ways of thinking may ‘lock in’ sub-optimal and low resilience future spatial patterns and trajectories. There is a need to view spatial planning in a different way in order to meet the resilience challenges of the 21st century. This is important because resilience is a “…dynamic attribute associated with a process of continual adjustment” (Pendall et al 2010: 76). By extension, resilience building must also be dynamic. Spatial planning needs to have the capacity to develop (through vision building) and implement (through planning instruments) progressive strategies that offer the potential for transformational change to occur in response to complex and often unpredictable hazards and pressures. Spatial planning could usefully adopt an evolutionary resilience approach (Davoudi 2012, Porter and Davoudi 2012). This presents an opportunity to acknowledge and work with complexity and uncertainty. Here, processes of transition and transformation would be encouraged and viewed as positive outcomes if they led to more resilient states. In a spatial planning context, this will involve avoiding the creation of fixed planning outcomes, leaving options open and only committing to decisions where this makes sense to do so given current knowledge of climate change and related processes (Greiving and Fleischhauer 2012). This will also involve moving away from rigid frameworks, tools and methods, and instead embracing the potential for multiple different futures for an area, the form of which may emerge over time. To support such an approach, it would be useful to apply what Hallegatte (2008) has termed ‘uncertainty management methods’. These include developing flexible and reversible options and building safety margins into new developments to account for the prospect of severe climate futures. Evolutionary resilience could be viewed as a chance to reframe spatial planning and make it more relevant and responsive to the modern world and our evolving understanding of it. The steps needed to make this shift, and the opportunities that this would present to spatial planning, should be explored in more detail. However, it must be recognised that predictive, linear, top down, piecemeal and closed system tools and approaches currently characterise many spatial planning systems and approaches, and as a result encouraging a shift towards evolutionary resilience represents a demanding prospect (Porter
and Davoudi 2012, Shaw 2012, White and O’Hare 2014). An evolutionary approach to resilience is, in essence, a challenge to the status quo and established forms of spatial planning.
7. Conclusions and recommendations There is a clear message emerging from the climate science; given the magnitude of risks to societies, economies and ecosystems associated with all but the most optimistic of climate change scenarios, adapting and building resilience to climate change should be a crucial policy goal. Although rapid and aggressive mitigation strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may reduce the likelihood of more severe climate futures, extreme weather and climate change will continue to pose risks to societies. Indeed, economic losses associated with extreme weather and climate change events are rising, with increasing exposure of people and assets to related hazards standing out as a key contributory factor. Given the relationship between land use and extreme weather and climate change hazards, spatial planning has a key role to play in helping to adapt and build resilience to related hazards. However, adaptation and resilience are not yet mainstream spatial planning issues. A range of socioeconomic, political and cultural barriers are holding back the effective application of spatial planning to the goal of building resilience to extreme weather and climate change. This situation needs to change if spatial planning is to become a more effective in supporting a resilience transition. Much is promised by the concept of resilience, particularly in its evolutionary form, but the reality is that without significant change to the frameworks underpinning and approaches embedded within spatial planning, little of this potential may be delivered in practice. This Issue Paper has raised a number of themes that enable several overarching policy recommendations to be proposed that would help to take spatial planning forward in this respect. These are recommendations that are likely to be valid across different locations and contexts, within and beyond the group of OECD countries, although it is important to recognise that what is ‘good practice’ in one location may be unachievable in another (McCann 2010). Four overarching policy recommendations are outlined below. They are: 1. 2. 3. 4.
Build the evidence base on spatial planning and resilience. Integrate resilience alongside other spatial planning agendas. Embed spatial planning within a broader resilience building policy framework. Focus spatial planning on building ‘general resilience’.
Policy recommendation 1: Build the evidence base on spatial planning and resilience Spatial planning can, in principle, support resilience building. However, knowledge on the application and effectiveness of related approaches in practice is currently limited. Gaps in the evidence base are significant, and may be acting to limit progress. Data is needed to support decisions to apply spatial planning approaches and instruments in practice, for example to enable decision makers and practitioners to more clearly identify potential costs and benefits of different courses of action. Similarly, spatial data on exposure and vulnerability to weather and climate hazards is also lacking in some areas, which can make the creation of ‘evidence based’ development plans more challenging. Although knowledge and data availability can feasibly be improved, certain caveats remain. As highlighted by Wilby and Dessai’s (2010) ‘cascade of uncertainty’, the ‘envelope of uncertainty’ widens moving from greenhouse gas emissions scenarios through to the development of climate change projections, and down to the determination of local scale hazards and impacts. Finer scaled spatial data can potentially be useful, but downscaling is not a route to reducing uncertainty. Further, planners and decision makers have differing capacities to understand and work with climate change resilience data due to factors including knowledge levels and access to resources. 22
Understanding how best to proceed in this situation is central to advancing the resilience agenda. Associated policy recommendations include: •
Planners should be encouraged to monitor the implementation of spatial planning measures. More data needs to be captured in order to assess the effectiveness of different measures. To facilitate this, collaborations may be needed with partner agencies or academic institutions, and resource and training may be necessary. Further research on the role and effectiveness of spatial planning to building resilience to extreme weather and climate change should be encouraged . This research should be informed by, and effectively communicated to, its ‘end users’; that is planning decision makers and practitioners.
Knowledge gaps that could be usefully addressed in order to help build the evidence base regarding spatial planning and resilience include: •
Although the connection between spatial planning and resilience is relatively novel, there is more experience of the application of planning approaches towards related themes including climate change adaptation and flood risk management. Research targeted at learning from these early experiences, particularly regarding the costs and effectiveness of measures, would be valuable. Over recent years cities have emerged as key sites taking on this agenda, and studies focused learning from their early experiments are likely to be useful for resilience building more generally. However, attention also needs to be paid to other locations, such as smaller settlements and rural areas, in terms of resilience building. Indeed, cities and large urban areas do not exist in isolation and depend on their hinterlands in numerous ways. A ‘whole system’ approach to resilience is ultimately necessary.
Policy recommendation 2: Integrate resilience alongside other spatial planning agendas Resilience should be integrated with other core economic and social spatial planning agendas to promote long term growth and development patterns that encourage the achievement of multiple objectives. Indeed, building resilience to extreme weather and climate change can support objectives such as boosting economic competitiveness, protecting existing infrastructure investments and increasing social welfare. Despite this, adaptation is often not connected to other related agendas including demographic change and economic growth within planning strategies (Greiving and Fleischhauer 2012). Policy approaches that could support this integration in practice include: • •
Place adapting and building resilience to climate change as a legislative requirement for spatial planner to meet. Where spatial development patterns are influenced by public funding, for example in the case of European structural funds, including adaptation and resilience within funding criteria would support their integration into practice (Greiving and Fleischhauer 2012).
Several knowledge gaps remain which could help to guide future research into promoting integration. These include: •
There is a need to identifying and communicate practical examples of where adapting and building resilience to extreme weather and climate change can support the achievement of other economic, social and environmental planning goals. Measures that offer the potential to deliver ‘multifunctional’ benefits across several themes and sectors can therefore be more easily prioritised by decision makers.
A better understanding is needed of how adaptation and resilience can be positioned as a ‘mainstream’ spatial planning agenda. This will involve developing a stronger evidence base on the costs and benefits of different adaptation and resilience measures.
Policy recommendation 3: Embed spatial planning within a broader resilience building policy framework Spatial planning should be seen as just one element of a broader multifaceted resilience building framework (OECD 2015). This is apparent when the scope and remit of spatial planning is considered, with its core influence being over the location and design of new developments and prospective changes to land use. Spatial planning exerts much less control over existing built environments and landscapes, which may not be resilient due to a legacy of previous decisions and actions. A wide range of other mechanisms and approaches, such as emergency planning and developing stakeholder networks, are also crucial elements of resilience building. An evolutionary and transformational approach to resilience will not be achieved by applying spatial planning approaches alone. National and regional governments have a critical role to play here, and two key policy recommendations can be identified: • •
Strategic resilience frameworks should be developed to secure connections between spatial planning and other relevant policies, tools and methods. Resilience should feature in legislation underpinning spatial planning systems and other fields of public policy. If it does not, it is unlikely to be progressed in practice.
There are knowledge gaps connected to creating a resilience building policy framework that incorporates spatial planning alongside other tools and methods. Considering spatial planning in particular, these include: • •
There is a need to clarify the role of spatial planning as an element of a wider resilience policy framework. This demands seeing resilience policy as a whole, and identifying which related functions and objectives can be most effectively delivered by spatial planning. The relationship between spatial planning and other elements of a resilience policy framework should be explored. This requires developing a better understanding of the most significant connections between spatial planning and other fields of policy in order that synergies can be promoted and conflicts or duplications of effort be avoided.
Policy recommendation 4: Focus spatial planning on building ‘general resilience’ Given the diversity of hazards that a particular location may be exposed to, spatial planning must adopt a multi-hazard approach (Fleischhauer 2008). It is important to look beyond extreme weather and climate change hazards in this respect. The term ‘general resilience’ has been used to describe an approach that is focused on building resilience to a range of hazards and pressures. The Royal Society has highlighted the value of this approach: “Because of the risk of multiple hazards and the difficulty in predicting which hazards may occur in a particular area, it is best to build general resilience.” (Royal Society 2014: 53). Carpenter et al (2012) identify a number of conditions that can enable general resilience. They include developing a diverse range of resilience responses, accumulating reserves within a system (e.g. an urban system or transport system) to give it the capacity to regenerate, and progressing social themes such as building leadership and trust. The general resilience approach recognises the diversity of potential hazards that may impact an area, and also that building resilience to one type of hazard can boost wider resilience capacity. Progressing this approach in practice, however, will take the development of supportive legislation, policy and guidance frameworks at national and regional levels that are focused on driving local action. In addition, there will need to be a commitment of resources and political leadership to embed a general resilience approach within planning authorities and other areas of public policy. 24
There are also related knowledge gaps that further research may be able to help overcome, which in respect of spatial planning include: â€˘
There is a need to clarify the role that spatial planning can play within a general resilience approach. This will involve better understanding which interventions and actions spatial planning measures can implement in order to build resilience to a range of diverse and uncertain hazards. It would be useful to identify whether any general resilience conditions (or principles) are particularly important in the context of responding to extreme weather and climate change via spatial planning. Effort and resources can therefore be targeted to developing a better understanding of these themes in locations where exposure and vulnerability to extreme weather and climate change is high.
To conclude, a key challenge to enhancing the resilience building role of spatial planning is that certain barriers currently limiting progress lie outside the remit of the planning system. Some of these are related to gaps in knowledge and understanding, for example concerning climate uncertainty and urban complexity, whereas other barriers are political. There is a need to focus available resources and research capacity on what spatial planning can realistically do to progress its contribution to building resilience to extreme weather and climate change. At the same time it is also necessary to acknowledge that systemic change is ultimately necessary in order to deliver the transformational outcomes that can better equip societies to the challenges associated with extreme weather and climate change. In a fast changing world, both climatically and socioeconomically, the role and contribution of spatial planning to building resilience will need to be monitored and periodically reassessed. For now, it is clear that spatial planning must be positioned as an integral part of a cross cutting response to building resilience to the multiple hazards that challenge societies. It is hoped that the policy recommendations and related knowledge gaps outlined above will help to encourage steps in this direction.
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2016 Green Growth and Sustainable Development Forum
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This issue note was prepared for the 2016 GGSD Forum to steer discussions during the conference, around the theme of “Urban green growth, sp...
Published on Nov 3, 2016
This issue note was prepared for the 2016 GGSD Forum to steer discussions during the conference, around the theme of “Urban green growth, sp...