Alexei Trundle & Darryn Mcevoy, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Presentation Title: Resilience, the optimization paradox and green infrastructure: Ecosystem-based adaptation lessons from the land of droughts and flooding rains




This presentation examined the interface between the complex, variable and inter-related effects of climate change and the equally multi-faceted, co-beneficial implementation of Urban Green Infrastructure (UGI). Building on findings from a recently-completed assessment of the potential for application of this ecosystem-based adaptation approach in Melbourne, three arguments are put forward.

Firstly, to avoid the ‘optimization paradox’ evident in the recent southeast Australian experience, a system-wide approach to urban adaptation and development – encompassing multiple thresholds and stressors – is necessary. Secondly, adaptation options where benefits, spatial applicability and governance are equally complex emerge as being central to enhancing urban resilience. Finally, UGI reductions in Melbourne concurrent to UGI expansion across Europe, North America and Asia demonstrates the crucial role of the availability, variability and applicability of water in the application and management of urban ecosystem-based adaptation strategies.


Key Lessons Learned

  • Urbanization is a dynamic process, which interacts with climate change as well as local climatic conditions. However a more fundamental function is the interaction between the human behavioral and socio-cultural patterns that underpin urbanization, and the surrounding environment.
  • Strategies to improve the urbanization process (whether through reducing a city’s global footprint, or improving livability) require an understanding of the urban system’s boundaries, limits and externalities.
  • ‘Livability’ reflects the subjective values associated with perceptions of what an urban environment should contain as well as how it should interact with its inhabitants. 


Policy/Practice Implications of Research

  • Linking benefits and costs to stakeholders and sectors is central to creating change and understanding the urban system.
  • Stakeholder ’definitions’ of key concepts can have long-term and wide-reaching implications.
  • Understanding and integrating both climatic and non-climate shifts spatially and dynamically is central to measuring vulnerability and risk.


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