Session 26: Urban social and institutional responses to global environmental change


Session Abstract

Apart from the quantitative significance of cities as contributors to the global carbon footprint, urban areas also play a crucial qualitative role in devising responses to climate change. Cities are the places where most social innovations emerge, reflecting social needs and values on the rise. They provide enabling environments within which integrated solutions addressing complex sustainability problems can be created and trialed across institutional boundaries. Cities are equally the cradle of governance innovations that provide and accommodate experimental configurations to trigger, accelerate, couple and/or rescale social innovations. In addition, cities are increasingly recognized by national governments and supra-national organizations (EU, UN) as solution incubators, helping to learn about alternative and effective response strategies across scales.

Recent examples illustrate how social and governance innovations can become connected systemically in cities to form a crucial driver for multi-domain transitions and multi-scale resilience. In a number of places, activities following this pattern can be observed including, e.g., social solidarity hubs (Rotterdam), social gardening for green space provision (Seoul), crowd-sourced neighborhood developments (Spain, Greece), or novel types of partnerships between diverse urban stakeholders (e.g., Rotterdam, Copenhagen, Brighton, Stockholm, Seoul). These examples represent learning experiments that integrate social and governance innovations. This session discussed different cases of social and governance innovations in cities responding to climate change in terms of mitigation, adaptation and/or transformation. Key questions addressed include:

  • What are conditioning factors for the emergence of climate change-relevant social and governance innovations in cities?
  • What is the role of landscape pressures, cultural change, higher-level policy frameworks and translocal networks in this?
  • What are the dynamic and nested relationships between social innovation and institutional innovation in cities and across scales?
  • How can we design urban governance frameworks that drive social and institutional innovations in response to global climate change?

Keywords: vulnerability, resilience, mitigation, adaptation, spatial planning, climate policy, social innovation, urban governance, policy learning, sustainability transitions, adaptive capacity, transformative capacity



Sue-Ching Jou, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

Marc Wolfram, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea



Szu-Hua Wang, Chinese Culture University, Taipei, Taiwan

Presentation Title: Synergies and trade-offs of urban spatial planning in mitigating and adapting to climate change in Taiwan

Shailendra Mandal, National Institute of Technology, Patna, India

Presentation Title: Making climate adaptation work: Strategies for resource constrained Indian Cities

Keng-Ming Hsu, National University of Tainan, Tainan, Taiwan

Presentation Title: Coping with climate change in urban Taiwan: Lessening urban vulnerability and strengthening social resilience

Sue-Ching Jou, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

Presentation Title: Adaptive city and local climate policies in Taiwan: Institutional alignment and policy transfer

John Robinson, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Presentation Title: Emergent dialogue, municipal climate response, and imaginary words: Exploring climate change innovation and engagement processes at the community scale


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