The Challenge to Local Governance under Rapid Coastal Urbanization
Chapter 2: The Dynamics of Coastal Urbanization
INTRODUCTION Urbanization and climate change are arguably the two most important global phenomena currently shaping future risks and opportunities for human well-being and ecological integrity. Both dynamic processes are symptoms of deeper challenges in global and local political economies (Harvey, 2010). The conjunction of urbanization and climate change is set to be a major theme for development and environmental management in the coming century. This is especially so in coastal zones, which are among the most productive and hazard-prone environments in the world (Michel and Pandya, 2010). This chapter explores patterns of coastal urbanization and looks inside cities to explore the governance and socioeconomic conditions that determine the social and spatial distribution of vulnerability, loss and adaptation to climate-change-associated extreme events. We also touch on mitigation, slower climatic trends and creeping risks when relevant to the central discussion on adaptation to extremes. These slower impacts are more amenable to established planning processes, although it may be that no action is taken until slow trends (for example in drinking water, sea-level rise, temperature or disease vector risks) come close to or cross critical thresholds generating disastrous catalysts for policy change (Pelling, 2010a). Urbanization and climate change are together reshaping landscapes of risk and human security (Bicknell et al., 2009). The expansion of urban settlements into hazard-prone coastal environments (hill slopes, river banks, tidal zones etc.) and local environmental change (deforestation of hill slopes, loss of productive agricultural land and coastal ecosystems as cities expand) generates new hazards. Increased ‘concretization’ in cities...
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