Translating the scientific concepts of resilience into a diagnostic tool for urban climate resilience building
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More frequent and severe flooding events due to extreme weather conditions are a number one risk posed by a changing climate for developing and developed countries. Dense urban centers are argued to be especially vulnerable since they host a range of human, economic and natural capital and are subject to unpredictable, indirect knock-on effects. Thus, climate adaptation solutions which reduce the vulnerability of natural and human systems against actual and expected climate change effects are urgently needed. Albeit resilience has gained momentum in the latter approach over the last decades, the understanding of what it entails, or which mechanisms to introduce in order to create resilience in a city system is limited among policy-makers and practitioners. To address this problem, this research aimed at developing a diagnostic tool by which policy-makers can assess the resilience of the current urban system and check their adaptation plans for their resilience benefits according to their fulfillment of resilience principles. The researcher reviewed the relevant scientific literature across different disciplines (i.e. urban and spatial planning, adaptive governance, disaster resilience, ecological resilience, economic resilience, flood resilience) and identified therein stated characteristics to strengthen resilience (termed principles) to create an integrated assessment framework. This consisted of the following principles: Anticipation & foresight, Preparedness & planning ahead, Homeostasis, Diversity, Redundancy, Buffering, Flatness, High flux, Learning and Flexibility. To account for differing disciplinary notions of these principles and improve its diagnostic value for practitioners, principles were further broken down into intermediate principles. Assuming that not all of the theoretically based principles are fit to work in practice, the researcher explored their utility for policy-makers and practitioners in two illustrative case studies and their respective flood risk management approaches: Rotterdam and London. The goal was to find out which principles pose problems, why and improve their practicality. By means of policy analysis and semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders, the current adoption of resilience principles in strategies, measures and institutional contexts was investigated in the two cases. Based on the findings, the framework and its indicators were refined to finally present a diagnostic tool for urban climate resilience building.