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Governance Challenges of Flood-prone Delta Cities

by Dr. Maria Francesch-Huidobro

Integrating Flood Risk Management and Climate Change in Spatial Planning

Delta cities are increasingly exposed to the risks of climate change, particularly to flooding. As a consequence, a variety of new spatial development visions, strategies, plans and programmes are being developed by city governments in delta regions to address these risks and challenges. Dr. Maria Francesch-Huidobro, a consultant to KAS RECAP, co-authored a publication on examining infrastructural and climate-related problems of urban planning in delta cities.

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This paper examines the nature of visions, strategies, plans and programmes in the delta cities of Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Rotterdam which are highly exposed to flooding and connected through a network of epistemic communities.

The paper follows two main lines of inquiry.

  • First, it examines the terms, concepts, and dominant institutional characteristics associated with the development of these visions, strategies, plans and programmes as a way of constructing a conceptual framework for understanding and explaining their connectivity.
  • Second, it explores how and why cities’ spatial plans and governance dynamics are shaping climate adaptation responses. The systematic development of conceptual frameworks and in-depth analyses of varied, representative case studies is needed as their findings have important implications for vulnerability and adaptation in terms of policy options and cities.
The paper finds that dominant institutional characteristics critically affect the steering capacity of organisations/agencies (including their coordination capacity) to address climate-related risks. The findings have important implications for vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in cities, in general and delta cities, in particular.

The content of this report does not reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Responsibility for the information and views expressed therein lies entirely with the authors.

The paper is available at

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