Definitions of event magnitudes, spatial scales, and goals for climate change adaptation and their importance for innovation and implementation

Herle Mo Madsen*, Maj Munch Andersen, Martin Rygaard, Peter Steen Mikkelsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

We examine how core professional and institutional actors in the innovation system conceptualize climate change adaptation in regards to pluvial flooding—and how this influences innovation. We do this through a qualitative case study in Copenhagen with interconnected research rounds, including 32 semi-structured interviews, to strengthen the interpretation and analysis of qualitative data. We find that the term “climate change adaptation” currently has no clearly agreed definition in Copenhagen; instead, different actors use different conceptualizations of climate change adaptation according to the characteristics of their specific innovation and implementation projects. However, there is convergence among actors towards a new cognitive paradigm, whereby economic goals and multifunctionality are linked with cost-benefit analyses for adapting to extreme rain events on a surface water catchment scale. Differences in definitions can lead to both successful innovation and to conflict, and thus they affect the city's capacity for change. Our empirical work suggests that climate change adaptation can be characterized according to three attributes: event magnitudes (everyday, design, and extreme), spatial scales (small/local, medium/urban, and large/national-international), and (a wide range of) goals, thereby resulting in different technology choices.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWater Research
Volume144
Pages (from-to)192-203
Number of pages12
ISSN0043-1354
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • City
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Discourse
  • Innovation
  • Stormwater

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