Assessing the resilience, sustainability, and transformability of the future of Latin American cities

Authors: Marta Berbes-Blazquez*, , David Iwaniec, Georgia State University, Darin Wahl, Portland State University, Elizabeth Cook, The New School
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Sustainability Science, Environment
Keywords: scenario planning, climate change, adaptation, resilience, transformation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Napoleon, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 41st Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Current and projected climatic trends highlight the need for transformative change to stay within a safe operating space for humanity. In the absence of strong international agreements, many municipal governments are leading the efforts to build resilience to climate change in general and to extreme weather events in particular. However, it is notoriously difficult to guide and activate processes of change in complex adaptive systems such as cities. Participatory scenario planning with city professionals and members of civil society provides an opportunity to co-produce positive visions of the future. However, not all visions are created equally. In this presentation, we introduce a framework for characterizing resilience, sustainability and transformative change in social-ecological-technological systems based on insights from systems thinking (Meadows), social innovation (Westley) and resilience thinking (Biggs). We then apply the framework to analyze scenario visions created in participatory workshops in the cities of Valdivia (Chile), San Juan (Puerto Rico) and Hermosillo (Mexico) that have some common and some unique climatic challenges. Our analysis allows us to compare not just alternative visions, but also key pathways --and potential obstacles-- that participants identified in fulfilling their future goals, as well as implicit and explicit tradeoffs.

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