Competitive resilience & urban adaptation finance: whose risk do we value in climate adaptation?

Authors: Vanessa Lueck*, Arizona State University
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Urban Geography, Global Change
Keywords: urban climate adaptation, public-private partnerships, risk, value, finance
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 6
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urban climate adaptation often requires extensive financing. Unfortunately, many urban centers in the United States are cash strapped. One approach to obtain the financing despite tax and bond limitations is to partner with private investors and developers. This appears to be a win-win approach. The city has access to funding that otherwise would be unavailable, the finances can be used for needed adaptation infrastructure and the investors and developers provide desired urban growth while earning a profit. However, to achieve these public-private partnerships cities often must turn to quasi-public agencies such as community redevelopment agencies, special districts and special-purpose governments. These organizations do not need to abide by the same accountability and transparency standards that fully public organizations do. In consequence, these organizations have extensive power over what kind of development or investment occurs without public oversight. Through case studies of Miami and Boston, this article examines what land these public partnerships are developing with a focus on: (1) if there are people who will be forced to move; (2) if the land aligns with former redlining; and (3) if any and what kind of adaptation infrastructure is being developed on this land. Although the public-private partnerships are driving urban climate adaptation for some, these partnerships and adaptations also appear to transfer risk to other populations. These findings raise questions about what risks and whose risks we value in urban climate adaptation.

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