How to CARE: A feminist intersectional approach to urban climate adaptation

Authors: Ana Terra Amorim Maia*, ICTA-UAB, Isabelle Michele Sophie Anguelovski, ICREA BCNUEJ ICTA UAB, James John Timothy Connolly, BCNUEJ ICTA UAB and UBC, Eric Chu, UC Davis
Topics: Environmental Justice, Urban and Regional Planning, Climatology and Meteorology
Keywords: Climate Adaptation, Environmental Justice, Intersectionality, Resilience, Ethics of Care
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 16
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As an increasing number of cities advance adaptation plans to minimize the effects of climate change, there is growing evidence that adaptation planning and interventions may be exacerbating historic injustices and unequal outcomes. Research indicates that existing adaptation practice denies the role played by differential social vulnerabilities in driving unequal adaptive capacity, thus reproducing or aggravating social-ecological injustices in cities. Despite growing research on adaptation planning and policy, research has yet to shed light on the drivers of differential vulnerabilities and the various approaches to rectify vulnerabilities on the ground and enable adaptive capacity. Intersectionality is a theoretical framework that can help diagnose the causes and drivers of differential social vulnerabilities. In this study, we explore how an intersectional feminist lens can contribute to unpack the drivers of social vulnerability and how specific urban spaces can serve to redress differential vulnerabilities and build communities’ adaptive capacities. To address that question, we assess a series of participatory spatial climate adaptation projects in the city of Barcelona aimed at providing relief from extreme heat in public buildings and spaces such as parks, schools and community facilities. From that experience, we propose a novel model for urban adaptation intervention to build community-wide adaptive capacity and respond to current and future differential vulnerabilities – the Climate Adaptation Refuge (CARE). As a spatial project that operationalizes climate equity through community development and climate resilience, the CARE model presents a set of criteria for researchers and policymakers to strive for a more transformative approach to adaptation

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