Chance2Sustain Session: ICLEI 1st World Congress on Cities and Adaptation to Climate Change; Bonn, Germany; May 29, 2010


The session brought expert practitioners and academics together to inform about the Chance2Sustain project and to discuss issues related to participatory planning in the context of cities vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The session also critically examined aspects of participatory planning: what it looks like as well as strengths and weaknesses associated with this type of development model. Dianne Scott (UKZN) began the session by introducing the contributors and presented the Chance2Sustain project and its goals. Within her introduction, she highlighted the participatory necessity and the goal of improving resilience.


Suranjana Gupta, Coordinator at GROOTS International, began the round of presentations by explaining her work in the field of inclusive adaptation. The topic of her presentation was ‘Driving demand for resilience: grassroots women as agents of adaptation’ and Suranjana explained that she was looking at participatory development as well as disaster risk reduction and resilience. She asked what it meant where knowledge is located and what it means to look at grassroot women knowledge. She explained why whose knowledge counts and matters is a very deep political issue. Suranjana gave an example of women knowledge being used stemming from the time of after the 1993 Maharashtra Earthquake, where women grassroot groups were employed by the government to deliver information from the government to the community and to report back. It was the womens first public role outside their homes and many have remained in their functions. The women also travelled to other areas of later disasters and passed their information on to other women in the effected places. One outcome was that the women developed a programme including 800 women who concluded a range of educational services and funds on health and accessibility to health.

Liliana Miranda Sara began the presentation of Chance2Sustain by introducing her work on concepts for innovative water governance strategies in the Peruvian cities of Lima and Arequipa. Liliana summarized the broader ideas of the research project to be undertaken in Lima and Arequipa as part of Chance2Sustain. She outlined the water related impacts and risks to climate change in Peru, such as the necessary relocation of 2 million people due to the melting glaciers and the reduced availability and access of water and hydropower generation, which are a direct result of the melting glaciers, representing 40% of the countries water stock. Action needs to be undertaken, she underlined. Liliana explained that work needs to be done using the green (nature inside and around the city) and the brown (city quality environment) approach, seeing the city as part of the wider ecosystem (territory). On the level of governance, new actors would be needed to sustainably manage these interactions. Moreover, other actors would have to be incorporated into this process, such as the peasants in the mountain region. It will also be crucial to introduce the idea of adaptation to local, regional and national levels, Liliana explained and added that there needs to be city water risk governance in place. One should try to capitalize on the already existing knowledge of people, thereby involving everyone in a participatory action process. It is necessary to undertake a social construction of knowledge and to use concertation as a political tool for getting concrete agreements into action, Liliana concluded.

Isa Baud began her presentation on ‘Linking participatory learning and knowledge management to urban resilience: introducing the Chance2Sustain programme’ by explaining issues in city growth and sustainable development and explained the main foci of Chance2Sustain, such as finding answers to the questions of how governments and citizens in cities with different patterns of economic growth use participatory spatial knowledge management towards more resilient sustainable development. She continued by introducing the consortium partners EADI, AMIDST, CNRS, SPA, FORO, CEBRAP, NIBR and UKZN and spoke about their organizational background as well as their contribution to the project. Thereafter, Isa explained participatory knowledge management as an instrument to increase adaptive capacity. Different types of knowledge would be recognized, knowledge generation through participatory processes as well as ‘spaces’ analyzed and participatory spatial mapping carried out. Isa concluded her presentation by presenting a framework of participatory knowledge management containing aspects of social capital, economic development, information and communication, strategic leadership and collective competence. This framework would be developed during the course of the Chance2Sustain, so Isa. 


Ulrich Mans produced a presentation on Adaptation vs Mitigation, posing to the participants the questions what is the relationship between adaptation, resilience and mitigation...? as well as and what are the consequences for inclusive action...?. He presented a case study on Cape Town that identified who the main actors in participation in renewable energy policies and in adaptation are. Ulrich compared key aspects of adaptation and mitigation followed by a display of a conceptual view on operational and abstract knowledge. He thereafter outlined a, what he called, financing paradox, stating that while financing prevention is often considered more difficult to finance than response, it seems that adaptation is linked to costs; and mitigation with investment opportunities. For the discussion he posed the question, that if the continuum indeed moves along this line, when and how can we merge current practices in participatory knowledge management for both adaptation and mitigation…? 


In her presentation named ‘Youth and urban climate mitigation and adaptation planning’, Ambika Chawla spoke about the insufficient research on the implications of climate change on young people. She conducted surveys to see what youth leaders are involved in project-wise. The obstacles facing youth organizations involved in the climate protection field and the climate initiatives of these organizations were explained and policy recommendations made, such as the need to ensure that young people have employment within the growing green job sector and the need to increase funding work on the correlation of young people and climate change.


Dianne Scott (UKZN, Durban, South Africa), Isa Baud (UvA, Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Liliana Miranda Sara (FORO, Lima, Peru), Ulrich Mans (UvA, Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Suranjana Gupta (GROOTS, New York, USA), Ambika Chawla (UN-Habitat, Nairobi, Kenya)


The session was opened for questions. A participant asked how the Indian and Peruvian representatives how they engage with private actors, and if they do what type of private actors could be beneficial to their work. On Peru, the participant asked whether concertation includes the private sector.


Suranjana replied that most involvement concerned lending and financials is involved. On the health sector, she stated that medicinal plants were being developed, which include the private sector. In general, the involvement is more in terms of accessing the market in India. She mentioned the example of BP, which markets biofuel stoves through women’s federations in order to support and sustain the local economy (the idea is that bio pallets will create a new local industry for local consumption). Not much was done thus far on including private actors, but there is broad willingness.


Liliana stated that one private company out of 57 institutions was involved. It was not an easy task she noted and said that they exclude themselves. Instead they would lobby behind closed doors with government levels. There are however some CSR oriented actors, especially those who are making money with environmental issues (i.e. bottling companies). Relationships with various large companies are there, but not institutionalized within the Cities for Life working streams. Even though tensions will remain, relations and interaction is needed, Liliana noted. But i.e. mining companies cannot be included, as a matter of ethics.

A further question related to risk mapping and how it is done and what the definition of resilience is for the Indian case was posed to the podium. Suranjana stated that it is basically about recovering from stresses. From a practical, disaster risk reduction point of view, people rely on personal networks and protect what they have. The problem with the poor is that people have other vulnerabilities and cannot prepare for hypothetical disasters. So the discourse in risk management is dominated by people who are focused on early warning, emergency preparedness and humanitarian agencies, she added. This is different from a resilience approach. It is important to educate people and to create awareness about what disasters could do to their lives. Aggregating those perspectives would produce a mapping.