PROSPECTS OF TWINNING CLIMATE CHANGE AND URBAN SUSTAINABILITY ISSUES THROUGH TRANSFORMATIVE ADAPTATION: LESSONS FOR AFRICAN CITIES

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N Chanza

Abstract

In most African cities, existing approaches to tackle climate change and sustainability issues have remained largely
weak, piecemeal and fragmented. For example, current adaptation practices are mainly focusing on ‘adapting to’
climatic disturbances instead of ‘adapting with’ the vulnerable urban population. This approach views climate change
as the main source of vulnerability and focuses on protecting systems from weather and climatic events. It grossly
ignores the social roots of vulnerability and misses out on opportunities such as those that emerge when climatic
risks are jointly treated with environmental sustainability concerns. To evade this problem, this paper proposes a shift
towards transformative adaptation, an approach that comprehensively attend to the entire urban socio-ecological
system. The aim is to contribute to the discourse of inclusive cities by examining the prospects of simultaneously
addressing climate change alongside other urban development challenges. Drawing on growing literature and reports
on climate change adaptation in cities, I argue that the adjustment approach does not comprehensively address the
underlying urban vulnerabilities and fail to match the severity of climate change impacts being experienced. On the
contrary, a transformative approach locates urban risk beyond the biophysical environment to the entire urban socialecological
system.
Thus,
this
approach is capable of jointly
dealing with
climate change and other urban development
challenges
as
it holistically deals
with the underlying vulnerability
risks
in urban settlements
while addressing
the


root


causes of urban unsustainability. African cities can draw useful lessons from the benefits that come with a
transformative adaptation trajectory.

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