Incremental change, transition or transformation? Optimising change pathways for climate adaptation in spatial planning

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Sustainability, 2012, 4 (10), pp. 2525 - 2549
Issue Date:
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In order to incorporate climate adaptation in spatial planning change is required, because climate change impacts the way we live. This implies that spatial planning, as the arranger of the spatial organisation and layout needs to be able to support this change. Current spatial planning is not yet well equipped to play this role. In this research article three possible routes to navigate change are explored. Incremental change is seen as a slow process, which modifies the landscape only slightly. Transition is seen as a fluent change towards a new future, which is an improved version of the existing; and transformation is seen as a change towards a future that is fundamentally different from the existing. The three pathways are compared and it is concluded that transformational change offers the best perspective in dealing with uncertain, unexpected and unprecedented futures, such as developing in times of climate change. Therefore, transformation is theoretically further elaborated and it is found that a transformational change to a new system already starts at a time when the existing system still fully operates. The change to a new system (called B in this article) therefore already started and the predecessors of B already existed. These 'B-minuses' of the new system can be found through network analysis, where the most intense and connective nodes are the most likely 'B-minuses'. Alternatively B-minuses can be created through locating the areas where key-nodes and existing infrastructure can be related to existing urban functions. As illustrated in the case-study design, these principles are able to guide the design of a climate proof landscape. © 2012 by the authors.
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