Complexity Theory, Spatial Planning and Adaptation to Climate Change

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Advances in Global Change Research, 2012, 48 pp. 43 - 65
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© 2012, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. This chapter analyses several concepts of Complexity Theory as regards their usefulness in spatial planning processes that aim to foster adaptation to climate change. The conditions under which a complex system is likely to change to higher levels of complexity are seen as important when this system needs to deal with and adapt to climatic changes. This understanding is used to develop a framework in which these changes can be examined and explained. Supported by examples from various European countries, four different planning strategies (planning for mitigation, sectored adaptation, integrated adaptation and flexible adaptation) are positioned within the framework. We conclude that each of these strategies fills its own niche in the framework, that all strategies together describe the behaviour of a complex system and that flexible adaptation planning is most likely to facilitate a system change. When this reasoning is reversed and the question concerns which planning strategy fits in best with the demands imposed by climatic change (e.g. for a system change), flexible adaptation planning is seen as the most suitable option.
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