Urban climate awareness and urgency to adapt: An international overview

I have had the honour of being part of a research team led by Professor Sanda Lenzholzer and Professor Robert Brown. In this research we investigated the awareness of typical urban climate phenomena and sense of urgency to adapt through expert interviews in several countries worldwide. I carried out the New Zealand part of this investigation, which has previously been presented at the 10th International Urban Design Conference. The full paper about the New Zealand study was also published in the conference’s proceedings and can be downloaded here.

The results of this study are to be published in two parts. The first one has recently been published, is open access and available through Science Direct.


The paper abstract is below:

Urban climate manifests itself through thermal and wind environments specific to cities and can cause wind danger or overheating. Cities can benefit from preventing these effects through adaptation measures. However, before any action can be taken in improving these urban climate conditions, an awareness of the problems is needed. Numerous studies show that there is awareness of urban climate extremes as a problem, yet that knowledge lacks amongst different actors in society, and may further differ between countries. Therefore, we conducted an international study on the awareness levels regarding urban climate phenomena and the sense of urgency to act within four groups: citizens, local politicians, urban planners and designers, and urban climate experts. Semi-structured interviews with experts in ten countries worldwide were conducted. Results indicate that the urgency to adapt to climate change was acknowledged rather equally for the four groups of actors. In contrast, awareness of urban climate phenomena (urban heat islands and urban wind patterns) amongst citizens and politicians is rather low in most countries. Amongst urban planners and designers and the urban climate experts we observed a generally high awareness regarding urban climate phenomena. Raising awareness requires tailor-made strategies for specific needs of the different actor groups.

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