Addressing climate change adaptation in the cities of the Global South is crucial as they are the most at risk and, arguably, the least capable of coping with it due to their rapid expansion, informal development, and limited institutional capacity. This paper explores this challenge in the case of Chennai, India, a city which, in recent years, has faced several climate related disasters, including floods. Building on an innovative combination of research methods (policy documents analysis, stakeholder interviews, and a community workshop), the study analyses the barriers and explores potentials for operationalising socio-ecological resilience in Chennai in the face of an ongoing conflict between rapid urbanisation and the natural water system, compromising the region’s hydrological capacity and resilience to flooding. In particular, drawing on the notion of evolutionary resilience and multi-level approach, the paper investigates (1) the scope for developing an integrated vision for resilience of the Chennai region (macro level); (2) the presence and the capacity of institutions to connect the different stakeholders and mediate their interests (meso level); and (3) the barriers and potentials developing local adaptation strategies in a bottom-up manner (micro level). The study sheds light on the under-researched issue of socio-ecological resilience in Chennai, while identifying potentials for implementing it through a combination of top down and bottom-up approaches, which in turn provides useful lessons for planning for resilience in other cities in the Global South.
- climate change adaptation
- spatial planning