Climate Change Adaptation

'City Waterfall' Melbourne by Melburnian, Flickr

Water from flooded Flinders Street in Melbourne running down to the Yarra River. Photo credit: 'City Waterfall' Melbourne by melburnian, Flickr.

How can cities and communities best plan for climate change?

This program seeks to understand future climate change risks and to explore how cities, communities and individuals can best adapt to climate change in the context of complex socio-ecological stress.

Research focus

The Climate Change Adaptation Program (CCAP) focuses on how cities and communities might best respond to the complexity of global environmental change and adapt to the on-the-ground issues associated with a changing climate. The approach of the Program is based on the integration of quantitative, qualitative, and participatory methodologies. Its activity is deliberately multi-disciplinary, cutting across academic schools and disciplines, as well as being shaped by new forms of engagement between scientific, policy, and wider stakeholder communities.

Description of program

Whilst adaptation of the urban environment is the centre of research attention, the Program applies an analytical prism that enables research questions to be tackled according to different hazards, sectors, spatial scales and case-study locations. This allows us to gain wider insight into the conceptual and applied understanding of risk, vulnerability and adaptation. The geographical scope of the Program ranges from the local to the global, with the Asia-Pacific region a particularly important international focus for the program. In pursuit of this multi-level agenda, strong collaborative links are fostered both nationally and across the world. Darryn McEvoy, the Program Leader of CCAP also occupies the role of Deputy Director of the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research (VCCCAR).

Research themes  

The overarching focus of the program is to explore and develop ways in which how cities, communities and individuals can best adapt to climate change in the context of complex socio-ecological stress.

1. Conceptual Research: Critical Analysis of Adaptation Processes

This theme involves critical assessment of what is meant by adaptation in different arenas and how decision-makers can support adaption in practice. Topics of interest include disciplinary framings, the use of scenarios, linkages between adaptation and mitigation.

2. Applied Research: Characterization and Assessment of Climate-Related Risks and Evaluation of Potential Adaptation Options

Here ‘systems’ analysis of cities, towns, and communities is central; as well as more detailed analyses of different ‘elements at risk’ in the urban environment including infrastructure, buildings, the space between buildings, and people.

3. Institutional Dimensions of Adaptation

Consideration of structural driving forces (political, economic, cultural and ecological) are crucial to understanding institutional adaptive management, as is understanding the barriers to (and opportunities for) change, and the importance of adaptation as a learning process. Of particular interest is the interaction and ’fit’ of bottom-up approaches (e.g., local narratives, equity considerations, and the building of adaptive capacity) with top-down structures and processes (e.g., international agreements and national strategies).

 4. Bridging the Science/Policy Interface

This theme focuses on the translation of conceptual and applied understanding of adaptation into best-practice guidance for a range of different policy and practitioner end-users. The theme distils knowledge from Research Themes 1 to 3 and integrates it with governance and urban-management processes to promote more strategic pathways to climate-resilient communities. Innovative aspects are also being explored—for instance, new ways of communicating climate change, cities as laboratories of innovation etc.

5. Capacity Strengthening in the Asia-Pacific Region

Here, we are interested in a combination of research activity and shared learning about adaptation and sustainable urban development in the Asia-Pacific region. We actively promote the sharing of knowledge and associated methodologies in order to contribute to the strengthening of local adaptive capacity. Special emphasis is placed on collaborative activities in Vietnam, Bangladesh and the Pacific Island nations


For more information on CCAP, please contact the Program Manager, Jane Mullett.