A conceptual framework for understanding adaptation planning of urban road infrastructure

CAÑAVERA HERRERA, J.S.; Haigh, S; MacAskill, K and Moncaster, Alice A conceptual framework for understanding adaptation planning of urban road infrastructure. In: 26th World Road Congress, 6-10 Oct 2019, Abu Dhabi.


In the field of adaptation of road infrastructure, several frameworks for decision-making are available, but these have focused mainly on the adaptation of national or regional road network systems. Although the protection of these systems from the possible impacts of climate change is important, protecting road infrastructure in urban contexts is equally important for the efficient functioning of society. Consequently, it is imperative to understand the particularities of adapting road infrastructure in cities, however, existing frameworks may not be appropriate for this purpose. With this in mind, this paper presents a conceptual framework called the “Expanded Adaptation Action Cycles” (EAAC). This framework conceptualizes adaptation planning as an iterative action-learning cycle. In each iteration of the planning cycle, decision-makers implement adaptation actions based on their best current knowledge while at the same time learn how to better adapt their systems in the next iteration. Adaptation can be implemented at different scales (i.e. resistance, incremental adaptation or transformational adaptation) depending on the level of risks expected and the amount of change desired in the system. Decision-makers, therefore, can decide for adaptation that increases and concentrates investment on existing pathways and practices (resistance), creates marginal changes in the system (incremental adaptation), or generates fundamental change to the functioning of the system (transformational adaptation). A case study of the decision-making processes for the development and maintenance of the road network of Bogotá, Colombia was conducted to demonstrate the utility of this framework in an urban setting. Transport planners in Bogotá are currently trying to increase their understanding of the possible impacts of climate change over its principal road infrastructure through a study called “Red Vial Vital”. Additionally, the main adaptation actions expected for the city are the use of “green infrastructure” and sustainable urban drainage systems. Analysing the information using the EAAC framework indicates that the city is currently at the early stages of its adaptation planning and that the adaptation measures being considered suggest that, at most, the city is aiming for implementing incremental adaptation. Moreover, the analysis identified the presence of barriers to effective adaptation planning specific to cities such as a high degree of decentralization of urban authority. This shows how the EAAC framework provides the ability to understand the relative position of a city’s approach to adaptation planning within a wider spectrum of possibilities, providing insight into the potential impact of possible planning interventions.

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