Climate change adaptation in Metro Vancouver: The role of boundary organizations and advocacy planning
Graham, Alexandra Jade
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City planners have an opportunity to act as agents of change to build resilience within their cities to respond to climate change. With climate change rapidly changing urban environments, it is critical that municipal planners are advocating for adaptation based on the latest science. Advocacy planning was proposed in the mid-twentieth century as an alternative to the rational comprehensive planning model. However, in the current era, the rational comprehensive model still dominates planning environments and climate change adaptation guides. Using a case study in Metro Vancouver, I interviewed municipal practitioners about their experience planning for climate change adaptation. Results demonstrate that municipal practitioners can have conflicting views regarding their responsibility to advocate for climate change adaptation planning. Practitioners feel responsible for the health and safety of their constituents, but also feel responsible to act on behalf of the views of their constituents and council. This thesis explores this tension and proposes strategies for urban planners to position themselves as advocates for climate change adaptation planning. Additionally, this thesis builds on urban climate governance research to focus on how city planners’ partnerships with boundary organizations influence adaptation planning within cities. At the root of effective urban climate governance is the integration of science and policy. Boundary organizations offer a governance approach that disseminates knowledge, builds capacity, and engages more participants in the adaptation planning process. However, little is known about how these partnerships foster adaptation at the local scale. Using a case study in Metro Vancouver, this study investigated how boundary organizations can better support municipal adaptation action. This case study builds on existing theory on local adaptation planning by incorporating concepts from organizational change theory. The results of this study demonstrated that boundary organizations were perceived as more influential when they were credible, legitimate, and salient, as well as when they provided action-oriented support. Ultimately, this paper contributes to the literature by illustrating how boundary organizations operate at the sub-regional scale to foster adaptation and proposing tangible administrative practices to improve the effectiveness of these partnerships.