Unlocking the potential for transformative climate adaptation in cities

Cities are increasingly integrating climate adaptation priorities into development policies and plans. However, there remains a gap in understanding how incremental urban adaptation solutions can lead to more transformative change over the long term. Transformative adaptation reorients urban climate actions around addressing entrenched equity and climate justice challenges. It focuses on systemic changes to development processes that improve people’s quality of life, enhance the social and economic vibrancy of cities, and ensure sustainable, resilient, and inclusive urban futures. This paper systematically reviews literature and case studies across the global north and south to assess the barriers and enablers to transformative climate adaptation, focusing on examples and evidence from a wide range of cities.