Climate Adaptation Planning and Public Life

Gehl Institute is pleased to release our beta set of public life indicators for climate adaptation planning, or resilience projects.

Too often, the approach to mitigating the effects of climate change lacks a long-term vision incorporating environmental, social, physical, and economic benefits. We have found that the values ascribed to different aspects of resilience vary greatly and generally prioritize direct physical protection over social benefits. For example, a seawall may keep coastal residents safer, but can its design also enhance the public space it both creates and protects?

Making cities more resilient can have many co-benefits that positively shape everyday life for residents. Our indicators make clear these potential connections between social resilience, public life, and climate preparedness, to be used by city agencies, urban designers, and others.

In response to this challenge, our framework offers a way to identify public space and public life opportunities in climate adaptation projects. It also offers guidelines for how to track success once a project is implemented. The indicators can be used as a pre- and post-intervention assessment tool for evaluating how public life participates in enhancing social resilience and quality of life, which could then fit into a future iteration of cost-benefit analysis.  

Ultimately, the goal of the framework is to change practice in the urban design, engineering, and city planning sectors by encouraging more climate adaptation planning projects to integrate public life as a guiding principle into their processes and objectives. The tool assists stakeholders involved in climate adaptation efforts–including but not limited to city agencies, developers, designers, and community groups–in achieving this.

If you’re interested in finding out more, please download our slide presentation on the Framework here.

The framework is in a beta phase and will be used in the San Francisco Sea Wall public life study as a first test case in 2018. If you are interested in finding out more and/or using some of the indicators, please reach out. We are looking for more test sites and are always seeking to expand our community of practice!