Socio-Economic Projections in Urban Climate Change Adaptation Planning: Practices and Prospects for Just Adaptation

Mia Prall, Marta Olazabal, Martin Lehmann
Posted on: 11/21/2023 - Updated on: 11/21/2023

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Urban climate change adaptation efforts have often been criticized for exacerbating the inequitable impacts of climate change by failing to address the social, economic, and environmental impacts of adaptation. There is an urgent need to incorporate equity and justice concerns in adaptation planning as well as approaches and tools that enable such integration. However, climate justice scholarship to date has largely focused on theoretical questions and there is still a lack of focus on the operational aspects for supporting the implementation of climate justice.

In this article, we argue that existing tools already in use in planning practice have the potential to support this aim. In particular, we argue that the integration of socio-economic data into adaptation planning practice could be an avenue for justice-centered urban adaptation. While the potential is clear, how to do this is still underexplored.

To shed light on this question, we conduct a systematic review of research on the use of socio-economic projections in urban climate change adaptation planning and decision-making to investigate how these could be used as a tool to ensure just urban adaptation. Grounded in a recognized conceptual framework on urban climate justice, we analyze the evolution of research on socio-economic projections in urban adaptation and evaluate the potential for existing applications to promote climate justice.

Through this analysis, we find that while socio-economic projections have not been explicitly linked to justice outcomes in the existing literature, clear potentials exist for these to be used as a tool to promote distributive, procedural, and recognition and restorative justice. Finally, we propose an operational framework for the application of socio-economic projections to promote justice-centered urban adaptation.

Applying such a framework to urban adaptation planning can help center justice concerns in larger strategic adaptation planning efforts and enable a new form of more inclusive, data-driven climate governance in cities based on current know-how and existing capacities.


Mia Prall, Marta Olazabal, Martin Lehmann. Socio-Economic Projections in Urban Climate Change Adaptation Planning: Practices and Prospects for Just Adaptation. Habitat International, 142: 102946.


Document Type
Adaptation Phase
Sector Addressed
Sociopolitical Setting
Target Climate Changes and Impacts

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