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Home > PUBLICATIONS > Featured Publications

Featured Publications

February 24, 2018

Emergence of new knowledge for climate change adaptation

Marta Olazabal, Aline Chiabai, Sébastien Foudi, Marc B. Neumann


Decision-making for climate change adaptation requires an integrated and cross-sectoral approach to adequately capture the complexity of interconnected systems. More meaningful decisions can be taken in an arena where different agents provide knowledge of specific domains. This paper uses a semi-quantitative method based on cognitive mapping to demonstrate how new knowledge emerges when combining knowledge from diverse agents. For the case of heatwaves in the city of Madrid (Spain) we elicit knowledge about climatic impacts across urban sectors and potential adaptation options. Knowledge is elicited in individual interviews and then aggregated using fuzzy cognitive maps. We observe that the individual maps vary considerably in size and structure and find evidence of diverse and even contradictory perceptions. There is no “super-stakeholder”, who theoretically could provide full knowledge about mechanisms operating in this urban system: the maximum percentage of the final aggregated map explained by a single individual is 26% in terms of concepts and 13% in terms of connections. We illustrate how the emergence of new knowledge can be sustained by combining scientific and policy expertise. Our approach supports knowledge co-production and allows to account for the interconnectedness of urban sectors under climatic impacts in view of formulating more robust adaptation strategies.

The world is in the midst of the largest wave of urban growth in history. With more than half the population already living in cities, and further rises expected, the health of city dwellers is crucial to global well-being.

Throughout history, many of the innovations designed to improve city living have instead posed a challenge to having a healthy, happy life. Urban environments designed around the car, for instance, promote a sedentary lifestyle.

Read more here

Urban health and well-being

Richard Hodson, Nature 531, S49 (16 March 2016)

The rise of the urbanite

Stephanie Pain, Nature 531, S50–S51 (16 March 2016)

Mobility: The urban downshift

Sarah DeWeerdt, Nature 531, S52–S53 (16 March 2016)

Flooding: Water potential

James M. Gaines, Nature 531, S54–S55 (16 March 2016)

Green space: A natural high

Natasha Gilbert, Nature 531, S56–S57 (16 March 2016)

Stress: The privilege of health

Amy Maxmen, Nature 531, S58–S59 (16 March 2016)

Perspective: City farming needs monitoring

Andrew A. Meharg, Nature 531, S60 (16 March 2016)

Disease: Poverty and pathogens

Michael Eisenstein, Nature 531, S61–S63 (16 March 2016)

Policy: Urban physics

Kevin Pollock

Nature 531, S64–S66 (16 March 2016)

Cities are complex environments. Planning interventions that borrow principles from theoretical physics could help to improve peoples' lives.

Subject terms: Society Complexity Theoretical physics