A framework to examine the adaptive capacity of peri-urban institutions in a changing and uncertain future

18:00 Tuesday 28 May




Sharlene L. Gomes (Netherlands) 1; Leon M. Hermans (Netherlands) 1

1 - Delft University of Technology

Water security in peri-urban areas of India is under threat from urbanization and climate change. These peri-urban areas are located near expanding cities and experience a rural to urban transition that is visible in land use, economic activities, and population. The dynamic nature of this context and future uncertainty calls for an adaptive approach to peri-urban water management. The institutional context is a key factor in the design of adaptive pathways, where institutions refer to rules used in decision making such as laws, regulations, customs, and norms. Understanding how peri-urban stakeholders currently cope with vulnerability and resilience through institutional change provides lessons for implementing an adaptive approach in this context.

The objective of this research is to design a conceptual framework to examine the adaptive capacity of peri-urban institutions. It focuses on the use of information by stakeholders to change institutions as a response to peri-urban risks such as water insecurity.

The study explores relevant literature on institutional change, adaptive governance, and resilience. The fields of economics and political science contain frameworks to analyze institutions that are suitable start points. Theories about institutional change highlight learning as a key driver of institutional change. Yet the mechanism of change is not entirely captured in the institutional frameworks that exist. Reference is therefore made to theories on adaptive governance and resilience for further clarity on this. These theories also refer to the role of learning in building resilient institutions, and further describe that accessing and utilizing information is a collective effort. These insights serve to further elaborate specific relations within the framework.

A framework is presented to examine the adaptive capacity of peri-urban institutions. The study presents potential attributes of vulnerability and resilience relevant to this context. Published research from peri-urban case studies provide a basis for their identification and serve as indicators of adaptive capacity. Future application of this framework as part of the H2O-Transitions to Sustainability (H2O-T2S) project is outlined. This includes the empirical study of vulnerability and resilience in peri-urban Kolkata, Pune, and Hyderabad in India with regards to water access. Finally, the research highlights other potential uses of this framework, beyond peri-urban contexts, where similar institutional responses are needed to build resilience against climate change.