Can Citizen Sensing Contribute to Adaptive governance?

09:00 Thursday 30 May


Room S1


Sara Santos Cruz (Portugal) 1; Paulo Conceição (Portugal) 1; Sirkku Juhola (Sweden) 2; Ana Monteiro (Portugal) 1; Filipa Malafaya (Portugal) 1; Paula Gonçalves (Portugal) 1; Tina-Simone Neset (Sweden) 2

1 - CITTA - University of Porto; 2 - Linköping University

Cities are locations where climate impacts will take place, and where new and adaptive ways of governance need to be realised. Governing urban climate risks is not simply about understanding how hazards and impacts are related to risks, but rather about adopting iterative, adaptive and participatory risk analysis and management. Identifying and understanding local climate risks is a long but essential process to define adaptation strategies. Ultimately, these strategies should embrace ways to reduce harmful impacts, when unpredictable and unforeseen events occur. Moreover, the increasing complexity of risks in societal and environmental systems demands integrated and adaptive approaches to deal with those events.

Uncertainty is inseparable from climate change risk assessments, due to uncertainties inherent to predictions of environmental phenomena and consequent climate risks. Thus, in a changing world in diverse and unpredictable directions, governance must be able to respond to how social-ecological systems can adapt to these situations. The concept of adaptive governance has emerged as a step forward in governance to deal with climate adaptation, and has previously been defined as a process ‘by which institutional arrangements and ecological knowledge are tested and revised in a dynamic, ongoing, self-organized process of learning by doing’. In spite of differences amongst authors, Adaptive governance is perceived as having the potential to mediate complexity and uncertainty in social-ecological systems. The implicit collaborative approach encompasses power-sharing and co-production of knowledge among governmental institutions, communities and the citizens. Some authors point out as main attributes of adaptive governance: experimentation, learning and participation. In this line of thought, broad citizen participation is an essential feature of these processes and this paper discusses the role of citizen sensing, as part of a participatory risk management system, contributing to adaptive governance. Citizen sensing is defined as citizens acting as sensors to collect and send information to relevant authorities / organizations responsible for climate risk management, for co-development of advanced climate services to strengthen urban climate resilience.

This paper explores how a participatory risk management system (PRMS) based essentially on ‘citizen sensing’ can contribute to adaptive governance, using an evaluation methodology comprising criteria from the referred main attributes of adaptive governance. As part of the European project Citizen Sensing, the paper compares three pilot cities: Norrköping, Porto and Rotterdam, exploring their contextual differences (geographical, institutional, political, and others) in order to investigate and conclude on the potentialities and challenges faced when integrating these approaches.