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Enhancing stakeholder collaboration in risk sensitive urban planning

Ganeshu, Pavithra

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Pavithra Ganeshu



The impact of climate change poses serious challenges to sustainable urban development, with people experiencing frequent extreme events such as floods, landslides, heat waves and storms. One of the explanations for the increasing risks and impacts is that the development activities of the countries and disaster risk reduction decision-making processes occur in silos, conducted by different agencies, institutions and other actors with differing priorities, perspectives, and time horizons. Therefore, a multi-agency approach to risk-sensitive urban planning (RSUP) has been recognised as being paramount for building resilience against climate change. Emerging economies struggle more than developed countries to manage urban development by mainstreaming disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA), as well as managing the negative impact of disasters. Thus, this study investigates the inter-organisational changes required for enhancing multi-agency collaboration when considering the impact of climate-induced risks as a key element in urban planning in the emerging economies context, taking Sri Lanka as a case study.
The study adopted a case study strategy consisting of 20 semi-structured interviews from national and local level experts and 77 document reviews covering policies, laws, urban plans, national documents, and reports, followed by thematic analysis. As a result, the study identified the barriers and enablers for enhancing stakeholder collaboration in RSUP under five themes: administrative environment, working culture, information and knowledge sharing, organisational capacity, and collaboration process. Furthermore, the study used causal loop diagrams (CLD) as a way of capturing and externalising how various practices and interventions can be propagated through the organisational systems to create conditions that influence the implementation of RSUP. This system modelling approach allows policymakers to see the interrelationships and feedback loops that may not be apparent in traditional linear cause-and-effect thinking and, therefore, will help to identify leverage points in the system to create a positive transformation and impact regarding RSUP. This system analysis helped to identify the key policy changes required for facilitating stakeholder collaboration, including the establishment of mandated collaboration procedures with a clear definition of stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities, the need for power sharing among key stakeholders, and a requirement for continuous collaborative policy evaluations and updates. The study also investigated a suitable collaborative governance arrangement that is conducive to RSUP. The study shows that a hybrid of hierarchy and network structures with neutral leadership, a balanced top-down and bottom-up approach, and decentralisation alongside necessary powers is a suitable collaborative governance arrangement for supporting RSUP.
Moreover, this study developed an inter-organisational collaboration maturity grid that will allow organisations to define a pathway to transform their collaboration maturity and to measure it as they transform their practices.
Finally, based on the above outcomes, the study developed a framework that contributes to enhancing stakeholder collaboration in RSUP to support the creation of resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements.
Keywords: risk-sensitive urban planning; stakeholder collaboration; climate change; disaster risk reduction; system thinking; maturity grid.


Ganeshu, P. (2024). Enhancing stakeholder collaboration in risk sensitive urban planning. (Thesis). University of Salford

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 3, 2024
Publicly Available Date Apr 27, 2024
Award Date Mar 26, 2024