Planning for climate change in a flood-prone community: municipal barriers to policy action and the use of visualizations as decision-support tools


Sarah Burch, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 3QY, UK
Tel: +44 01865 275 861


Efforts are intensifying to design effective flood management strategies that account for a changing climate and that make use of the wealth of resources and latent capacities associated with action at the local level. Municipalities, however, are subject to a host of challenges and barriers to action, revealing the critical need for sophisticated participatory processes in support of municipal decision-making under conditions of considerable uncertainty. This paper examines a new process for envisioning local climate change futures, which uses an iterative, collaborative, multistakeholder approach to produce computer-generated 3-dimensional images of climate change futures in the flood-prone municipality of Delta, British Columbia, Canada. The process appeared to forge communicative partnerships, which may improve the legitimacy and effectiveness of the flood management and climate change response discourse in the municipality of Delta, and may lead to locally specific and integrated flood management and climate change response strategies. We concluded that, while an enabling context and normative pressures are clearly integral to effective action, so too is the type and mode of presentation of information about climate futures.