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Sustainable Cities: Governing Urban Adaptation Under Climate Change

University of Groningen and Global Center on Adaptation via FutureLearn


Learn how cities can successfully adapt to environmental change

Ongoing rapid urbanisation in combination with climate change and environmental degradation is presenting humanity with considerable challenges. Half of the global population now lives in cities and urban environments are facing serious challenges in dealing with climate change related risks, including the risks posed by more extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and heat waves, as well as rising sea levels.

Urbanisation is a leading driver of environmental change and resource depletion – a trend that will only accelerate as cities grow ever bigger.

In this course, you will investigate how governance strategies and policies for making cities more sustainable and resilient in the face of increasing climate risks can be financed and implemented.

Explore how cities can adapt to climate change

You will analyse the physical, social, and spatial processes that are shaping current climate-related risks in urban environments.

Using real-world case studies, you will investigate and discuss the governance challenges posed by successful urban adaptation to climate change.

Discover how to achieve sustainable urban development

Focusing on the role of governance and urban planning, you will identify how targeted adaptation strategies and finance can help build urban resilience and adapt urban systems to complex risks, thereby moving urban spaces towards a more sustainable future.

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to apply targeted governance strategies to urban environments facing the challenges of a changing climate.

This course would benefit bachelor students or graduates with an interest in adaptive governance and sustainable urban development. It would also appeal to professionals with a public or private sector background and an interest in building skills in tackling climate change.


  • Climate risks and cities
    • Introduction to the course
    • Urbanization
    • Drivers of urbanization
    • Urban adaptation
    • How can telecoupling contribute?
    • Wrapping up Week 1
  • Cities as systems
    • Introduction to urban systems and typologies
    • Social, physical and spatial dimensions of urban systems
    • Urban planning
    • Digital systems and smart cities
    • Wrapping up Week 2
  • Governing urban adaptation
    • Urban adaptation governance
    • Adaptation governance in practice
    • Barriers to urban adaptation

Taught by

Karsten Schulz


4.7 rating at FutureLearn based on 11 ratings

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