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INNOVCITIES Report Summary

Project ID: 659065
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - INNOVCITIES (Institutional Innovation for Adapting to Climate Change in Water Governance within Cities)

Reporting period: 2015-10-19 to 2017-10-18

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

This project explored how cities are adapting to climate change across the globe, centring on institutional aspects. In particular, it focused on institutional innovation which is vital for enabling cities to adapt to climate change because existing institutional arrangements are often under-prepared for new pressures raised. This includes new uncertainties, risks, and contestations linked to changing water availability, flood risk, and the extent to which different societal groups are protected equitably. It is widely appreciated that the failure to address climate change adaptation effectively is often not because of a lack of technical knowledge, but because of failures in governance. Cities are hotspots for climate change adaptation, with disproportionately large potential for finding solutions. Yet exactly what types of institutional innovation are required, and why and how they emerge in different urban governance contexts across the world, is an urgent question. This was the focus of this project. The specific objectives were: 1) To identify and characterise types of institutional innovation occurring in urban water governance in cities across the world; 2) To analyse and understand mechanisms by which institutional innovation in water governance emerges; and 3) To provide research and policy recommendations for enabling institutional innovation in water governance in cities in Europe and beyond.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

This involved a theory-informed global web survey of cities exploring the types, mechanisms, and outcomes of institutional innovation. This Task was expanded compared to the original proposal to maximise the potential for global research and policy impact. The survey originally targeted 30 cities, but was expanded to 60-90 cities. The survey was made available in 7 languages to increase opportunity for equitable participation: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic, Russian. Fully completed response data was obtained for 95 cities (exceeding the upper target), and were well-distributed across 6 continents. N=316 fully completed individual responses were obtained (17% response rate). 68 of these cities received 2 or more replies, increasing data confidence. Data is currently being analysed for academic publications, and a descriptive summary of the findings will be made available in the coming 3 months in a Policy report.

This involved theory-informed case studies exploring types and mechanisms of institutional innovation. The three cities were: Santiago, Chile; Cape Town, South Africa; and Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Santiago had two rounds of fieldwork, Cape Town and Amsterdam both had one round of fieldwork. This task complemented Task 1 by investigating the same dependent variable in greater depth, with more attention to the role of context (e.g. social, political, historical, cultural), and political dynamics of institutional change. 2 papers are currently under review on the comparative case studies, another is being submitted as a book chapter within a edited volume, and others are being prepared.

This involves disseminating findings in academic and policy formats, and exploiting findings for public good benefits for society. It will continue beyond the timeframe of the project. A key means of dissemination is through a Policy Report that will be launched in February 2018 (English, Spanish). This is a 20-30 page report written in language appropriate to policymakers and practitioners, summarising descriptive results of the global survey within a broader narrative on the role of institutional innovation in cities under climate change. This aims to have a reporting as well as an education function (i.e. to explain and raise awareness about institutional innovation). The report will explain the survey methodology to enable other researchers to conduct similar surveys, since such surveys are of increasing interest globally, yet comprehensive guidance is severely lacking.

Various additional activities complemented the research, provided career-building benefits, and contributed to knowledge transfer, including:
*Guest editing 3 journal Special Issues with international colleagues.
*Leading 2 collaborative papers with international teams of scholars in the Earth System Governance Network (on sustainability transformations) and the INOGOV network (on social justice and the 1.5C global climate change target).
*Scientific leadership – I am one of 22 emerging and mid-career scholars from across the globe developing a 10-year science plan for environmental governance research within the Earth System Governance network; stand-in country representative on Management Committee of INOGOV; co-organiser of panel sessions at 3 international conferences, 2 workshops at international conferences, and attendee of 4 international workshops (Oslo, Berlin, Leipzig, and Waterloo, Canada).
*Presented work at 10 international conferences (Sweden, Germany, Scotland, Netherlands, Kenya, Australia), including 1 invited keynote presentation at a Symposium on the Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Germany.
*Participated in 2 social science methods training courses (statistics, process tracing) through the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR).
*Teaching: 4 guest lectures within an MSc p

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

1) Advancing conceptual development of institutional innovation processes. Researchers and policymakers need ways to critically assess whether or not an innovation is durable and likely to 'stick' over time. This project opens up new ways of analysing institutional innovation in practice, and how it can be improved.

2) Developing a large, first-of-its-kind global dataset of institutional innovation for urban water adaptation in cities. Researchers and policymakers need systematic assessments of the types and extent of institutional innovation occurring in cities across the globe. This project provides rigorous systematic data and comparative analysis.

3) Theorising the relationship between institutional innovation and adaptability in urban water governance. To be adaptable, urban governance systems require institutional innovation. This project provides foundational theorising about institutional innovation that complements existing theory on change in institutions and governance systems.

4) Bringing attention to the role of institutional change for climate change adaptation in cities. Institutional barriers (e.g. inertia, lock-in) are often identified, but understanding how institutions may change to overcome these barriers is largely neglected. This project highlights the need for renewed focus on institutions and their dynamics.

5) Testing mechanisms of institutional change from political science in the domain of climate change adaptation. Explaining mechanisms of institutional change is a key topic in political science, and is vastly under-developed in environmental governance. This project provides new conceptual tools for explaining institutional innovation in environmental governance.

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