The Contribution of Public Spaces to Climate Change Adaptation in Austrian Cities

Weichselbaumer, Roswitha and Damyanovic, Doris and Reinwald, Florian (2022) The Contribution of Public Spaces to Climate Change Adaptation in Austrian Cities. Mobility, Knowledge and Innovation Hubs in Urban and Regional Development. Proceedings of REAL CORP 2022, 27th International Conference on Urban Development, Regional Planning and Information Society. pp. 767-780. ISSN 2521-3938

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Cities and urban areas are particularly affected by the impacts of climate change, especially by rising temperatures and more frequent and heavier rainfall events. Adapting spatial development to the consequences of climate change is being increasingly anchored as a goal in Austrian and European policies and planning strategies. Larger cities are active in setting strategic climate change adaptation (CCA) goals and implementing measures at local scale. Urban green and blue infrastructure (UGBI) and their ecosystem services (ESS) are one of the most effective measures for coping with the consequences of climate change. Urban ecosystems are essential for the urban climate and urban residents due to their regulating (e.g. reduction of the urban heat island effect), supporting (e.g. increase in biodiversity), provisioning (e.g. water filtration) and socio-cultural (e.g. benefits for health, well‐being, recreation) functions. In built-up areas, public space is one of the most important spatial resource for implementing CCA measures and especially UGBI. While steering mechanisms on private properties often fail due to lack of authorisation, instruments or legal regulations, the planning and design of public space is the direct responsibility of cities as local planning authorities. However, in public space, CCA measures and UGBI have to compete with other demands and interests, such as recreation, social interaction and communication, mobility or energy production. As cities grow and densify, pressure on public space increases. Therefore, CCA and CCA measures – both for private and public spaces – need to be mainstreamed into policies at all levels and subsequently integrated into formal planning instruments and planning processes. Our paper investigates the horizontal and vertical integration of CCA, and especially CCA in public space (streets, squares and parks), into Austrian planning-related policies on national, federal state and municipal level and critically reflects on the mechanisms for implementation in planning practice. The research is based on i) a comprehensive analysis of policy documents of four Austrian federal states (Vienna, Styria, Salzburg and Upper Austria) and cities (Vienna, Graz, Salzburg, Wels), and ii) expert interviews with members of federal state and municipal planning administrations. The policy documents include CCA strategies that have an impact on planning and explicit spatial development strategies. The results show a emerging manifestation of CCA in policy documents, though not yet consistently at all levels and in all municipalities. Measures for CCA in public space are mainly anchored at municipal level, as cities already operate actively out of a given urgency. Despite the integration of CCA measures into the strategic planning level, our research shows that implementation still faces obstacles in planning practice. Our study highlights the importance of political agenda setting for the realization of CCA measures in public space and discusses success factors and implementation gaps.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: planning instruments, public space, policies, climate change, green infrastructure
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Depositing User: The CORP Team
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2022 16:47
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2022 14:01

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