Urban climate adaptation in the USA

Equity, justice and diverse communities: lessons for Aotearoa from a Harkness Fellow in New Mexico, USA

SESSION: Thursday 21st March, 3:40pm - 4:10pm
Jym Clark

The importance of adapting our urban environments to climate change has become critically apparent in Aotearoa. In parts of the USA where the effects of climate change have been keenly felt, the process of adaptation has truly begun. But how do we move beyond a property-centred approach to one that is more equitable and inclusive of all communities, including non-property owners?

Jym Clark spent four months in the western USA in late 2023 speaking with local government officials, community leaders, planners, academics and visiting climate adaptation projects. This presentation will share key lessons that can be applied to Aotearoa, including planning initiatives, systems and governance models that are being employed in the USA to attempt to adapt to the effects of climate change in a just and equitable manner.

Jym was a Harkness Fellow and based at the Indigenous Design and Planning Institute in the University of New Mexico Architecture and Planning Department. He also visited California, Hawai'i and Alaska.

The need for communities to be intrinsically involved in planning for adaptation and support decision making is apparent. Equity is critical for initiatives such as the City of Los Angeles' goals centred on equitable climate solutions. Jym's research in the USA provides examples of engaging with vulnerable and underrepresented communities, including a people's climate change commission, ensuring indigenous views are centred, and focusing on equitable effects of a changing climate on diverse communities by identifying communities most at risk of extreme heat due to building design, surrounding environments, and the wider geographical landscape.

Presented By

Jym Clark

Fellow, Harkness Fellowship Trust

Jym Clark was a Harkness Fellow for 2023. He has developed national urban policy direction at the NZ Government. He has also worked in municipal authorities including the City of Toronto, Canada in the affordable housing policy unit. At Auckland Council he helped to prepare the first Unitary Plan including Māori and te tiriti outcomes. Jym was visiting the USA on a Harkness Fellowship researching planning in the US with a focus on climate adaptation in planning systems in the US.