CfP POLLEN 20: Loss, damage and right to adaptation in the city: Explorations in urban climate justice

Session organizers

Ethemcan Turhan (Environmental Humanities Laboratory, Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden) & Özlem Çelik (Department of Development Studies, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science, University of Helsinki, Finland)

Please send abstracts of maximum 250 words with your affiliation to Ethemcan Turhan ( and Özlem Çelik ( the latest by 26 October 2019

Session abstract

Recent body of work on climate change adaptation increasingly refers to the limits of adaptation, which denotes a cut-off line where tangible and intangible loss and damage becomes inevitable. The notion of limits of adaptation, according to Michael Watts (2015: 21), was the “very ground on which political ecology emerged during the 1970s and 1980s”. Translating the global debates on loss and damage as if people matter (Tschakert et al, 2017) therefore requires attention not only to national but also to local scales and is positioned at the heart of critical political ecology inquiry today (Roberts and Pelling, 2016). As per adaptation interventions, Watts (2015: 20) reminds us that “what is on offer now is something unimaginable until relatively recently: namely abrupt, radical life-threatening shifts framed in the language of uncertainty, unpredictability, and contingency.” Such uncertainty, unpredictability and contingency are arguably the baseline of living dangerously in the age of planetary urbanization (Evans and Reid, 2014). Consequently, exploring adaptation and resistance as the building blocks of urban climate justice is tempting insofar as framing equity and fairness in adaptation is a contested process embedded in urban struggles.

This paper session invites contributions on the broadly defined field of urban climate justice that dare to look beyond the myth of self-regulating markets of private insurance schemes and liberal technocratic functionalism of engineering interventions. It seeks to amplify grassroots voices from the global South and global North alike on issues including but not limited to radical adaptation (Dawson, 2017), bottom-up citizen initiatives (Shi et al, 2016), heterotopias (Edwards and Bulkeley, 2018), climate gentrification (Anguelovski et al, 2016), humans and other species (Gillard et al, 2016), co-production of socionatures (Nightingale et al, 2019), hybrid, creative and cosmopolitical experiments as well as transformational radical practices (Steele et al, 2015). Notably, contributions from underrepresented geographies and societal groups with attention to power, possibility and prefiguration are most welcome. 


Anguelovski, I., et al. (2016). Equity impacts of urban land use planning for climate adaptation: Critical perspectives from the global north and south. Journal of Planning Education and Research36(3), 333-348.

Dawson, A. (2017). Extreme cities: The peril and promise of urban life in the age of climate change. Verso Books.

Edwards, G. A., & Bulkeley, H. (2018). Heterotopia and the urban politics of climate change experimentation. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space36(2), 350-369.

Evans, B., & Reid, J. (2014). Resilient life: The art of living dangerously. John Wiley & Sons.

Gillard, R., et al. (2016). Transformational responses to climate change: beyond a systems perspective of social change in mitigation and adaptation. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change7(2), 251-265.

Nightingale, A. J., et al. (2019). Beyond Technical Fixes: climate solutions and the great derangement. Climate and Development, 1-10.

Shi, L., et al. (2016). Roadmap towards justice in urban climate adaptation research. Nature Climate Change6(2), 131.

Steele, W., et al. (2015). Urban climate justice: creating sustainable pathways for humans and other species. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability14, 121-126.

Tschakert, P., et al. (2017). Climate change and loss, as if people mattered: values, places, and experiences. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change8(5), e476.

Watts, M. J. (2015). The origins of political ecology and the rebirth of adaptation as a form of thought. pg. 19-50, in Perreault, T., Bridge, G., & McCarthy, J. (Eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Political Ecology. Routledge.

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