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Bridging the gap between will and action on climate change adaptation in large cities in Brazil

A Correction to this article was published on 25 November 2019

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All over the world, there is a pressing need to better understand how climate change has been incorporated into governmental agendas, and evaluate the status of adaptation planning and interventions at the local level. In this paper, we seek to contribute towards bridging this gap by identifying local practices connected to climate adaptation in six large Brazilian cities, and presenting a framework, based on the existing literature, for assessing constraints to adaptation across the municipal level. Although local governments are not the only actors who can take the lead through their actions, the employed framework considers that effective adaptation planning in urban areas is highly dependent on municipal efforts. Our findings indicate that six aspects have the highest levels of impact on adaptation in the Brazilian cities studied: administrative practices, political will, level of commitment, mismatch between the scale of urban issues and the extent of local government authority, pressures from private sectors, and inspection. Although these barriers are not specific only to climate issues and can be identified in other environmental arenas, when combined, they cause and worsen constraints to advancing urban adaptation at the local level. Specifically concerning the local dynamics of urban planning, the combination of pressures from private sectors and insufficient inspection negatively affects the ability of these cities to consolidate adaptation interventions. Our results are helpful in the context of large cities, particularly in Global South, where, as in Brazil, competitive urbanism and specific interest groups confront municipal efforts, and make achieving adaptation more difficult.

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  • 25 November 2019

    The article which was recently published contained error in figure captions. The correct caption is given in this article.


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We are grateful to the all practitioners of the six studied cities that participated in this project.


This study is part of the CiAdapta project funded by Brazil’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development – CNPq (Proc. 446032/2015-8).

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Correspondence to Gabriela Marques Di Giulio.

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Communicated by Robbert Biesbroek

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Di Giulio, G.M., Torres, R.R., Lapola, D.M. et al. Bridging the gap between will and action on climate change adaptation in large cities in Brazil. Reg Environ Change 19, 2491–2502 (2019).

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