Toward Citizen-Led Planning for Climate Change Adaptation in Urban Ghana: Hints from Japanese ‘Machizukuri’ Activities

  • Seth Asare Okyere
  • Stephen Kofi Diko
  • Matthew Abunyewah
  • Michihiro Kita


This chapter draws lessons from Japanese machizukuri activities, which represent one of the most dynamic opportunities for participatory climate change adaptation in Africa. This chapter adopts a literature-based exploratory and dialectical approach to examine community’s role in climate change adaptation. It highlights the challenges and recent consensus on citizens’ role in climate change adaptation. Within this context, the chapter discusses Japanese machizukuri activities as providing ‘the how’ of promoting and strengthening community participation in climate change adaptation in urban Ghana. Findings indicate an existing potential for participatory planning in climate change adaptation in urban Ghana. However, to confront climate change impacts, there is the need for greater collaborative planning through networking, exploiting social capital, and integrating intangible sociocultural factors into urban climate adaptation planning.




Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change


The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change


Non Profit Organisation


District Assembly


  1. Acquaah-Harrison, R. (2004). Housing and Urban Development in Ghana: With Special Reference to Low-Income Housing. Nairobi: UN Habitat.Google Scholar
  2. Adger, W. N. J. (2003). Social Capital, Collective Action, and Adaptation to Climate Change. Economic Geography, 79(4), 387–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adger, W. N., Barnett, J., Brown, K., Marshall, N., & O’Brien, K. (2013). Cultural Dimensions of Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation. Nature Climate Change, 3, 112–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Adu-Boateng, A. (2015). Barriers to Climate Change Policy Responses for Urban Areas: A Study of Tamale Metropolitan Assembly Ghana. Current Opinionin Environmental Sustainability, 13, 49–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Altenburg, C. (2012). Institutional and Social Capacities in Lead Cities in Europe and the United States: Success Factors for Urban Sustainability? In William G. Holt (Ed.), Urban Areas and Global Climate Change (Vol. 12, pp. 3–28), Research in Urban Sociology. Emerald Group Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
  6. Amoah, L. G. A. (2014). China, Architecture and Ghana’s Spaces: Concrete Signs of a Soft Chinese Imperium. Journal of Asian and African Studies, 49, 1–18.Google Scholar
  7. Anguelovski, I., & Carmin, J. (2011). Something Borrowed, Everything New: Innovation and Institutionalization in Urban Climate Governance. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 3(3), 169–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Anguelovski, I., Chu, E., & Carmin, J. (2014). Variations in Approaches to Urban Climate Adaptation: Experiences and Experimentation from the Global South. Global Environmental Change, 27, 156–167. Scholar
  9. Aoki, N. (2018). Sequencing and Combining Participation in Urban Planning: The Case of Tsunami-Ravaged Onagawa Town, Japan. Cities, 72, 226–236.Google Scholar
  10. Baker, J. L. (2012). Climate Change, Disaster Risk, and the Urban Poor: Cities Building Resilience for a Changing World. Washington, DC: World Bank. Available at
  11. Barbour, E., & Deakin, E. A. (2012). Smart Growth Planning for Climate Protection. Journal of the American Planning Association, 78(1), 70–86.
  12. Bebelleh, F., & Nobabumah, A. (2013). Political Decentralization and Local Participation in Ghana: Perspectives from the Upper West Region. Public Policy and Administration Research, 3(11), 12–25.Google Scholar
  13. Broto, V. C. (2017). Urban Governance and the Politics of Climate Change. World Development, 93, 1. Scholar
  14. Broto, V. C., Macucule, D. A., Boyd, E., Ensor, J., & Allen, C. (2015). Building Collaborative Partnerships for Climate Change Action in Maputo, Mozambique. Environment and Planning A, 47(3), 571–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Brücher, H., & Baumberger, P. (2003). Using Mobile Technology to Support eDemocracy. Proceedings of the 36th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 5, p. 144b. Hawaii: Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.Google Scholar
  16. Burch, S. (2010). Transforming Barriers into Enablers of Action on Climate Change: Insights from Three Municipal Case Studies in British Columbia, Canada. Global Environmental Change, 20, 287–297.Google Scholar
  17. Carmin, J., Anguelovski, I., & Roberts, D. (2012). Urban Climate Adaptation in the Global South: Planning in an Emerging Policy Domain. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 32(1), 18–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chambers, R. (1995). The Origins and Practice of Participatory Rural Appraisal. World Development, 22(7), 953–969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cleaver, F. (1999). Paradoxes of Participation: Questioning Participatory Approaches to Development. Journal of International Development, 11(4), 597–612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Cloutier, G., Joerin, F., Dubois C., Labarthe, M., Legay, C., & Viens, D. (2015). Planning Adaptation Based on Local Actors’ Knowledge and Participation: A Climate Governance Experiment. Climate Policy, 15(4), 458–474.Google Scholar
  21. Coffee, J. E., Parzen, J., Wagstaff, M., & Lewis, R. S. (2010). Preparing for a Changing Climate: The Chicago Climate Action Plan’s Adaptation Strategy. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 36, 115–117. Scholar
  22. Cunningham, R., Cvitanovic, C., Measham, T., Jacobs, B., Dowd, A. M., & Harman, B. (2016). Engaging Communities in Climate Adaptation: The Potential of Social Networks. Climate Policy, 16(7), 894–908.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. De Sherbinin, A., Schiller, A., & Pulsipher, A. (2007). The Vulnerability of Global Cities to Climate Hazards. Environment & Urbanization, 19(1), 39–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Deslatte, A., & Swann, W. (2016). Is the Price Right? Gauging the Marketplace for Local Sustainable Policy Tools. Journal of Urban Affairs, 38(4), 581–596.
  25. Diko, S. K. (2018). Toward Integration: Managing the Divergence Between National Climate Change Interventions and Urban Planning in Ghana. In A. Galderisi & A. Colucci (Eds.), Smart, Resilient and Transition Cities: Emerging Approaches and Tools for a Climate-Sensitive Urban Development (pp. 141–152). Amsterdam: Elsevier Inc.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ensor, J. E., Park, S. E., Hoddoy, E. T., & Ratner, B. D. (2015). Rights-based Approach to Adaptive Capacity. Global Environmental Change, 31, 38–49.Google Scholar
  27. Evans, N. (2002). Discourses of Urban Community and Community Planning: A Comparison Between Britain and Japan. Sheffield, UK: University of Sheffield.Google Scholar
  28. Fatti, C. E., & Patel, Z. (2013). Perceptions and Responses to Urban Flood Risk: Implications for Climate Governance in the South. Applied Geography, 36, 13–22.
  29. Few, R., Brown, K., & Tompkins, E. L. (2007). Public Participation and Climate Change Adaptation: Avoiding the Illusion of Inclusion. Climate Policy, 7(1), 46–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fujii, S., Okata, J., & Sorensen, A. (2007). Inner City Development in Tokyo: Conflicts Over Urban Places, Planning Governance and Neighborhoods in Participation. In A. Sorensen, & C. Funck (Eds.), Living Cities in Japan: Citizen Movements, Machizukuri and Local Environments (pp. 247–266). New York: Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies.Google Scholar
  31. Hague, C. (2012). Localism in Japan: Collaborative Planning or Rule by Courts? Retrieved from 19 December 2014.
  32. Hashimoto, S. (2007). Neighbourhood Associations and Machizukuri Processes: Strengths and Weakneses. In A. Sorensen, & C. Funck (Eds.), Living Cities in Japan: Citizen Movements, Machizuuri and Local Environments. New York: Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies.Google Scholar
  33. Healey, P. (2003). Collaborative Planning in Perspective. Planning Theory, 2(2), 101–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hiraoka, S., & Wada, T. (2005). Political System and Social Back- Ground for Promotion of Global Warming Prevention by Citizen Participation in Local Government: A Case Study of Yasu Town, Shiga Prefecture (in Japanese). Ritsumeikan Review of Industrial Society (Sangyo ̄ ShakaiRonshu ̄), 41, 39–55.Google Scholar
  35. Inkoom, D. K. B. (2011). Ghana’s Decentralization: Two Decades and Still Crawling?Development, 54(3), 393–399.Google Scholar
  36. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (2014). Climate Change 2014—Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability: Regional Aspects. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Ito, A. (2007). Earthquake Reconstruction Machizukuri and Citizen Participation. In A. Sorensen, & C. Funck (Eds.), Living Cities in Japan: Citizen Movements, Machizuuri and Local Environments (pp. 157–171). New York: Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies.Google Scholar
  38. Jacobs, J. (1965). The Death and Life of Great American Cities: The Failure of Town Planning. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  39. Jorge Ochoaa, J., Tan, Y., Qianc, K. Q., Shen, L., & LópeZ Moreno, E. (2018). Learning from Best Practices in Sustainable Urbanization. Habitat International, 78, 83–95.Google Scholar
  40. Koizumi, H., & Tsuji, M. (2018). Community Design in the Recovery Following the March 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami. In V. Santiago-Fandiño, S. Sato, N. Maki, & K. Iuchi (Eds.), The 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: Reconstruction and Restoration. Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research (Vol. 47). Cham: Springer.Google Scholar
  41. Kusakabe, E. (2013). Advancing Sustainable Development at the Local Level: The Case of Machizukuri in Japanese Cities. Progress in Planning, 80, 1–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lee, T., & Painter, M. (2015). Comprehensive Local Climate Policy: The Role of Urban Governance. Urban Climate, 14, 566–577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ley, D. (1989). Modernism, Post-modernism, and the Struggle for Place. In John A. Agnew & James S. Duncan (Eds.), The Power of Place. Boston: Unwin Hyman.Google Scholar
  44. Matsuoka, M. (2007). Mura-zukuri e No Tenkai [Development Towards Village Community-Making. In The Japanese Association for Rural Studies]. In H. Torigoe (Ed.), Mura no shakai wo kenkyu ̄ suru [Studying Village Communities] (pp. 199–204). Tokyo: Rural Culture Association Japan.Google Scholar
  45. Mukheibir, P., & Ziervogel, G. (2007). Developing a Municipal Adaptation Plan (MAP) for Climate Change: The City of Cape Town. Environment & Urbanization, 19(1), 143–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Murayama, A. (2018). Reconsidering Urban Planning Through Community-Based Initiatives. In B. Müller & H. Shimizu (Eds.), Towards the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda. Cham: Springer.Google Scholar
  47. Myers, G. (2009). African Cities: Alternative Visions of Theory and Practice. New York: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  48. Naustdalslid, J. (1992). Decentralisation Policies in Ghana. Oslo: NIBR.Google Scholar
  49. Nishimura, Y. (2010). Civic Engagement and Community Development Among Japan’s Barakumin. In H. Vinken, Y. Nishimura, B. L. J. White, & M. Deguchi (Eds.), Civic Engagement in Contemporary Japan (pp. 119–138). Cham: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Obeng-Odoom, F. (2013). Managing Land for the Common Good? Evidence from a Community Development Project at Agona, Ghana. Journal of Pro-poor Growth, 1(1), 29–46.Google Scholar
  51. Okada, N., Fang, L., & Marc Kilgour, D. (2013). Community-Based Decision Making in Japan. Group Decision and Negotiation, 22, 45–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Okano, D., Skeele, R., & Greene, R. (2015). Climate Adaptation Planning in the Northern Mariana Islands: Adapting Guidance for a Locally Appropriate Approach. Coastal Management, 43(4), 394–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Owusu, G. (2005). The Role of District Capitals in Regional Development: Linking Small Towns, Rural–Urban Linkages and Decentralisation in Ghana. International Development Planning Review, 21(1), 59–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Owusu, G. (2009). Internal Boundaries and District Administration: A Challenge to Decentralization and District Development in Ghana. Geografiska Annaler: Series B Human Geography, 91(1), 57–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rakodi, C. (2004). Representation and Responsiveness—Urban Politics and the Poor in Ten Cities in the South. Community Development Journal, 39(3), 252–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Rakodi, C. (2006). Social Agency and State Authority in Land Delivery Processes in African Cities: Compliance, Conflict and Cooperation. International Development Planning Review, 28(2), 262–285.Google Scholar
  57. Roberts, D. (2010). Prioritizing Climate Change Adaptation and Local Level Resilience in Durban, South Africa. Environment & Urbanization, 22(2), 397–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Roy, A. (2009). Why India Cannot Plan Its Cities: Informality, Insurgence and the Idiom of Urbanization. Planning Theory, 8(1), 76–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Rydin, Y., & Holman, N. (2004). Re-evaluating the Contribution of Social Capital in Achieving Sustainable Development. Local Environment, 9, 117–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Schipper, E. L. F., Cigaran, M. P., & Hedger, M. M. (2008). Adaptation to Climate Change: The New Challenge for Development in the Developing World. New York: Environment & Energy Group. United Nations Development Programme. Available at
  61. Selormey, E. E. (2013). Citizen Voice and Bureaucratic Responsiveness: FM Radio Phone-ins and the Delivery of Municipal and Local Government Services in Accra Ghana (PhD dissertation). Sussex University, UK.Google Scholar
  62. Sharma, D., & Tomar, S. (2010). Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation in Indian Cities. Environment & Urbanization, 22(2), 451–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Shemdoe, R., Kassenga, G., & Mbuligwe, S. (2015). Implementing Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Interventions at the Local Government Levels in Tanzania: Where Do We Start. Current Opinion Enviromental Sustainability, 13, 32–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Smit, B., & Wandel, J. (2006). Adaptation, Adaptive Capacity and Vulnerability. Global Environmental Change, 16(3), 282–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sorensen, A., & Funck, C. (Eds.). (2007). Living Cities in Japan: Citizen Movements, Machizuuri and Local Environments. New York: Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies.Google Scholar
  66. Sutcliffe, A. (1981). Towards the Planned City. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  67. Taylor, A. (2015). Institutional Inertia in a Changing Climate: Climate Adaptation Planning in Cape Town, South Africa. International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, 8(2), 194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Thönnies, F. (1887/1963). Community and Society. In J. Lin, & C. Mele (Eds.) (2007), The Urban Sociology Reader. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  69. Todes, A., Karam, A., Klug, N., & Malaza, N. (2010). Beyond Master Planning? New Approaches to Spatial Planning in Ekurhuleni, South Africa. Habitat International, 34, 414–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. UN. (1992). United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: UN.Google Scholar
  71. Watanabe, S. (2007). ToshiKeikaku vs Machizukuri: Emerging Paradigm of Civil Society in Japan, 1950–1980. In A. Sorensen, & C. Funck (Eds.), Living Cities in Japan: Citizen Movements, Machizuuri and Local Environments. New York: Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies.Google Scholar
  72. Watanabe S. (2012). Historical Analysis of the Kunitachi Machizukuri Movement: Its Nature and the Role of Professor Shiro Masuda. Paper Presented at 15th International Planning History Society Conference, Sao Paolo. Available at Retrieved from 8 February 2015.
  73. Watanabe, Shun-ichi, J. (2016). The Modern Planning History of East Asia: A Brief Guide from the Japanese Perspectives. In C. Hein (Ed.), International Planning History Society Proceedings, 17th IPHS Conference, History-Urbanism-Resilience, TU Delft 17–21 July 2016, V.01 p. 013, TU Delft Open, 2016.Google Scholar
  74. Watson, V. (2009a). The Planned City Sweeps the Poor Away Urbanisation and 21st Century Urbanization. Progress in Planning, 72, 151–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Watson, V. (2009b). Seeing from the South: Refocusing Urban Planning on the Globe’s Central Urban Issues. Urban Studies, 46(11), 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Wirth, L. (1964). Urbanism as a Way of Life. In J. Lin & C. Mele (Eds.) (2007), The Urban Sociology Reader. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  77. Woodend, L. (2013). A Study into the Practice of Machizukuri (Community Building) in Japan. RTPI and Japan Foundation.Google Scholar
  78. Yeboah, E., & F. Obeng-Odoom. (2010, November). ‘We Are Not the Only Ones to BLAME’: District Assemblies’ Perspectives on the State of Planning in Ghana. Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance Issue 7. Available at Accessed 9 September 2015.
  79. Zadek, S. (2011). Beyond Climate Finance: From Accountability to Productivity in Addressing the Climate Challenge. Climate Policy, 11(3), 1058–1068.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Zakari Abdul, B. (2012). Decentralization and Community Participation in Ghana: The Development of District Development Plans in East Mamprusi District. Thesis Research Paper Presented at Graduate School of Development Studies, International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague. Available at Retrieved from 9 February 2015.
  81. Ziervogel, G., Archer van Garderen, E., & Price, P. (2016). Strengthening the Knowledge—Policy Interface Through Co-production of a Climate Adaptation Plan: Leveraging Opportunities in Bergrivier Municipality South Africa. Environment and Urbanisation, 28, 455–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Seth Asare Okyere
    • 1
  • Stephen Kofi Diko
    • 2
  • Matthew Abunyewah
    • 3
  • Michihiro Kita
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of EngineeringOsaka UniversityOsakaJapan
  2. 2.University of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  3. 3.School of Engineering and Built EnvironmentUniversity of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia

Personalised recommendations