Climate Change Adaptation in Urban Ghana: The Spatial Planning Dimension

  • Patrick Brandful Cobbinah
  • Nelson Nyabanyi N-yanbini


Global responses to climate change are skewed towards reducing greenhouse gases, despite considerable research emphasizing adaptation. This chapter situates spatial planning in the Ghanaian climate change adaptation discourse by reviewing the centrality of climate adaptation in medium term development plans. Findings indicate that although climate change is manifesting in terms of flood events, unpredictable rainfall patterns and warming temperatures, the broader implications for biodiversity and water resources are lacking in spatial plans. The reasons include inadequate political will and limited engagement of planners in climate discourse. Recommendations to improve the situation are proffered.


  1. Alhassan, S., & Hadwen, W. (2017). Challenges and Opportunities for Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation into (WaSH) Development Planning in Ghana. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(7), 749. Published Online 10 July 2017.
  2. Alig, R. J., & Tech., C. (2011). Effects of Climate Change on Natural Resources and Communities: A Compendium of Briefing Papers (General Technical Report PNWGTR-837), 169. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station.Google Scholar
  3. Allman, L., Fleming, P., & Wallace, A. (2004). The Progress of English and Welsh Local Authorities in Addressing Climate Change. Local Environment, 9(3), 271–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Amoateng, P., Finlayson, C. M., Howard, J., & Wilson, B. (2018). Dwindling Rivers and Floodplains in Kumasi, Ghana: A Socio-Spatial Analysis of the Extent and Trend. Applied Geography, 90, 82–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Andrewartha, H. G., & Birch, L. C. (1954). The Distribution and Abundance of Animals. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  6. Asumadu-Sarkodie, S., Owusu, P. A., & Rufangura, P. (2015, October). Impact Analysis of Flood in Accra, Ghana. Advances in Applied Science Research, 6(9), 53–78.Google Scholar
  7. Blanco, H., & Alberti, M. (2009). Building Capacity to Adapt to Climate Change Through Planning. In H. Blanco & M. Alberti (Eds.), Hot, Congested, Crowded and Diverse: Emerging Research Agendas in Planning, Progress in Planning, 71, 153–205.Google Scholar
  8. Bojo, J. (2000, April). Natural Resources Management. A Draft Paper Presented for Discussion. World Bank. Retrieved 24 December 2013 from
  9. Boon, E., & Ahenkan, A. (2011). Assessing Climate Change Impacts on Ecosystem Services and Livelihoods in Ghana: Case Study of Communities Around Sui Forest Reserve. Journal of Ecosystem & Ecography S3:001.
  10. Bulkeley, H., & Betsill, M. (2003). Cities and Climate Change: Urban Sustainability and Global Environmental Governance. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Bulkeley, H., & Betsill, M. (2005). Rethinking Sustainable Cities: Multi-level Governance and the “Urban” Politics of Climate Change. Environmental Politics, 14(1), 42–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Carter, J., & Sherriff, G. (2011). Spatial Planning for Climate Change Adaptation: Identifying Crosscutting Barriers and Solutions. Manchester: University of Manchester. Google Scholar
  13. CC DARE. (2011). National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.Google Scholar
  14. Cobbinah, P. B., & Anane, G. (2015). Climate Change Adaptation in Rural Ghana: Indigenous Perceptions and Strategies. Climate and Development, 8.
  15. Cobbinah, P. B., & Darkwah, R. M. (2017). Urban Planning and Politics in Ghana. GeoJournal, 82(6), 1229–1245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cobbinah, P. B., Black, R., & Thwaites, R. (2015). Biodiversity Conservation and Livelihoods in Rural Ghana: Impacts and Coping Strategies. Environmental Development Journal Homepage. Available at
  17. Commission of European Communities (CEC). (2005). Special Eurobarometer 217: The Attitudes of European Citizens Towards Environment.
  18. Davidse, B. J., Othengrafen, M., & Deppisch, S. (2015). Spatial Planning Practices of Adapting to Climate Change. Refereed Article No. 57, April 2015. European Journal of Spatial Development. Online Publication Date April 2015.
  19. Davies, A. (2005). Local Action for Climate Change: Trans-national Networks and the Irish Experience. Local Environment, 10(1), 21–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Davoudi, S., Crawford, J., & Mehmood, A. (Eds.). (2010). Planning for Climate Change: Strategies for Mitigation and Adaptation for Spatial Planners. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  21. Department for Transport, L.G., & R. [DTLR]. (2001). Planning Policy Guidance 25: Development and Flood-Risk. London: Stationery Office.Google Scholar
  22. Dumenu, W. K., & Obeng, E. A. (2016). Environmental Science & Policy Climate Change and Rural Communities in Ghana: Social Vulnerability, Impacts, Adaptations and Policy Implications. Environmental Science and Policy, 55, 208–217. Available at
  23. Dziany, K. F. (2011). The Effects of Bureaucracy on Policy Implementation in the Public Sector “A Case Study of Ghana Audit Service, Ashanti Region”. A Thesis Submitted to the Institute of Distance Learning Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Partial Fulfilment of the Award of the Degree of Commonwealth Executive Masters in Business Administration.Google Scholar
  24. EM-DAT: The OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database.—Université catholique de Louvain.
  25. ERM. (2000). Potential UK Adaptation Strategies for Climate Change. London: DETR.Google Scholar
  26. European Opinion Research Group, European Commission. Environment Directorate-General, European Commission. Directorate-General Press, & Communication. (2002). The Attitudes of Europeans Towards the Environment (Vol. 58). European Opinon Research Group.Google Scholar
  27. Füssel, H. M. (2007). Adaptation Planning for Climate Change: Concepts, Assessment Approaches, and Key Lessons. Sustainability Science, 2(2), 265–275. Scholar
  28. Ghana, E. P. A. (2000). Ghana’s Initial National Communication Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Accra: Ghana.Google Scholar
  29. Government of Ghana. (2013). Ghana National Climate Change Policy. Accra, Ghana: Ministry of Environment Science, Technology and Innovation.Google Scholar
  30. Grinnell, J. (1917). Field Tests of Theories Concerning Distributional Control. American Naturalist, 51, 115–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hissel, F., Morel, G., Pescaroli, G., Graaff, H., Felts, D., & Pietrantoni, L. (2014). Early Warning and Mass Evacuation in Coastal Cities, Coastal Engineering.
  32. Inter-Governmental Panel on Clinate Change [IPCC]. (2013). Summary for Policy Makers. In T. F. Stocker, D. Qin, G. K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S. K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. et al. (Eds.), Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assesment.Google Scholar
  33. Kankam-Yeboah, B. K. (2010). Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources in Ghana. Accra, Ghana: Ghana National Commission for UNESCO/Ministry of Education.Google Scholar
  34. Korah, P. I., Cobbinah, P. B., Nunbogu, A. M., & Gyogluu, S. (2017). Spatial Plans and Urban Development Trajectory in Kumasi, Ghana. GeoJournal, 82(6), 1113–1134.Google Scholar
  35. Kuuzegh, R. (2007). Ghana’s Experience at Integrating Climate Change Adaptation into National Planning. Presentation at the UN.Google Scholar
  36. MacArthur, R. M. (1972). Geographical Ecology. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  37. Mensah, J. (2005). Problems of District Medium-Term Development Plan Implementation in Ghana: The Way Forward. International Development Planning Review—INT DEV PLAN REV, 27, 245–270. Scholar
  38. Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development. (2012, May). National Urban Policy Framework. Accra, Ghana: Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development.Google Scholar
  39. Müller-Kuckelberg, K. (2012, July). Climate Change and Its Impact on the Livelihood of Farmers and Agricultural Workers in Ghana. Report, Accra, Ghana.Google Scholar
  40. Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD]. (2007, August). Climate Change Policies. Observer: Policy Brief, 2–7. Available at
  41. Parry, M., Parry, M. L., Canziani, O., Palutikof, J., Van der Linden, P., & Hanson, C. (Eds.). (2007). Climate Change 2007-impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability: Working Group II Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC (Vol. 4). Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Poku-Boansi, M., & Cobbinah, P. B. (2018). Are We Planning for Resilient Cities in Ghana? An Analysis of Policy and Planners’ Perspectives. Cities, 72(2018), 252–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rain, D., Engstrom, R., & Ludlow, C. (2011). Accra Ghana: A City Vulnerable to Flooding and Drought-Induced Migration. Case Study Prepared for Cities and Climate Change: Global Report on Human Settlements 2011. Available from
  44. Ranganathan, C., Palanisami, K., Kakumanu, K., & Baulraj, A. (2010). Mainstreaming the Adaptations and Reducing the Vulnerability of the Poor due to Climate Change (ADBI Working Paper No. 333). Tokyo: Asian Development Bank Institute. Available at
  45. Robinson, P. (2006). Canadian Municipal Response to Climate Change: Measurable Progress and Persistent Challenges for Planners. Planning Theory and Practice, 7(2), 218–223.Google Scholar
  46. Schmidt-Thome, P. (2006). Integration of Natural Hazards, Risks and Climate Change into Spatial Planning. Academic Dissertation. Selangor State Government. (2007). Sungai Selangor Basin Management Plan 2007–2012. Malaysia.Google Scholar
  47. Scottish Executive. (2004). National Planning Framework for Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.Google Scholar
  48. Sova, C. A., Chaudhury, A. S., Nelson, W. A., Nutsukpo, D. K., Zougmoré, R. (2014). Climate Change Adaptation Policy in Ghana: Priorities for the Agriculture Sector (Working Paper No. 68). Copenhagen, Denmark: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Available at
  49. Sovacool, B. K., & Brown, M. A. (2010). Twelve Metropolitan Carbon Footprint: A Preliminary Comparative Global Assessement. Energy Policy, 38, 4856–4869.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tamale Metropolitan Assembly. (2014). Medium Term Development Plan (2014–2017). Tamale, Ghana: Tamale Metropolitan Assembly.Google Scholar
  51. UNDP & UNEP. (2009). Mainstreaming Poverty-Environment Linkages into Development Planning: A Handbook for Practitioners. UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  52. UNDP & UNEP. (2011). Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation into Development Planning: A Guide for Practitioners. Poverty-Environment Initiative.Google Scholar
  53. UNESCO. (2017). Declaration of Ethical Principles in Relation to Climate Change. Paris, France: UNESCO. SHS/BIO/PI/2017/2.Google Scholar
  54. Wilson, E. (2006). Adapting to Climate Change at the Local Level: The Spatial Planning Response. Local Environment, 11(6), 609–625. Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Brandful Cobbinah
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nelson Nyabanyi N-yanbini
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PlanningKwame Nkrumah University of Science and TechnologyKumasiGhana
  2. 2.Institute for Land, Water and SocietyCharles Sturt UniversityAlburyAustralia

Personalised recommendations