Neoliberalism and Spatial Adaptation

  • Lachlan McClure
  • Douglas Baker
  • Mellini Sloan
Conference paper


Human spatial environments must adapt to climate change. Spatial planning is central to climate change adaptation and potentially well suited to the task, however neoliberal influences and trends threaten this capacity. This paper explores the significance of neoliberal influences on urban planning to climate change adaptation. The potential form of spatial adaptation within the context of a planning environment influenced by neoliberal principles is evaluated. This influence relates to spatial scale, temporal scale, responsibility for action, strategies and mechanisms, accrual of benefits, negotiation of priorities and approach to uncertainty.

This paper presents a conceptual framework of the influence of neoliberalism on spatial adaptation. It identifies the potential characteristics, challenges and opportunities of spatial adaptation under a neoliberal frame.

The neoliberal frame does not entirely preclude spatial adaptation but significantly influence its form. Neoliberal approaches involve individual action in response to private incentives and near term impacts while collective action, regulatory mechanisms and long term planning is approached cautiously. Challenges concern the degree to which collective action and a long term orientation are necessary, how individual adaptation relates to collective vulnerability and the prioritisation of adaptation by markets. Opportunities might involve the operability of individual and local adaptation, the existence of private incentives to adapt and the potential to align adaptation with entrepreneurial projects.


Collective Action Climate Change Adaptation Spatial Planning Spatial Adaptation Private Incentive 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Science and Engineering Faculty, School of Civil Engineering and Built EnvironmentQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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