Many cities have set a policy objective to be “resilient” to climate change but designing policies to achieve resilience is difficult, in part because of the deep uncertainty surrounding climate change and its effects on cities. How does policy design take place under conditions of uncertainty? In this paper, we consider how different governance structures influence policy design processes and result in different policy decisions in cities sharing a common policy objective.
We examine water policy design in three cities: Singapore, London and Rotterdam. All three cities have highly developed institutions and processes for evidence-based policy-making and share the objective of being resilient to climate change. However, their water governance structures are very different in terms of the degree of vertical and horizontal fragmentation and in the nature and role of non-government actors in policy design.
The analysis suggests that higher degrees of centralisation of policy design within government may deliver more robust infrastructure but that this may come at a cost for societal resilience.