Session 19

D5 Diverse Geographies, (Dis)similar Empirics: Exploring Climate Risks and Resilience in Urban Deltas Using ‘Comparative Urbanism’ Approach

Blurring boundaries between the global North and South and strengthening South-South co-learnings and collaborations, ‘comparative urbanism’ has emerged as an overarching and expansive methodological approach to acknowledge pluriversal urban epistemologies within larger global urban political processes and trajectories. It is methodologically powerful in terms of crafting departure from the sole focus on Euro-American cities as epicenters of global urban discourses and discussions to less explored cities of the global South across shared experiences, encounters and exchanges. Comparative urbanism is not only accommodative in terms of covering wider urban spatialities, but also facilitating epistemological exchanges across (dis)similar urban experiences and empirical realities – even making way for ‘unexpected comparisons’. An estimated 40% of the people worldwide inhabit 100 kilometres of the coast that includes megacities worldwide. These delta or littoral cities are encountering increasing impacts of climate change (such as sea level rise, flooding, etc.) – the vulnerabilities and resilience of urban coastal communities shaping and getting shaped by structural inequities and injustices. Again, coastal cities and urban deltas are hotspots of climate risks in terms of their efflorescence as part of capitalist technocratic urbanizing processes at the costs of their larger ecological infrastructures such as wetlands, pastures, and marshes. As comparative scholarship on flood risks and mitigation remains rare, in this session, our aim is to take a cue from the fast-growing field of comparative urbanism to bring to the fore shared as well as distinctive processes shaping the urban within dynamics of delta building. Again, despite exposure to environmental risks, delta cities are imbued with flood-efficacy and socio-ecological resilience. The history of human settlement in urban deltas and the omnipresence of muddy waters are also a favouring factor for the (re)activation of memories of both being confronted with climate risks and design and application of resilient strategies and tactics to cope against them. We expect that both the empirical case studies and (un)expected comparative discussions of deltaic and coastal cities in this session will make us aware of connections at international scales, beyond the north-south and also within the south-south urban contours. The cross-cultural and translocal stories of urban deltascapes will shed light on climate/flood risks and human adjustments in these distinct yet comparable urban spatial and political settings – further reinvigorating comparative urbanism scholarship that is sensitive to ‘local’ differences and complexities yet conveys the ‘global’ by mapping and accommodating together connected historical and political economic conjectures of change along varied urban delta-and-coastal geographies. The papers presented in this session are expected to advance SDG 11 (safe and sustainable cities), SDG 9 (building resilient infrastructures) and their intersections – by also critically interrogating categories such as ‘risks’ and ‘resilience’ within the (dis)similar contexts and experiences of delta cities all over the world.