This study is part of the UNRISD project “Transformative Adaptation to Climate Change in Southeast Asian Coastal Cities” which explores adaptation decisionmaking processes and barriers to transformative solutions in order to inform more progressive policy making in the context of Southeast Asian coastal cities.
This paper explicitly posits social and environmental justice as an integral part of transformation and transformative adaptation, and synthesizes the findings from case study research that was undertaken on adaptation in the context of informal settlements and urban development in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam and Jakarta, Indonesia. Both cities are emblematic for rapidly urbanizing coastal cities that are highly exposed to the increasing impacts of climate change. In both cities, climate change adaptation is increasingly mainstreamed into business-as-usual sectoral and socio-economic development planning and used to justify the relocation of residents of informal settlements. Through the comparative analysis of the two cases, the paper seeks to dissect and imagine how cities may address root causes of vulnerability to flood risks experienced by inhabitants of informal settlements. Through this analysis, the authors hope to initiate a debate on policy pathways to more transformative adaptation that achieves social justice.