You never adapt alone – the role of Multi-Sectoral Partnerships in addressing urban climate risks


While multi-sectoral partnerships (MSPs) now form an increasingly popular and important part of the global climate and disaster risk governance landscape, particularly in urban areas, literature offers little critical investigation of this phenomenon. Through the lens of three partnership case studies from London, Rotterdam and Durban this paper investigates the scope for MSPs to enhance climate adaptation in an urban context. We investigate the drivers behind the formation of the MSPs and consider the concept of ‘impact’ that a MSP may have through surveys and interviews. We then consider the ability of a MSP to respond to changing needs and expectations – such as new scientific evidence, shifting policy directions and member priorities – which are key features of the adaptation and urban resilience fields. Our investigation supports our proposed distinction between ‘first generation’ and ‘second generation’ MSPs, reflecting on the dynamic nature of urban adaptation with a shifting focus from initial awareness raising and agenda setting towards the implementation of adaptation action. We notice that for long-established MSPs, such as the Durban and London examples, this shift can present several challenges, while it can also give rise to new, more targeted MSPs, as the example of Rotterdam shows.