Operationalizing the feedback between institutional decision-making, socio-political infrastructure, and environmental risk in urban vulnerability analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Urban adaptation to climate change is likely to emerge from the responses of residents, authorities, and infrastructure providers to the impact of flooding, water scarcity, and other climate-related hazards. These responses are, in part, modulated by political relationships under cultural norms that dominate the institutional and collective decisions of public and private actors. The legacy of these decisions, which are often associated with investment in hard and soft infrastructure, has lasting consequences that influence current and future vulnerabilities. Making those decisions visible, and tractable is, therefore, an urgent research and political challenge in vulnerability assessments. In this work, we present a modeling framework to explore scenarios of institutional decision-making and socio-political processes and the resultant effects on spatial patterns of vulnerability. The approach entails using multi-criteria decision analysis, agent-based models, and geographic information simulation. The approach allows for the exploration of uncertainties, spatial patterns, thresholds, and the sensitivities of vulnerability outcomes to different policy scenarios. Here, we present the operationalization of the framework through an intentionally simplified model example of the governance of water in Mexico City. We discuss results from this example as part of a larger effort to empirically implement the framework to explore sociohydrological risk patterns and trade-offs of vulnerability in real urban landscapes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-417
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019



  • Adaptation
  • Agent-based model
  • Climate change
  • Flooding
  • Governance
  • Multi-criteria
  • Multi-scale
  • Protests
  • Water scarcity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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