Social capital: improving community capacity to respond to urban heat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Urban heat is a growing problem, especially for vulnerable populations who are disproportionately exposed to higher temperatures. Adaptive capacity and, especially, social capital increases recovery from disasters and enhances adaptation. Social capital is declining nationwide and the Sunbelt States, with highest national temperatures, have the lowest levels of social capital. Social capital is situational and reflects a position within the formal and informal aspects of any issue, and frameworks developed for some purposes may not be relevant for others. Few have fully explored social capital's relation to heat vulnerability. There is a need to understand social capital in the context of urban heat to determine if it is present, used, enhanced or is a latent capacity. This research explores indicators and related questions for effective social capital for urban heat. This research was conducted in one of the hottest United States cities, metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona and, while the geographic and cultural context may be different, the findings have applicability to other warming urban centres. Using social capital as a lens to explore heat vulnerability and better metrics for urban heat social capital can inform policies that deepen networks and increase trust, minimise poor public health outcomes, and facilitate more effective community engagement. Effective social capital for extreme heat can provide a roadmap for decision-makers in working towards climate adaptation at the community scale by increasing their understanding of when and how to assist communities in building their capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLocal Environment
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • adaptation
  • adaptive capacity
  • community engagement
  • Extreme heat
  • resilience
  • social capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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