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REPORT: Social strategy games in communicating trade-offs between mitigation and adaptation in cities

Cities are becoming the locus of climate change policy and planning, both for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change. These actions involve a number of trade-offs, including densification of the urban structure, concerns over social equity and the proper use of green infrastructure for adaptation. Many of these impacts are difficult to quantify and their interdependencies are often challenging to comprehend and communicate. There are a number of outstanding gaps in knowledge both in research and in practice in relation to how decisions are made between adaptation and mitigation strategies and what kinds of negative and positive synergies can be identified between them.

This report, Social strategy games in communicating trade-offs between mitigation and adaptation in cities, explores how social games can help people to communicate the trade-offs between mitigation and adaptation measures in an urban environment and examines the possibilities of using social gaming as a research method. Data was collected from Denmark, Finland and the US through organized gaming sessions. The conclusion of the study is that social games, although methodologically challenging, are a promising method to communicate complex planning problems.

The paper has been produced as part of the CDKN-funded project, Forecast-based humanitarian decisions: designing tools and processes to link knowledge with action, which seeks to embed science into humanitarian work, designing participatory games and other innovative tools for smart forecast-based decisions. The goal is to manage climate risks and promote effective responses for development and adaptation globally across various sectors, time scales, and spatial scales of decision.

Further reading:

Project homepage: Forecast-based humanitarian decisions: designing tools and processes to link knowledge with action
Report: Can games help people manage the climate risks they face? The participatory design of educational games
Practical game design: Iterative Game-Design in Field: Humans Vs. Mosquitoes, testing and adaptation in Kenya