As adaptation to climate change has become a concern for municipalities, resilience has largely replaced sustainability as the dominant environmental framing in planning discourse. This shift towards the “securitization of nature” coincides with the elevation of climate change on military agendas. In the military’s conception, climate change will not only contribute to security issues from resource wars to refugee crises, but will act as a “threat multiplier,” magnifying all existing forms of risk. The potential alliance between planners and the military seems an unlikely one, but in fact there is a long history of planners both shaping urban form to meet security needs and appropriating military technologies and systems. Still, given the current iteration of urban risk, planners must consider the relationships between security, urban form, and ecological risk anew.
This half-day symposium brought together leading scholars, policy experts and practitioners speaking to the opportunities and risks for urban planning and adaptation of an evolving climate security agenda. The security implications of climate change have become an increasingly dominant framing of the issue both inside and outside of the defense apparatus. As the history of the intersection between defense and urban planning has shown, this could have significant impacts on forms of adaptation in the built environment. In two panels, the symposium offered a critical exploration of these issues, pointing to directions for future research and practice.