Playing games around climate change: New ways of working to develop climate change resilience

Malachy Buck, John Sturzaker, Ian Mell

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This paper uses game theory to examine the efforts of public sector actors in the UK to integrate climate change interventions within development processes. Drawing on desk-based analysis and interviews, we identify instances where private-sector developers act strategically to exploit public-sector imperatives to deliver economic growth and housing. We find these imperatives constrained the agency of planners to effectively reconcile climate mitigation/adaptation objectives within wider priorities of economic growth. Yet, we identify instances whereby strategic planning frameworks, informal networks and bespoke development frameworks were effective means to build trust between actors and foster co-operation, better enabling development which meets climate change mitigation/adaptation objectives. In doing so, we illustrate the practical and theoretical value of game theory, whilst highlighting how careful use of strategic planning can support achieving climate change mitigation/adaptation objectives at a local scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2538-2555
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2021


  • Climate change adaptation
  • Climate change mitigation
  • strategic planning
  • game theory
  • environmental planning
  • climate change adaptation
  • climate change mitigation


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