The research done within the UEP group contributes to conceptual and theoretical development of adaptation and urban environmental policy.

In our empirical work, we use quantitative, qualitative and integrated/mixed methods, including stakeholder participation, interviews, surveys, social network analysis, Delphi, serious gaming, systematic reviews and qualitative comparative analysis. We mainly concentrate on urban topics or issues which interact with urban topics, and the scale of our research varies from local case studies to global scale statistical analysis.

Cities and their populations are vulnerable to different impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise, floods and heat waves, and need to have robust strategies for adapting to climate change. They are intricately linked with the surrounding countryside and, through globalisation, with other countries and regions. For instance, food and energy consumed within the cities are mainly sourced and produced outside the city boundaries, and potential impacts of climate change on the supply of these commodities need to be identified and assessed.

Cities emit large amounts of greenhouse gases, but they also play a significant role in global efforts to mitigate climate change. Urban climate policies must address the mitigation and adaptation goals together as synergistically as possible. Beyond climate action, cities must also adopt integrated planning to consider sustainability across sectors and ensure healthy, accessible, and socially just living environments for all citizens.

Governance and policy
  • Urban development processes, covering adaptation to climate change, post-disaster recovery and re-development processes assessing how multi-level governance can better enable equitable climate resilience. Urban policies and development are studied by applying a broader lens of sustainability to identify varying operationalisations of sustainability in practice and to further incorporate issues related to e.g., social equity and justice into the analyses.

  • Complex climate change risks and different ways to adapt to them. We focus on current and future impacts taking into account the dynamics and interrelations between the socio-economic and biophysical drivers. This includes mapping of the cascading impacts through socio-ecological systems. In addition, we assess climate risk adaptation monitoring and evaluation to enhance learning and improve policy and practice.  

  • Disaster risk management across scales. At the regional level, we look at the warning systems and preparedness networks, for instance, how they shape disaster preparedness. Our work also touches upon spatial scale mismatches in disaster management, for example, how to match coarse climate risk data with local vulnerabilities, and state-level policies with municipal responsibilities. In addition, we study household preparedness, e.g., factors connected to an individual’s perception of their own responsibility in preparing for long power failures. We also study the post-disaster recovery phase, specifically looking at risk mitigation through collaborative processes. 

  • Development of climate policy, facilitated by learning through climate networks, as well as the development of climate policy instruments that involve private sector and citizens. Our research particularly promotes adaptation to climate change in the different levels of governance and different sectors, as well as assesses cross-border risks from climate change, for example, to the energy supply chains of the Nordic countries. 

  • Approaches to governance theory, exploring multi-level and polycentric governance arrangements and various governance principles, such as e.g., adaptive, or anticipatory, to study climate governance and enhance climate resilience.  


Our latest research projects deal with e.g., climate-related health risks in cities and policies to tackle them, building climate resilience at the regional level, digital advances in adaptation to climate change, climate justice, and tracking/monitoring of adaptation progress in cities. More details on ongoing research can be found in researchers' profiles. 

Water governance

Climate change and other environmental changes often manifest themselves through water, for instance in relation to changes in floods, droughts and water quality. To tackle water-related changes, risks and vulnerabilities, sustainable management of water resources is needed. We have analysed water governance and water-related changes especially in River Vantaa which is located in Helsinki metropolitan area but also in other areas across the globe. We are interested in the social impacts of flooding and water quality and how communities and societies are dealing with water-related changes. We have arranged participatory workshops and used analysed historical datasets and policy documents.