Systematic review of smart cities and climate change adaptation

Jo-Ting Huang-Lachmann (Faculty of Business and Economics, Technische Universitaet Dresden, Dresden, Germany)

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

ISSN: 2040-8021

Publication date: 19 June 2019



Understanding policy consequences for cities is very important in an urban setting, especially in this era of developing solutions for grand challenges. Climate change adaptation and smart cities are emerging topics in the climate change and sustainability domain. Therefore, this paper aims to achieve a better understanding of policy consequences and exploring synergies of climate change adaptation and smart cities are valuable for both research and practice.


This paper systematically reviews synergies of smart city applications in urban climate change adaptation literature. A systematic literature review and content analysis are carried out to answer the research questions and a theoretically based smart cities concept matrix with synergetic coproduction theory is used to assess the empirical studies.


Key findings are that the model of synergetic coproduction could identify the benefits co-existing in smart city and climate change adaptation. While smart people and smart government play the fundamental roles, synergies could co-occur in other smart city dimensions. Smart city applications in climate change adaptation could increase competitiveness in cities by exploiting the opportunities as well as reducing the harmful risks.

Research limitations/implications

The outcomes of the smart city applications in climate change adaptation aim to contribute to the exploration of developing indicators for smart city studies in climate change.

Practical implications

The findings provide successful examples for city governments and stakeholders to identify the low-hanging fruits as well as win-win adaptations. The results could also serve as the exploration of indicators in the field of smart city in climate change. The smart cities concept with the synergetic coproduction theoretical model could be further developed into a sustainability accounting and reporting methodology for cities to improve their sustainability information management.

Social implications

The successful cases showing benefits could serve as examples for public-private partnerships to develop strategies to exploit opportunities in smart city applications and climate change adaptation. The review results also show that the integrated approach of smart city and climate change adaptation is possible and beneficial – hopefully the city managers and policymakers will continue to apply the integrated approach with smart city and further climate action agenda.


This study combines two emerging topics in the assessment, climate change adaptation and smart cities, and represents a new way of assessing literature and possibly policy outcomes for the cities. By using the theoretical framework from smart cities and theory of coproduction, a theory-based framework is developed for assessing the empirical studies of climate adaptation in cities. The findings from the systematic literature review indicate relations among smart city dimensions in a clear manner and also identify the synergies of smart cities and climate adaptation.



Huang-Lachmann, J. (2019), "Systematic review of smart cities and climate change adaptation", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

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