Anna Taylor

Role/Position: Post doctoral Researcher Email: [email protected]

Dr Anna Taylor is a post-doctoral researcher in the Environmental and Geographical Science Department, specialising in urban climate adaptation, with a particular interest in transformative ways of governing water-related risks and vulnerabilities associated with climate change and urbanisation. With colleagues in the Climate System Analysis Group and the African Centre for Cities, Anna conducts inter- and trans-disciplinary research on climate resilient, sustainable urbanism, public decision making and multi-level governance. The research directions I am actively pursuing are: (1) understanding the institutional and organisational requirements for climate resilient urban (ground)water governance; and (2) developing a transdisciplinary methodology for climate-sensitive decision analysis (e.g. adaptation process chains).

I work at co-producing knowledge to address climate risks and vulnerabilities in African cities, especially through case study research, process analysis, organisational ethnography and embedded research approaches. I have spent many years acting as an intermediary between climate scientists and those faced with integrating climate concerns and climate information into the decisions and actions they are taking in various contexts. In the early part of my career (2006-2010) I worked mostly with rural actors – for example subsistence farmers in Sekhukhune District (Limpopo) and the Lesotho Highlands (through the Sida-funded Risk and Livelihoods Programme and the EU-funded NeWater project respectively) – and with national actors such as officials in national Environment Departments in Least Developed Countries tasked with developing National Adaptation Plans of Action (through the UNITAR-funded NAPA support programme).  More recently (2011 onwards) my PhD and post-doctoral work has focused on climate adaptation in urban contexts, notably in Cape Town, Windhoek, Durban, Harare and Lusaka through the Mistra Urban Futures, CLIMWAYS, FRACTAL, LIRA 2030 and GreenGov programmes. I completed my PhD entitled ‘Urban climate adaptation as a process of organisational decision making’ in 2017, investigating three cases of urban climate adaptation in the City of Cape Town.

I do some teaching and supervision on topics of climate risks and vulnerability, urban climate adaptation, climate governance and institutional theory.


Journal articles

  • Taylor, A. (2016) Institutional Inertia in a Changing Climate: Climate Adaptation Planning in Cape Town, South Africa. International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, 8 (2), 194 – 211.
  • Ziervogel, G., Waddell, J., Smit, W., and Taylor, A. (2016) Flooding in Cape Town’s informal settlements: barriers to collaborative urban risk governance. South African Geographical Journal, 98 (1), 1-20.
  • Colenbrander, D., Cartwright, A. and Taylor, A. (2015) Drawing a Line in the Sand: managing coastal risks in the City of Cape Town. South African Geographical Journal, 97 (1), 1-17.
  • Ziervogel, G., New, M., Archer van Garderen, E., Midgley, G., Taylor, A., Hamann, R., Stuart-Hill, S., Myers, J. and Warburton, M. (2014) Climate change impacts and adaptation in South Africa, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 5(5), pp. 605–620.
  • Quinn, C. H., Ziervogel, G., Taylor, A., Takama, T. and Thomalla, F. (2011) Coping with Multiple Stresses in Rural South Africa. Ecology and Society 16 (3): 2.
  • Ziervogel, G. and Taylor, A. (2008) Feeling Stressed: Integrating Climate Adaptation with Other Priorities in South Africa. Environment, March/April 2008, Vol.50, no.2, pages 32-41.
  • Morrissey, J. and Taylor, A. (2006) Fire risk in informal settlements: A South African case study. Open House International, 31(1), Special Issue on Managing Urban Disasters.


Book chapters

  • Scott, D., Davies, H., Taylor, A. and New, M. (2019) Introduction: co-producing knowledge on climate change and urban development. In:
  • Scott, D., Davies, H. and New, M (Eds.) Mainstreaming Climate Change in Urban Development: Lessons from Cape Town. Cape Town: UCT Press, 1-10.
  • Ziervogel, G., Pasquini, L., Taylor, A. and New, M. (2019) Climate change challenges in African cities: Four perspectives on progress and opportunities. In: Scott, D., Davies, H. and New, M (Eds.) Mainstreaming Climate Change in Urban Development: Lessons from Cape Town. Cape Town: UCT Press, 11-39.
  • Taylor, A. and Davies, H. (2019) An overview of climate change and urban development in Cape Town. In: Scott, D., Davies, H. and New, M (Eds.) Mainstreaming Climate Change in Urban Development: Lessons from Cape Town. Cape Town: UCT Press, 40-61.
  • Taylor, A. (2019) Managing stormwater and flood risk in a changing climate: charting urban adaptation pathways. In: Scott, D., Davies, H. and New, M (Eds.) Mainstreaming Climate Change in Urban Development: Lessons from Cape Town. Cape Town: UCT Press, 224-241.
  • Scott, D., Taylor, A., Davies, H. and New, M. (2019) Reflections on the mainstreaming of climate change into urban development decision-making in the City of Cape Town. In: Scott, D., Davies, H. and New, M (Eds.) Mainstreaming Climate Change in Urban Development: Lessons from Cape Town. Cape Town: UCT Press, 302-321.
  • Taylor, A., Oelofse, G., Roux S. & Davies, H. (2016) Urban adaptation. In: Climate Law and Governance for Low Carbon Development in South Africa, L.J. Kotze, T. Humby, A. Gilder and O. Rumble (eds). Juta and Company.
  • Tadross, M., Taylor, A. and Johnston P. (2012) Understanding Cape Town’s climate. In: Cartwright, A., Parnell, S., Oelofse, G. and Ward, S. (eds), Climate change at the City Scale: Impacts, mitigation and adaptation in Cape Town, Routledge, 9-20.
  • Bharwani, S. and Taylor, A. (2010) Understanding the dynamic nature of vulnerability to support climate adaptation and development: the case of the Lesotho Highlands. In: Climate Change Adaptation and Development Cooperation, Editors Fujikura and Kawanishi, Earthscan, London.
  • Ziervogel, G. and Taylor, A. (2010) Integrating climate change information into development and disaster management planning: Lessons from Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, In: Climate Change Adaptation and Development Cooperation, Editors Fujikura and Kawanishi, Earthscan, London.


Other media

  • Taylor, A., Anna Taylor, McClure, A., van Rooyen, L., Mubaya, C., Mamombe, R., Kushata, N. and Pasquini, L. (2019) LIRA Working Paper: Pathways to transformative climate adaptation in southern African cities.
  • Van Rooyen, L., Taylor, A., Iipinge, K.N., Mwalukanga, B., Mucavele, H., Mamombe, R., Zenda, S. and McClure, A. (2019) FRACTAL Working Paper: An Embedded Researcher approach to integrate climate information into decision making in southern African cities: lessons from FRACTAL.
  • Scott, D. and Taylor, A. (2019) FRACTAL Working Paper: Receptivity and judgement: expanding ways of knowing the climate to strengthen the resilience of cities. URL:
  • Taylor, A. (2019) Climate Information for Building Resilient South African Cities. African Centre for Cities Report for National Treasury’s Cities Support Programme.
  • Taylor, R., Butterfield, R., Bharwani, S., Devisscher, T. and Taylor, A. (2017) FRACTAL Working Paper: Research methods for understanding and supporting decision processes in African Cities. URL:
  • Taylor, A., Scott, D., Steynor, A. and McClure, A. (2017) FRACTAL Working Paper: Transdisciplinarity, co-production, and co-exploration: integrating knowledge across science policy and practice in FRACTAL. URL:
  • Taylor, A. (2017) Urban climate adaptation as a process of organisational decision making. PhD Dissertation. Department of Environmental and Geographical Science. University of Cape Town. URL:
  • Taylor, A. and Peter, C., 2014: Strengthening climate resilience in African cities: A framework for working with informality. Climate and Development Knowledge Network and African Centre for Cities Report.
  • Taylor, A., Cartwright, A. and Sutherland, S., 2014: Institutional Pathways for Local Climate Adaptation: A Comparison of Three South African Municipalities, Agence Françoise De Developpmente, Focales Series No.18.
  • Taylor, A., Harris, K, Ehrhart, C., 2010: Adaptation key terms. Tiempo, Issue 77, October 2010, pages 10-13.
  • Ziervogel, G., Taylor, A., Hachigonta, S., and Hoffmaister, J., 2008: Climate adaptation in southern Africa: Addressing the needs of vulnerable communities. Oxfam GB Report.
  • Taylor, A., Thorne, S. and Mqadi, L., 2008: Technologies for adaptation. Tiempo, Issue 67 April 2008, pages 8-13.
  • Downing, T.E, with S. Bharwani, R. Boyd, M. Hamza, C. Hepburn, M. Konar, D. Stainforth,T. Takama, T. Tanner, A. Taylor, R. Washington, and P. Watkiss, 2006. Linking Climate Risk and Adaptation. Report to the Department for International Development. Oxford: Stockholm Environment Institute.
  • Ziervogel, G., Taylor, A., Thomalla, F., Takama, T. and Quinn, C., 2006. Adapting to climate, water and health stresses: Insights from Sekhukhune, South Africa. SEI Poverty and Vulnerability Programme Report, Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden, 71pp.
  • Anna Taylor, Zarina Patel

    Adapting to a changing climate in Southern Africa

    This short film captures the key messages and debates emerging from the first Southern Africa Adaptation Colloquium, held in November 2013 and co-hosted by Mistra Urban Futures Cape Town platform’s Climate Change Think Tank, a partnership within the Knowledge Transfer Programme. Members of the partnership include The University of Cape Town’s African Climate and Development […]