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Growing the climate adaptive capacity of 21 European cities

Using CaDD to investigate and develop the unique adaptive capacity of 21 different European cities.

Cities face severe, yet differing impacts from climate change including; flooding, heatwaves and water scarcity coupled with coastal impact for those cities in vulnerable locations.

Climate Sense delivered a project in partnership with Riccardo-AEA, ICLEI, Arcadis, The University of Manchester and Adelphi for the European Commission Directorate General on Climate Change, it had a 3-fold purpose:

  1. It aimed to build the capacity of and assist 21 European cities to develop and implement climate adaptation strategies.

  2. To provide additional technical support for cities to implement urban adaptation to climate change.

  3. To raise crucial awareness amongst cities about the importance of preparing for climate change in cities.

Climate Sense approach

CaDD incorporated a new framework for understanding Urban Climate Change Vulnerability and Risk. This facilitates longterm benchmarking for urban based organisations.

CaDD generated, Adaptive Capacity assessments of 21 European cities. Where cities face different threats, they are not a homogenous groupGeographical differences, contrasting climate threats & unique adaptive capacities highlighted the need for tailor made strategies for each city. As such, multi-dimensional, tailored approaches were needed to develop adaptation strategies across each of the 21 cities.

Outcomes of the CaDD diagnostic

The project identified that capacity for climate adaptation across the 21 cities was highly varied, with the majority low but with some high capacity examples. Capacity building and support urgently needs to be grown, especially where major long, lifetime decisions are being taken. Capacity growth is needed in 3 major categories:

  • Urban Adaptation Management,

  • Knowledge Management and

  • Governance & Financing.

CaDD also identified city specific challenges climate challenges including:

  • There is a lack of awareness of understanding of adaptation & a lack of baseline information about climate threats.

  • Greater emphasis needed on mitigation as opposed to adaptation.Ineffective internal communication about climate threats across city departments.

  • Only those cities that partnered with competent third party, climate change modelling organisations

    had large scale data on climate change hazards.

  • A lack of adequate political commitment for funding climate adaptation.

  • Climate data was dispersed data across departments and little cohesive coordination.

CaDD implemented new inter-linked initiatives to develop Pan-European adaptive capacity across 21 cities of varying capacity, including:

  • Climate Sense used a multi-dimensional, tailored approach to develop individual adaptation strategies to meet each city's needs that included:

  • Built bespoke adaptation plans for each city that were tailored to build on and augment their strengths and address their unique climate challenges.

  • Facilitating peer-to-peer learning between Cities that were on the same 'adaptation pathway' but that were one level apart. This was found to significantly boost learning and action for both parties.

  • Climate Sense created a learning platform that supported and promoted adaptation action. The platform also enabled cities to share their experience of the 'prioritised steps'.

A macro, Pan-European climate adaptation framework would expedite the capability of individual cities to develop climate change adaptation strategies and capacity.

The project illustrated how a macro-framework for climate capacity building and an information exchange on adaptation can be provided by the EU or an overarching network. Cities could then engage and be supported, then coached to make rapid and efficient progress in developing climate adaptation strategies. There is a clear role for the EU to also provide over-arching political support for climate adaptation strategies.

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