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Bratislava teams up with European cities to adapt to climate change

12 January 2017

Bratislava is set to host experts from the Bremen (Germany) and Arnhem (Netherlands) next week to exchange experience on climate change adaptation as part of the Mayors Adapt City Twinning Programme, for which a total of ten European cities have been selected. The meeting will take place from January 16 to 17, 2017.

Although located in different parts of Europe, all the three cities; Bratislava, Bremen and Arnhem; face summer heatwaves, periods of drought, floods and extreme weather events.

As Ingrid Konrad, Chief Architect of the City of Bratislava explains, “Bratislava is making itself internationally visible by its activities in climate change adaptation. As one of the first cities in former Eastern Europe we have elaborated and adopted a strategy for adaptation to climate change and started implementing concrete pilot projects. This is one of the reasons why we have been addressed by the coordinators of Mayors Adapt to take part in the exchange of experience”.

Bratislava, as a core city of the RESIN project, is also working with a group of ‘Tier 2’ cities; Burgas (Bulgaria), Vilnius (Lithuania), Radom (Poland) and Sfântu Gheorghe (Romania), which are observing and providing feedback as Bratislava tests newly-developed tools. RESIN investigates climate change adaptation and resilience in European cities, and as part of the project, the city is working with researchers to co-create practical and applicable tools to support cities in designing and implementing climate adaptation strategies for their local contexts. This co-creation process will also be addressed and shared as part of the upcoming meeting.

The meeting will create a space for the discussion of topics such as creating a suitable city microclimate in summer and winter months, the significance of permeable surfaces, urban greenery and the natural environment, as well as sustainable management of rainwater. The discussion shall also focus on correctly selecting adaptation measures, which have a positive impact not only on the environment but also on the economy. With special regard to economic benefits of adaptation measures, experienced experts from the Institute of Economic and Environmental Policy, University of J. E. Purkyně in Ústí nad Labem, the Czech Republic, have been invited by Mrs. Ingrid Konrad, Chief Architect of the City of Bratislava, to give a lecture on this topic. Applying suitable adaptation measures not only increases citizens’ quality of life, but it also significantly reduces the costs of heating and cooling buildings and the maintenance of green areas, as well as preventing property damage.

The City Twinning Programme enables the cities which have shown interest in this kind of cooperation to delegate their representatives – experts in climate change adaptation to a 2-day visit to another partner city. The City Twinning also enables a visit to other cities, which facilitates building partnerships between European cities and thus possibly starting future cooperation in adaptation to climate change.

Mayors Adapt is an initiative of the European Commission, which obliges the signatories to adopt concrete steps for adapting to negative effects of climate change in their territories. Currently, Mayors Adapt has a successor initiative – the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, which reflects the EU 2030 goals for adaptation to climate change and energy as well as an integrated approach in addressing adaptation to climate change and mitigating its negative impacts. Bratislava joined Mayors Adapt in 2014.

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DARWIN project invites expert input on resilience

3 November 2016

Development of the DARWIN Resilience Management Guidelines (DRMG) is progressing, and the project wants to hear what practitioners and experts in resilience and emergency management think.

An online meeting (webinar) will be held from 09.30 to 11.30 CET on Wednesday 9 November in order to present the DRMG in their current state, and gather feedback from experts and practitioners. Feedback and input from these groups is key to the DARWIN project in ensuring the DRMG are relevant and usable, and is the purpose of the DARWIN Community of Practitioners (DCoP).

Please find the webinar invitation here. For more information, please click here.

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Over 100 short video interviews on urban resilience published

7 October 2016

A resilient city is not only made up of bricks and mortar, but of flexible systems of elements working together. This complexity has been creatively visualised online in an interactive map of short video clips. As part of RAMSES, a European-funded research project on climate impacts and adaptation strategies for cities, Climate Media Factory has condensed scientific research into a compilation of over 100 short interview sequences from 33 climate change adaptation and resilience experts.

Users can define their own way of navigating the “On Urban Resilience” platform by auto-playing videos, searching by keyword or branching off into a topic-specific strand of clips to learn more in greater detail. “On Urban Resilience” is designed to help cities to find information on climate change impacts and to explore their options for adapting to climate change and for building city resilience. Contributions by experts on adaptation and resilience from across Europe cover topics such as social adaptation, local climate change models, political commitments and how to start an adaptation strategy in cities.

Frans Berkhout of King’s College London, said: “Cities are competing more and more in terms of their climate resilience. These are risks that are real, they’re tangible, investors know about them, they care about them, and therefore cities need to wake up and start to transform their infrastructures in a climate resilient way.” “On Urban Resilience” is available online for free at http://on-urban-resilience.eu/.

For more information, visit the RAMSES website.

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Glasgow places people and communities at heart of resilience strategy

5 October 2016

People and communities are the key component of a new strategy intended to build ICLEI Member City Glasgow’s (UK) resilience against the impact of the shocks and stresses faced by a city in the 21st century. The “Resilient Glasgow” Strategy details 50 different actions intended to create a stronger and more adaptable city.

Based on a detailed conversation with 3,500 Glasgow-residents, the strategy is the first of its kind to be released in the UK. It focuses on issues such as economic growth, tackling inequality, enhancing partnerships at all levels, delivering services around the needs of citizens, and building capacity for resilience among the city’s population.

Glasgow is a core city of the Smart Mature Resilience (SMR) project, which aims to support city decision-makers in developing and implementing resilience measures in their cities. As part of the project, Glasgow and its local research partner, the University of Strathclyde, are working closely together on co-creating and testing the project's tools, with a particular focus in Glasgow's case on building resilience against flood risk. Tier 2 cities of Rome (Italy) and Riga (Latvia) are observing Glasgow's progress and providing feedback, which will ensure that the final tools are widely replicable and applicable to all cities in Europe.

For more information, visit the Smart Mature Resilience website.

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Meeting report now available for 4th International Climate Change Adaptation Conference

25 August 2016

The overall meeting report of the international conference Adaptation Futures 2016, practices and solutions has just been published and is available online. It contains short reports of all sessions, many pictures and key messages and impressions from the Scientific and the Practice Advisory Committees.

ICLEI Europe co-organised the high-level round table session on "Nature-based solutions" and contributed a presentation on "Co-creating climate change adaptation and resilience decision-making support tools with cities" as part of the session on "Decision Support".

TNO also presented the RESIN project was also discussed as part of science practice session "Resilient risk management strategies for critical infrastructure within cities". 

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New edition of the Klimalotse “Climate Navigator” for municipalities

24 August 2016

The “Climate Navigator” is meant to support decision-makers in cities and local authorities in circumnavigating climate risks. The revised version is now even more attuned to municipalities’ needs, making the online guide the most up-to-date tool for climate change adaptation available in Germany.

Floods, heat waves, protection from heavy rains and storms – municipalities are on the front lines of adapting to the impacts of climate change. However, the climate adaptation challenges facing municipalities are as varied as the municipalities themselves. Decision-makers from cities and local authorities must therefore come to terms with the topic of climate adaptation early on: well-planned adaptation measures don’t just prevent risks, they also save municipalities high costs and can preserve and even increase a city’s quality of life.

In the last few months, the “Climate Navigator” provided by the German Environment Agency (UBA) has undergone a comprehensive revision and been brought up to date. In early May the new version of this tool was finally introduced. The online guide is meant to support decision-makers in cities and local authorities in circumnavigating climate risks and pursuing opportunities. The revised version of the Climate Navigator is even more attuned to municipalities’ needs. Specialised prior knowledge of the effects of climate change is thus unnecessary to use the revised edition. It is immediately available in German for free download at http://www.uba.de/klimalotse.

adelphi optimised the Climate Navigator under commission of the UBA and in close cooperation with its partners Prognos and ICLEI Europe. “The Climate Navigator allows cities and local authorities to adapt to the impacts of climate change independently and according to their needs. As a result of our comprehensive revisions, the Climate Navigator is the most up-to-date instrument for small and medium-sized municipalities now available in Germany”, said Christian Kind, Senior Project Manager at adelphi and expert on climate change adaptation.

Climate Navigator leads users to a fitting strategy in five steps

The new version of the climate navigator is more flexible and takes into account many aspects of climate adaptation more deeply than before: The focus is no longer solely on creating an adaptation strategy; users are now supported much more in developing integrated climate protection and adaptation strategies. The instrument supports cities and local authorities through five modules to reach three different goals: as needed, they can (1) develop a simple adaptation strategy, (2) create an integrated climate protection and adaptation strategy, or (3) plan and implement measures for adapting to the impacts of climate change.

Alongside the comprehensive update of the guide, the topics “Financing Adaptation Measures” and “Strategy Creation and Integration” have been particularly expanded and attuned to practices in the municipalities. Legal developments have been added, and a multitude of tips and suggestions from Climate Navigator users have been taken up. To help users more quickly orientate themselves, picture galleries illustrate the technical information with the help of examples and documents from individual municipalities. This allows users to find a range of council decisions on the implementation of adaptation processes, maps on city climates, approaches for inter-municipal cooperation, and successfully implemented strategies.

Municipal decision-makers can find and download tested templates on the website of the German Environment Agency; for example, for documenting past extreme events, or a blueprint for generating a strategy. The Climate Navigator provides assistance for working on especially challenging tasks, for example with tips given by actors from the field, or in the form of links to other instruments.

You can find the updated Climate Navigator, further materials, and the associated newsletter at www.uba.de/klimalotse.

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Bilbao to reduce flood risk by opening Deusto canal

22 August 2016

Bilbao, one of the largest cities in the Basque Country, has seen heavier rainfall, warmer winters and a heightened flood risk as a result of climate change. Bilbao is addressing these risks through participation in the international research project, ‘RESIN – Climate Resilience Cities and Infrastructures’, in which the city works with researchers to find ways to adapt to climate-related challenges.

Since the 1970s, Zorrotzaurre to the north of Bilbao had been on a continuous social and industrial decline, with only 500 people living on the peninsula at its lowest point. Today, it is the city’s biggest regeneration project. This started with the re-designation of land use in the area from ‘industrial’ to ‘residential’ in 1995. The Zorrotzaurre Master Plan was then drawn up to open the Deusto Canal, making the Zorrotzaurre peninsula into an island. The open canal and green banks will let river water flow through, reducing the water level by one metre and significantly reducing the risk of flooding. Three storm water tanks and a new flood protection wall along both riverbanks are also planned, which will help protect riverside housing.

A study conducted by the RESIN partners from the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3) found that as a result of the new waterway the 10-year return period for expected flood events will no longer apply, resulting in a 100 percent reduction in expected costs. For the 100-year return period, the estimated damages will be reduced by €162.72 million. Excavation works are already underway and expected to be completed by spring 2017.

For more information, visit resin-cities.eu. [This article is also available in Spanish.]

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Glasgow invests in development of new urban Nature Park

11 August 2016

ICLEI Member City Glasgow (UK) is set to create Scotland’s largest urban heritage and Nature Park, investing £6.8 million to create a green area that will encompass 16km² of lochs (lakes), parks, nature reserves and woodlands. The project will also see the development of walking and cycling routes and improvements to paths and signage within the park, allowing people to better experience the natural and cultural heritage of the area.

"The Seven Lochs Wetland Park is an exemplar of Green Network planning and delivery. It is a place with an abundance of natural resources; important natural habitats, historic sites and established places for recreation. This major new urban wildlife park will be the jewel in the crown of the wider Green Network and bring a host of benefits for local people and visitors alike,” said Max Hislop, Programme Manager for the Glasgow & Clyde Valley Green Network Partnership.

Glasgow is a core city of Smart Mature Resilience, a multi-disciplinary research project working for more resilient cities in Europe. The city works closely together with scientists to develop Glasgow’s resilience against hazards and challenges brought on by climate change. Glasgow is particularly working on addressing flood risk management, water issues and drainage. Urban wildlife areas provide cities with a wide variety of environmental, social and economic benefits. Making the most of the park to meet, learn and exercise together will help to strengthen communities and improve Glaswegians’ health. The natural wetlands and open green spaces can also help to absorb excess water in the case of flooding, taking Glasgow a step further on its path towards resilience.

For more information, visit sevenlochs.org.

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EEA report highlights need for urban resilience to tackle climate change effects

19 July 2016

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published a new report entitled ‘Urban adaptation to climate change in Europe 2016 – transforming cities in a changing climate’. The report provides an in-depth overview of the actions that urban planners and policymakers can take to reduce the impact of climate change, and stresses the benefits of investing in long-term preventive measures. ICLEI Europe is a co-author of the report and also supported the EEA in coordinating its production.

European cities are increasingly susceptible to the negative aspects of climate change, which are expected to increase in frequency and intensity with extreme events such as heatwaves, flooding, water scarcity and droughts. At the same time, social, economic and demographic changes can make cities more vulnerable. These can greatly impact a wide range of city functions, infrastructure and services such as energy, transport and water, and will affect urban quality of life.

The report recommends that to meet these challenges, cities must take a wider systemic approach that addresses the root causes of vulnerability to climate change. This includes better urban planning, with more green areas that can retain excess rainwater or cool dense city centres in hot weather, or by preventing the construction of houses in flood-prone areas. This approach can transform cities into much more attractive, climate-resilient and sustainable places to live and work.

For more information and to read the report, visit eea.europa.eu

RELATED NEWS

Over 120 participants attend 3rd Open European Day in Bonn

12 July 2016

Representatives from European cities met in Bonn (Germany) on 5 July to discuss their experiences and successful strategies for adapting to climate change at the 3rd Open European Day at Bonn Resilient Cities. The event was attended by over 120 cities and climate change adaptation experts. As resilience development is not only a response to the challenges caused by climate change but also an opportunity to mitigate climate change and reduce risk, the importance of taking a holistic approach was a recurring theme. As noted by Jerry Velasquez of UNISDR, while cities are engines of growth, they are also driving increases in risk.

Amongst many first-hand contributions by cities, Marie Gantois shared Paris’ (France) successful experience with refurbishing and retrofitting buildings to save energy and improve thermal comfort. Jonathan Sadler demonstrated how green infrastructure has been the key to driving green growth in the City of Manchester (UK). Thessaloniki (Greece) gained the public’s support for resilience measures by communicating the relationship between resilience and the issues most affecting citizens: employment and the economy. Further examples of cities’ input are included in an animated video from the day. The event report will be published after the summer break.

The closing session of the event saw the launch of the European Environment Agency report Urban adaptation to climate change in Europe 2016. The 3rd Open European Day was organised by ICLEI and the European Environment Agency and co-organised by the Placard and RESIN projects, and supported by the European Commission - DG CLIMA and DG Research, and the European Investment Bank.

For more information, visit the Open European Day website.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 653569.