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uast_logo_2 Preparing the ground for adaptation Assessing risks and vulnerabilities to climate change Identifying adaptation options Assessing adaptation options Implementation Monitoring and evaluation


Assessing climate change risks and vulnerabilities

2.6 Identifying main adaptation concerns and defining objectives

This step aims to develop a strategic direction for the adaptation planning, based on the assessment of climate-related risks and vulnerabilities (see Step 2.4). Identifying the main adaptation concerns (e.g. which sector or which climate impact should be addressed first) is based on the analysis of the immediacy and severity of impacts, as well as on the opportunities to leverage existing disaster risk reduction strategies or the current resource and infrastructure management arrangements and plans. Given the broad nature of climate change risks and opportunities, it is advisable to carry out such prioritisation with full engagement of stakeholders (see Step 1.6).

This step supports Covenant of Mayors signatory cities to develop the "Long-term vision" and "Adaptation goals" sections of reporting platform MyCovenant (see also the offline working version of the reporting template).

There are various methods available for prioritising the main adaptation concerns (see the Guidance and tools below). In general, the main issues to be considered in prioritising which climate impacts to address include:

  • Already occurring impacts (see Step 2.1), especially the ones that are projected to become worse in the future (see Step 2.2);
  • The likelihood and severity of impacts over the near term, the medium term and the long term;
  • Whether the risk is within the mandate of the municipality or engaged stakeholders, and thus could be addressed through existing administrative arrangements;
  • Serious risks that might affect the city irreversibly (e.g. sea level rise);
  • Existing mechanisms that are aligned with adaptation actions (e.g. refurbishment of the housing stock, spatial planning, implementation of new legislation under the EU Floods Directive), which could provide useful entry points for action. Mainstreaming adaptation into existing or planned initiatives (see Step 5.3) could begin with an  examination of how the vulnerable sectors (see Step 2.3) currently respond to climate- and weather-related hazards, and through discussions with various departments in the municipality and the key stakeholders (see Step 1.6) . The relevant initiatives, sectors and strategies include:

    • Sustainable development strategies
    • Water management (e.g. River Basin Management plans)
    • Housing (e.g. refurbishment of social housing programmes)
    • Planning (e.g. spatial development plans, urban regeneration strategies)
    • Health (e.g. heat-wave plans, disease outbreak response plans)
    • Emergency services (e.g. flood response plans)
    • Social services (e.g. identification of vulnerable groups)
    • Green space and nature protection strategies
    • Transport (e.g. new infrastructure projects)
    • Energy (e.g. renewable energy investments or supply networks)
    • Climate change mitigation strategies (see also Step 5.4)
    • Tourism
    • Regional economic strategies

Once the main adaptation concerns are known, specific and realistic adaptation goals for the city or town can be defined. They should be as measurable and precise as possible, also because the subsequent monitoring and evaluation (see Step 6) of the implementation of the adaptation strategy and/or plan (see Step 5) is directly linked to the targets.

Analysing the risks and opportunities associated with adaptation requires the engagement of stakeholders. Whilst the organisation of meetings and workshops to discuss and prioritise risks is budget and time-intensive, setting the adaptation priorities in common agreement may mean that the adaptation strategy (see Step 5) is better accepted and thus has a higher chance of success.