Home Knowledge Tools Getting started 3.1 Creating a catalogue of relevant adaptation options
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Identifying adaptation options

3.1 Creating a catalogue of relevant adaptation options

Urban areas are hubs for human activities and are often impacted by several climate change hazards simultaneously. Therefore, adaptation measures need to cover a broad range of issues, including technological, informational, organizational, behavioural, ecosystem-based and socio‐economic at various governance levels, sectoral as well as cross‐sectoral. Developing a catalogue of measures provides a systematic collection of potential adaptation options for the specific urban context which can be used for the subsequent assessment and selection process. 

When starting out compiling the catalogue of adaptation options for consideration, the overall approach and objectives of adaptation planning in the municipality need to be contemplated. In general adaptation options aim for one or several of the following:

  • Accept the climate change impacts and bear the losses that result from risks (e.g. managing retreat from sea level rise),
  • Offset losses by sharing or spreading the risks or losses (e.g. through insurance),
  • Avoid or reduce exposure and/or vulnerability to climate risks (e.g. through land-use planning, building new flood defences, or changing behaviours, location or activity),
  • Exploit new opportunities (e.g. through engaging in a new activity, or changing practices to take advantage of changing climatic conditions).

Another way of considering adaptation options is to think of the types of actions that can be taken. These may be:

1. "Soft" adaptation measures, including the following types:

  • Managerial (e.g. introduce flexi-time work during heat waves),
  • Strategic (e.g. commission new buildings with climate resilient design as part of planned urban building programme)
  • Temporary (e.g. use shading to reduce solar heat increases)

2. Technical / "grey" (e.g. refurbish building; enhance physical flood defences, increase capacity of sewage systems),

3. Ecological / "green" (e.g. implementing or expanding green infrastructure for water runoff management or microclimate moderation).

Municipalities can also choose to focus on increasing "adaptive capacity" which involves developing the ability of people, authorities and sectors to respond effectively to climate change. This includes actions within the following areas:

  • accessing research results or participating in research projects;
  • undertaking research;
  • monitoring data and relevant information sources;
  • raising awareness through education, sharing experiences and training initiatives; and
  • creating a supportive institutional framework, by e.g.:
    • changing standards;
    • amending legislation;
    • establishing local funding mechanisms;
    • providing good practice guidance; and
    • developing appropriate policies, plans and strategies.

When compiling measures attention should be given to:

  • choosing measures which responding to the vulnerabilities identified;
  • including also non-conventional and innovative solutions (doing business as usual often hampers adaptation);
  • ensuring a good mix of different types of options (e.g. technical – non technical);
  • putting long-term goals above short-term political interests; and
  • facilitating further discussion and a better communication with politicians and stakeholders, it is recommended that adaptation options are described in fact sheets following a common structure as described in Step 4.1.

Adaptation options can be retrieved from literature sources and databases, provided by scientific experts and technical consultants, shared by colleagues from other departments and authorities, representatives of other municipalities, or obtained from other sources through stakeholder involvement. Over the  last years several catalogues of adaptation options have been developed by researchers, city networks, national or regional authorities or stakeholder organisations (see the linked resources below). These catalogues should form the basis for a selection of options that fits within the specific urban context and to the defined adaptation goals. Step 3.2 guides to the sources of examples and cases of already implemented adaptation actions in urban areas.

It also needs to be recognised that adaptation does not always require completely new action. Adaptation often means considering and adjusting activities that would be required for sustainable development of the city in any case, or mainstreaming adaptation into  existing or new legislation, norms and plans (e.g. flood risk management plans under the EU Floods Directive). Many tools are already available for cities to adapt e.g. options leveraging existing work in disaster risk reduction or the current resource and infrastructure management arrangements and plans (see also Step 2.6).

Relevant tile

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