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Implementing adaptation

5.3 Mainstreaming adaptation in urban policies and plans

Adaptation should not be performed in isolation from the existing urban policy framework that covers sectoral policies, strategies, implementation, management and organisation structures and processes. Mainstreaming adaptation into the existing city policy framework can raise the profile of adaptation, ensure a more efficient use of resources, help policy makers find synergies between development and adaptation and reduce conflicts among policies.

Due to its cross-cutting nature adaptation could be mainstreamed in sectoral policies such as water management, transportbuilt environment or health. The evaluation of the ongoing activities in various policy areas and sectors (see Step 2.6) will provide a municipality with an overview of adaptation mainstreaming opportunities in all the various sectoral policies.

 Covenant of Mayors signatory cities are encouraged to design and report actions which integrate adaptation and mitigation and/or energy poverty components. The webinar "Integrating mitigation and adaptation for more effective climate action" explores this link and features experiences of cities.

The main entry points of mainstreaming urban adaptation are urban planning, risk management and budgeting. 

In terms of urban planning, review of several planning documents is required to identify options and strategies for integrating urban adaptation. These may include national level zoning regulations, existing land use plans, development control rules and building by-laws, district planning manuals, building codes, urban development plans, sustainable development strategies and plans, integrated climate change strategies and plans as well as disaster risk management and emergency response plans and any specific sectoral strategies and plans.

From a risk management perspective, a useful approach may be to not focus on climate change per se but rather on improving preparedness, robustness of decision making and overall resilience. Risk management approaches along with economic analysis will help targeting specific strategies to the most urgent, affordable or highest net-benefit activities.

Mainstreaming adaptation action into municipal and sectoral budgets is essential, particularly in respect to acquiring and prioritizing resources. Moreover, mainstreaming adaptation cross-cuttingly into governance will enable implementation over time within existing budgets and by balancing incremental costs with the economic, environmental and social values produced.