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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, but also 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 signatories to develop the “Vision” and “Adaptation goals” sections of the reporting template.

There are various methods available for prioritising the main adaptation concerns (see the resources below). In general, the main issues to be considered in prioritising the climate impacts to address are as follows:

  • 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 actions. This could be done through examination, how the vulnerable sectors (see Step 2.3) currently respond to climate- and weather-related hazards and through discussing with various departments in the municipality, and the key stakeholders (see Step 1.6) any existing or planned initiatives into which adaptation could be mainstreamed (see also Step 5.3). The relevant initiatives, sectors and strategies include as follows:
    • 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 of the implementation of the adaptation strategy and/or plan is directly linked to the targets.

Analysing the risks and opportunities requires engagement of stakeholders. Whilst 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 likely to have higher acceptance and thus a higher chance of success.

Case studies

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Guidance and tools

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EU-funded projects

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