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


5.1 What are the main elements of a good adaptation strategy?

Once the main concerns have been identified (Q2.8) and preferred adaptation options have been selected (Q4.4), a strategic framework for adaptation (strategy) can be established, summarising the findings from previous steps. With the strategic document on the table and having carried out a (wider) consultation with relevant authorities and further stakeholders, the political approval is essential for having a framework in place for implementing adaptation actions.


The adaptation strategy is a reference document, summarising the results of the previous steps. The recommended contents of an adaptation strategy are:

  • General introduction explaining why a strategy is needed;
  • Introduction to the climate change impacts expected including main concerns caused by climate change and other influencing factors;
  • Uncertainties in climate change, future developments and adaptation;
  • Approach chosen to develop the strategy, including cooperation with authorities inside and outside the city and other stakeholders (e.g. interest groups, NGOs, private sector);
  • General aim of adaptation and strategic direction;
  • Objectives/targets for adaptation (for selected parts of the city, person groups, sectors);
  • Information on adaption measures (can be more general in the strategy and more detailed and specific in the action plan) including:
    • Criteria for exploring, assessing and selecting adaptation options;
    • Information collected in factsheets;
    • Setting a timeframe for implementation;
    • Determining responsibilities and resources needed; and
    • Funding schemes to be used for implementing adaptation measures;
  • Activities for awareness raising, communication on adaptation and capacity building;
  • Coordination and synergies between the national and sub-national level as well as private adaptation responses;
  • Stakeholder feedback received on the draft strategy;
  • System and timeframe for revision of strategy, including provisions for monitoring and evaluation;
  • Future outlook

It is recommended that a draft of the strategy is discussed in a public consultation with all relevant stakeholders (see Q1.6).

The adaptation action plan sets out what needs to be done to convert adaptation options into action, specifying what needs to be done by whom (e.g. which part of a city administration) and when and allocating sufficient resources. If the chosen adaptation measures have not been described in adaption strategy, then it should be done in the action plan. If the measures have already been identified in the strategy, then the action plan should serve to break them down into individual actions and assign concrete timeframes, responsibilities and indicators of success.

In some cases, especially in the presence of a national or regional level adaptation strategy, municipalities may not have the necessity to develop a strategy and may proceed straight to drawing up an adaptation action plan.

If the main chosen approach to implementing adaptation to climate change is through mainstreaming it into the existing policy documents and plans (see also Q5.3), it is nevertheless advisable to develop a strategic and/or planning document outlining the key impacts, sectors of action and policies for the integration of adaptation aspects in order to have an overview and facilitate coordination of the mainstreaming activities.

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