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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


5.3 How can I best apply mainstreaming adaptation into the existing urban policy framework and what instruments can I put in place?

Adaptation should not be performed in isolation from the existing urban policy framework that covers policies, strategies, policy 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 scarce resources, help policy makers find synergies between development and adaptation and reduce conflicts among policies. 


The evaluation of the ongoing activities in various policy areas and sectors carried out under the previous steps and the dialogue with sectoral stakeholders will provide a municipality with an overview of adaptation mainstreaming opportunities in all the various sectoral policies.

The main essential entry points for adaptation that cannot be overlooked are urban planning, budgeting and risk management.

Town planning is an important entry point for mainstreaming urban adaptation. The review of several planning documents is required to identify options and strategies for urban adaptation. These include:

  • Town and country planning acts and zoning regulations
  • Existing land use plans
  • Development control rules and building by-laws
  • District planning manuals
  • Building codes
  • Urban Development Plan Formulation and Implementation guidelines
  • City master plans
  • Sustainable development strategies and plans
  • Integrated climate change strategies and plans
  • Disaster risk management and emergency response plans
  • Specific sectoral strategies and plans, as detailed in Q2.5


Informed by a proper assessment of risks, city planners can employ many measures, including risk-based territorial planning, building codes, early warning systems and emergency response planning.

Mainstreaming adaption into budgets is also essential and can be easiest achieved for win-win solutions. Acquiring and prioritizing scarce resources to implement climate adaptation practices is another challenge. As noted above, the mainstreaming of adaptation decisions into all dimensions of government will allow implementation to occur over time using existing budgets and balancing incremental costs with the economic, environmental, and social values produced.

Given the current politics of climate change adaptation and the extent to which it is on the agenda, a useful approach may not be to 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 to target specific strategies to the most urgent, cheapest, or highest net-benefit activities.

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