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Bratislava is beginning to act on climate change adaptation and critical infrastructure protection. Vulnerability assessments have been carried out and an Action Plan for Adaptation is under development, and is expected to be completed in 2016. Adaptation measures are already in place, as are a number of critical infrastructure measures in the sectors of water and flood protection, transport, energy, social services and health, and green infrastructure.
Bratislava has demonstrated political commitment to climate change adaptation action and is already implementing adaption measures. However, its Action Plan is yet to be finalized and a methodology for evaluating the effect of adaption measures is still needed.
Bratislava is the capital city of the Slovak Republic with a total area of 367.9 km² and is the country’s political, economic and cultural centre. It is situated in central Europe bordered by Austria and Hungary on both sides of the Danube River, the second-longest river in Europe. The north of the city is the beginning of the Little Carpathians Mountains and the south is part of the Danube Lowland.
The population is quite young relative to other European capitals, the mortality rate is relatively low, and a high proportion of households is made up of families. Bratislava’s workforce is highly educated, with over 24% of adults educated to third level. Bratislava is currently growing, but the population is predicted to start to decline over the next ten years.
Bratislava has low rates of unemployment. The proximity to major European metropolises of Vienna (60 km) and Budapest (200 km) forms a so-called “Golden triangle” (Vienna, Bratislava and Györ/Budapest) a dynamically evolving region. The GDP per capita in the Bratislava region is 184% (Eurostat, 2013 ) of the EU average and is the highest level of all regions in the new EU member states.
Area Distribution of Unemployment in Bratislava [%]
Although the rate of unemployment is low overall, there is a clear north-south divide: certain districts in the south of the city suffer from much higher unemployment than in the north.
Bratislava is the primary destination in Slovakia for immigration and regional commuting. About 150,000 people or roughly one-third of the local workforce commute to Bratislava every day from elsewhere in Slovakia.
Bratislava has a history of high ethnic diversity, which was affected by active Slovakisation. Bratislava is therefore less multicultural today than it was a century ago. The three most highly-represented nationalities are Hungarians, Czechs and Germans.
Current city-level policies do not yet include an inclusive city strategy, or policies seeking to better meet the needs of migrant residents and boost their engagement with wider society. The future image of the neighbourhood and the place of migrants within it will depend on the authorities’ responses to the challenges of diversity.
Adaptation challenges and achievements
According to the two vulnerability studies that have been carried out in Bratislava the most immediate risk areas are heat and flooding.
Climate change adaptation challenges
- Need for political support to develop and maintain green areas
- Rainwater needs to be better managed, soaked up and collected
- The effect of adaptation measures still need to be systematically monitored and evaluated
- A town Health Officer position is needed in the City Hall
Critical infrastructure protection challenges
- Flood protection
- Collection and treatment of waste water
- Strengthening social services
- Increasing energy efficiency
- Construction of cycling infrastructure
Bratislava’s adaptation achievements
- Involvement in international scientific projects
- Programme of Economic and Social Development of the capital city Bratislava 2010-2020
- Participation in the EU-funded CityAdapt project (2012-2013)
- Adaptation Strategy for Adverse Impacts of Climate Change on the territory of Bratislava
- Signing of Mayors Adapt
- Successful implementation “Bratislava is preparing itself for climate change”
Bratislava’s critical infrastructure protection achievements
- Water: A new flood protection system designed to withstand a 1000-year flood event
- Water: Monitoring of drinking water quality by the Bratislava Water Company.
- Water: Introduction of a separated sewage system in some city districts
- Energy: Signing the Covenant of Mayors in 2012
- Transport: New bus fleet
- Transport: Simplified ticket purchases via mobile phones
- Transport: Integrated system of regional tickets
- Transport: A territorial transport systems is under preparation for Bratislava
- Social and health services: Member of the Association of Healthy Cities since 1994
- Social and health services: The Community Plan for Social Services of the City of Bratislava
- Green infrastructure: The Bratislava forest park will be redeveloped
Bratislava has already successfully implemented a set of measures aimed to address some of the city’s most critical climate risks as part of the project "The City of Bratislava is preparing for climate change - pilot application of the measures in the field of sustainable rainwater management in urban areas" (supported by EEA Grants and Norway Grants grant, project duration: 2014-2017)".
Construction of sustainable rainwater collection infrastructure and management
New infiltration bio-swales constructed
Bio-retention water systems realised with rain water infiltration and detention
Main implementing bodies: the City of Bratislava and City Boroughs New Town and Petržalka
Green roofs constructed on a home for elderly people
Main implementing body: the City of Bratislava
Trees and greenery planted
Revitalisation and increase of green space ratio and accessibility in main historical squares, in the city centre and in city boroughs
Implementing bodies: the City of Bratislava and City Borough New Town
Impermeable surface of public spaces reconstructed to new rain-water porous and permeable surfaces in the Freedom Square
Main implementing bodies: the City of Bratislava and City Borough New Town
Further information about the project can be found on Climate-ADAPT platform website.
The main adaptation needs for Bratislava concentrate on the following five areas:
1: Risk and Vulnerability assessment
In order to identify the vulnerable groups of citizens and critical infrastructure and risk-prone areas, the first goal is to do a risk and vulnerability assessment (including a spatial analysis) considering the expected increase in the number of extremely hot days and average daily temperature, irregularity and changes in rain distribution in terms of time periods as well as intensity and increase in the number of extreme weather situations, especially windstorms, local floods and decrease of water resources capacity.
2: Mainstreaming adaptation into decision-making
By mainstreaming adaptation to climate change into decision-making and approving acts, local politics and regulations as well as strategies and planning processes, Bratislava can increase its capacity to respond to changing risks and impacts related to a changing climate.
3: Awareness, information sharing and participation
The goal is to implement adaptation measures, which will support awareness raising among scientific and lay audiences about the effects of climate change on life in the city and deepen their understanding of the importance of green and blue adaptation measures. In order to reach this goal, the city has to be active in communication and cooperation with all relevant stakeholders (city districts, local communities, non-governmental organizations, partner organizations of the city, the regional government, research organizations etc.) in mainstreaming and implementing adaptation measures.
4: Climate neutral city
Through innovation, the goal is to harmonize future and existing adaptation and mitigation measures across all relevant sectors with the aim to initiate a shift towards an emission neutral city.
5: Evaluation of the adaptation process of the city
Continuously monitor and evaluate the fulfilment of the Action Plan tasks and consequently increase the functionality and quality of the self-evaluation system.
In order to fulfil the 5 strategic goals, actions in the following sectors or areas of adaption will be taken:
- Citizen health & wellbeing
- Green and blue infrastructure
- Urbanized areas (special focus on public space)
- Water security
- Energy industry