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Connecting Nature project: nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation

9 June 2017

Connecting Nature project: nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation

The Connecting Nature project kicked off yesterday at Trinity College Dublin (Ireland). Connecting Nature is a €12m European-funded project to position Europe as a global leader in the innovation and implementation of Nature-based Solutions. Three cities: Glasgow (United Kingdom), Poznan (Poland) and Genk (Belgium) will invest in multi-million-euro large scale implementation test-beds of Nature-based Solutions, followed by eight further cities: A Coruna (Spain), Bologna (Italy), Burgas (Bulgaria), Ioannina (Greece), Malaga (Spain), Nicosia (Cyprus), Pavlos Melas (Greece) and Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

The city of Genk aims to use nature-based solutions to tackle city issues like water management, and to provide multifunctional recreational areas, for example by developing the Stiemerbeek Valley. Glasgow aims to help provide convenient access to high-quality green spaces to its citizens and to continue the innovative flood management measures that are already in place, for example climbing walls and outdoor public seating areas that also help soak up flood water. Poznan has also transformed parts of the city with some impressive innovations, for example mobile greenery and furniture in the courtyard of the City Hall, rain gardens and four new municipal beaches along the Warta river.

The project will try out natural approaches to tackle challenges related to climate change adaptation, health and well-being, social cohesion as well as sustainable economic development. A number of businesses are also partners of the project, with the aim to spur on new green companies and social enterprises. ICLEI is a partner of the project, and will engage cities internationally in China, Brazil and Korea to allow international to allow peer-to-peer learning to scale up urban resilience, innovation and governance via nature-based solutions.

For more information, please see https://twitter.com/CONNECTINGNBS.

Open European Day in focus

8 June 2017

Open European Day in focus

Open European Day at Bonn Resilient Cities took place on 3rd May 2017 with over 100 participants. Representatives of European and global cities caught up with colleagues and collaborators from the climate change adaptation and resilience sector, researchers, the private sector, financiers and EU institutions. Alberto Terenzi (ICLEI Europe) and Birgit Georgi (Strong cities in a changing climate) launched directly into discussions in their opening of the event by greeting new and returning participants by microphone with some topical questions. This friendly and informal opening gave the Open European Day community a flavour of the open and conversational atmosphere that makes the day so special. To officially open the event, Birgit Georgi spotted a regular returning participant, Deputy Mayor of Bonn, Reinhard Limbach, who took to the podium with an opening sentiment on climate reality to which the cities in the audience applauded in agreement: “What used to happen once in 100 years now happens once a year.”

Facilitators Aleksandra Kazmierczak (European Environment Agency) and Holger Robrecht (ICLEI Europe) looked back over the last year in climate change adaptation, particularly the success among cities of the European Environment Agency report “Urban adaptation to climate change in Europe 2016 — Transforming cities in a changing climate,” which was launched at last year’s Open European Day and been widely used by cities since.

Cities need support in adapting to climate change
Sirpa Hertell (Committee of the Regions) joined the opening panel as a unique voice representing both the Committee of the Regions and the Finnish city and municipality Espoo, where she is a city councillor. She stressed that cities and regions should be helped to find the right combination of public and private funding for adapting to climate change, and called on researchers and universities to support cities in assessing their climate risks and vulnerability.
A lot of data and technical tools for climate change adaptation in cities have been gathered and produced, but the crucial step is making scientific results useable. This was the message from Nicolas Faivre (European Commission – DG Research) on the need for cities to articulate their needs so that they can be supported in climate action. This kind of transfer depends on exchange and co-creation between researchers and cities as well as collaborative events such as Open European Day.

Politicians need to commit to climate change adaptation
Climate hazards and extreme climate events often function as a trigger for adaptation policies to be implemented. In Vejle’s case, alongside broad work on resilience underway in the city, attention was drawn to the need for adaptation following heavy rains and flooding last year. While there can be many different reasons why cities decide to implement climate change adaptation measures, including reactions to hazards and disasters, recreational or aesthetic improvements or for city planning logistics, Peter Massini (City of London) reminded his colleagues from around Europe that these moments are crucial opportunities for practitioners with more knowledge and awareness of the co-benefits of adaptation. Once funding and permission for an adaptation measure has been approved through political commitment, policy officers in municipalities and city councils are the ones who can capitalise on the many co-benefits: from health, biodiversity, flood risk management, air quality and reducing the urban heat island effect to areas as diverse as social cohesion and economic advantages.

Cities have common climate challenges
“Solutions should add social value to the city for cities and also raise awareness about risks," said Anne Petersen (City of Vejle) and suggested that other cities make note of measures like the nature-based flood management solutions in Vejle that also provide recreational water areas. Vejle has been working as part of the Smart Mature Resilience project and its involvement in the 100 Resilient Cities network to help citizens understand the concepts of climate change adaptation and resilience, as this word does not exist in Danish. Communication on climate is a challenge common to European cities. In London’s case, Peter Massini addressed the difficulty of motivating citizens to engage with climate issues, which they can find abstract or irrelevant. For example, in London, it is easy to communicate air quality issues, but flooding London has been transforming: it has a climate adaptation strategy and is now developing a London environment strategy.

Making progress on climate action
“Cities have been doing adaptation without calling it so,” as Sandro Nieto Silleras (European Commission DG Clima) noted before inviting cities to communicate their local energy and climate action needs to the European Commission’s DG Clima and the Global Covenant of Mayors via a survey. He commended cities for their progress on climate change adaptation and encouraged cities to communicate their stories and to help their peers replicate their successful measures.

Guimarães has been able to save money and work towards the Sustainable Development Goals by working with local researchers. A flood management project in the historical city centre helped the city eliminate floods in the area and by extension, all flood-related losses in the area, since the measures were implemented in 2015. The city of Bilbao, a partner of the RAMSES project and RESIN project, which were supporters and co-organisers of the event respectively, showed how the city has made great leaps recently in its work on climate change by including a chapter on climate change in its master plan and elaborating a sustainable urban mobility plan.

Insider tips: how cities can finance adaptation

One question on many cities’ lips and a barrier brought up on every edition on Open European Day is how to access financing to fund climate adaptation projects. Stefanie Lindenberg (European Investment Bank) gave specific advice for cities on how to write successful applications to the EIB’s Natural Capital Financing Facility, which provides loans and investments between €1m-€50m to cities for climate change adaptation projects. How can cities have their applications approved? Favourable factors are: well-defined projects, well-defined stakeholders and realistic capacity expectations, and the presence of a city adaptation strategy. Innovation as it relates to nature-based solutions can be useful, but innovation is not necessarily the most important criteria overall.

The event also hosted a successful ‘OED Marketplace’ including stands by ICLEI, the EEA, RESIN, RAMSES, PLACARD, the EIB, DG CLIMA and DG RESEARCH. The day concluded with the ‘Sound of Adaptation’: a collaborative improvisation by all of the conference participants and facilitated by Clara Grimes (ICLEI Europe). Four cycles of climate change challenges: storms, rain, flooding and heatwaves were created with acoustic sounds, and live recordings of the sounds created rhythmic electronic loops, creating an immersive experience where the players became increasingly aware of their part in the climate system. The effect became increasingly clamorous, as the mixture of recorded loops and acoustic sounds reached a crescendo, when the groups synced in with one another, calming down the electronic noise and leaving natural swoops and falls of a healthy and adapted climate system.

Photos are available of the conference on Flickr. Video interviews of the event with Nuno Lopes, City of Almada and Lykke Leonardsen, City of Copenhagen are available on ICLEI Europe’s YouTube channel. A full report on the conference will be made available in early autumn 2017.

Cities and scientists co-create interactive simulation game on first day of SMR Glasgow workshop

17 May 2017

Cities and scientists co-create interactive simulation game on first day of SMR Glasgow workshop

Glasgow City Council welcomed project partners, project cities and local stakeholders to the Lighthouse, Glasgow this morning for the first day of the Smart Mature Resilience project’s review workshop. During the morning session, the partners built on progress made at the project’s recent workshop, where European cities and a group of projects focusing on related topics met to compare tool development and discuss the optimal conditions for developing possible standards for resilience management in cities.

The SMR project is developing a Resilience Management Guideline supported by five tools, which provides a pathway to lead cities towards a more resilient future. Each tool serves a complementary purpose. The Resilience Maturity Model helps cities to identify their level of resilience maturity and helps them to identify policies that would be helpful measures towards resilience-building. The Risk Systemicity Questionnaire can bring together diverse stakeholders in a city to better understand their awareness of risk and the interrelatedness of risk. The Resilience Information Portal can provide useful software to cities, which they can use to make their communication system more resilient.

During the workshop in Glasgow, cities and scientific partners worked closely together to continue co-development of the System Dynamics Model, which is a game-like online learning tool to help strategic managers and other stakeholders involved in budgeting and strategic planning for resilience in cities identify and decide the most efficient and most strategically accurate policies to implement, and the order in which to do this.

The tool functions with an interactive interface, where users input a symbolic budget for resilience development and adjust the proportional investment in different areas regarding resilience for their city. The user can then run simulations of the effects of prioritizing investment in different areas in different order, using the tool as a kind of playground to trial methods of policy prioritization in a safe environment. Intensive collaborative sessions and exercises with TECNUN, University of Navarra and CIEM, University of Agder collected input from the SMR cities of Glasgow, Kristiansand, Donostia, Vejle, Rome, Riga and Bristol to validate the tool and ensure that it is an ideal format for immediate application and use by cities.

A further tool for Resilience Policies will then provide information, examples and case studies of the policies identified through the Resilience Maturity Model and the System Dynamics Model. The workshop will continue tomorrow with sessions hosted by the University of Strathclyde to work with cities on co-developing this tool.

Impressions of the first day are available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/iclei_europe/sets/72157683833382116/with/34331508890/.

Development of the RESIN e-Guide

16 May 2017

Development of the RESIN e-Guide

The RESIN project is developing an e-Guide, which is an online platform designed to provide decision support for climate change adaptation planning by city administrators. It does this by:
• Providing a structured and comprehensive overview of the various steps and activities that an urban adaptation process consists of;
• Providing practical, user-oriented support to actually perform such an adaptation process;
• Providing a portal to the most relevant sources of information and supporting methods available on the web, including the provision of new tools and methods that are currently not available;
• Providing guidance (where attainable) for choosing the best approaches, methods, tools and information sources for particular situations and particular steps;
• Providing references to evidence based information;

The development of the e-Guide has just entered a new phase. The high-level design has been finished, and is recorded in an extensive document. It describes the functions of e-Guide, its intended use, its encompassing components and how they work together. It also gives the requirements for development and describes the development and test plan.

This means that the project will now focus on the development of the e-Guide, define how it will work, what it should look like and how it will interact with the user. This work is currently being undertaken in WP6. The first mock-up versions of the e-Guide have been shown to the consortium in the Manchester GA meeting of 9 May. A process to verify and enhance these designs with potential users is currently being undertaken.

Cities send the message at Open European Day to “Go ahead and act!” on climate change adaptation

10 May 2017

Cities send the message at Open European Day to “Go ahead and act!” on climate change adaptation

Deputy Mayor of Bonn Reinhard Limbach opened Open European Day 2017 on 3rd May 2017 in Bonn with the observation that “what used to happen once in 100 years now happens once a year". 104 representatives from cities in European and as far abroad as Buenos Aires attended Open European Day at Bonn Resilient Cities along with climate change adaptation and resilience experts from the academic community, the private sector, financiers and EU institutions to attend two panels and nine workshops focussing on the key themes of innovation, co-creation and transformation. Stephanie Lindenberg of the European Investment bank provided details of how cities can successfully apply for funding of between €1m-€50m for climate change adaptation projects through the Natural Capital Financing Facility.

Lykke Leonardsen explained that the city of Copenhagen joined the 4th Open European Day “to share the knowledge that we have in Copenhagen with other cities, but also to learn from other cities, because a lot of European cities are facing the same challenges... And because the same cities participate, you can actually get to follow the development they are going through.” Bilbao, a partner city of the event’s co-organiser, the RESIN project, showed how Bilbao included a chapter on climate change in its Master Plan and started work on its SUMP. Sirpa Hertell, Committee of the Regions spoke from her experience as Espoo city councillor to stress that cities and regions need the support of researchers and universities to assess their climate risks and vulnerability.

New ICLEI member Guimarães shared their successful flood management project in a historical part of the city, which has helped to eliminate flooding in the area since 2015. Finally, Nuno Lopes, city of Almada reflected on the support that ICLEI gives to cities: “The importance of ICLEI with Almada has been huge... It has been a fantastic help for us to find out some climate regulation solutions that we might use in our city in the next years.” Open European Day was organised by ICLEI Europe and the European Environment Agency.

Watch the video interview with Nuno Lopes at Open European Day here.

Watch the video interview with Lykke Leonardsen at Open European Day here.

See the photos of the event here.

A follow-up reported will be circulated soon. To receive the report, please contact iclei-europe-adaptation@lists.iclei.org.

Greater Manchester continues to engage with partners on climate resilience and the RESIN project

19 April 2017

Greater Manchester continues to engage with partners on climate resilience and the RESIN project

In December 2016, a refreshed Climate Change and Low Emissions Implementation plan was launched. This plan is owned by the Greater Manchester Low Carbon Hub, a board of public, private, voluntary, university and government representatives.

The RESIN project was very pleased to be invited, along with Greater Manchester’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative, to present jointly on these two closely aligned projects and on progress and next steps around a range of climate resilience issues and actions.

Very positively, there was a real recognition of both the importance of critical infrastructure resilience and the urban systems approach of RESIN. There was also a clear desire to see genuine action on the issue of climate and wider resilience issues. But whilst the efforts of both these projects were making at tackling these were welcomed, a clear frustration was communicated around the complexity of the issues and the other barriers which slow or even stop practical action occurring.

But the strong support and recognition of the issues from around the room, particularly from water and energy utility representatives, will positively help the GM RESIN team continue to progress its work over the summer. This includes following up on the 2 Impact Chains now produced (one for pluvial flooding to road transport infrastructure and the other on the impact of extreme heat/drought on the functionality of GM’s green infrastructure. Similarly, the wider GM Critical Infrastructure Risk assessment planned for the next 6 months will have senior and cross sector support from the board members and their organisations which will help secure data and technical input into the co-creation process.

European Investment Bank supports the Open European Day 2017

19 April 2017

European Investment Bank supports the Open European Day 2017

Open European Day at Bonn Resilient Cities will bring European cities together to discuss their common challenges and share their successful solutions in a uniquely interactive event that sees cities taking centre stage and sharing cases from their most recent experiences in a conversational format. Innovation, co-creation and transformation in cities are the event’s three main themes and will frame the opening plenary and the break-out sessions. During the plenary, organizers ICLEI Europe and the European Environment Agency will open the day with the European Commission’s DG Research and DG CLIMA, the European Investment Bank, the Committee of the Regions and with the participating cities.

The event will include the OED Marketplace, where participants can share, display and discuss their latest ideas and results. The Marketplace will feature a Road to Adaptation Wall, an Adaptation Poetry Slam, where participants can present their organization or project in super-fast elevator pitches, and the day will finish with a musical exploration of the Sound of Adaptation.

The Open European Day programme is made up of interactive workshops where cities present a real-life challenge and explore solutions to these challenges with participants. On the topic of innovation, EASME and the European Commission will hear examples from Berlin Moabit and Valladolid on using technology for innovating adaptation. Ingrid Coninx (Wageningen University) and the European Investment bank will frame a discussion between Raffaella Gueze, City of Bologna and José Ferreira, City of Lisbon about innovative financing for climate adaptation, and Guimarães (Portugal) will share its experiences with innovation in multi-purpose nature-based solutions.

On the topic of co-creation, Athens (Greece) and the European Environment Agency will contribute on citizens as drivers of change, Peter Massini (City of London) will talk about adaptation and social inclusion and a discussion on co-creation with research and business will bring together contributions by Alistair Ford (University of Newcastle), Marjorie Breyton (Life DERRIS Project) and examples by the city of Vagos (Portugal), Valka (Latvia) and Exeter (UK).

Bratislava (Slovakia) and next year’s European Green Capital of Nijmegen (Netherlands) will share their impressions of how transformation manifests in a physical sense in their cities, facilitated by Birgit Georgi (Physical City Adaptation). The PLACARD project, the Provence of Potenza and the City of Vejle will explore how adaptation relates to the other urban development agendas, and a final Covenant of Mayors session on city transformation through administration will include contributions by Bilbao (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark).

Attendance at the Open European Day is free of charge to cities and registration is open at https://fs8.formsite.com/iclei12/form92/index.html. A draft programme is now available on the Bonn Resilient Cities website at http://resilientcities2017.iclei.org/open-european-day/.

Bratislava impact chain workshop

13 April 2017

Bratislava impact chain workshop

On April 4, 2017 RESIN project partners Bratislava City and Comenius University (UNIBA) hosted a workshop aimed at drafting initial impact chains in order to start the assessment of vulnerability of the city and its infrastructures to the impacts of climate change. Throughout the preparation of the meeting, RESIN Partner and leader of WP2, Fraunhofer, helped and guided the City partners in order to harmonise the workshop with past workshops, which have already taken place in Bilbao or Manchester.

The meeting was thematically broken down into two sessions. The morning session focused more on urban population and the impacts of climate change on health and quality of life. The second (afternoon) session focused on green infrastructure: as a critical infrastructure, sensitive to climate change on hand a being a an important factor in adaptation and mitigation on the other. The associated climate change risks were pluvial flooding and heatwaves for the urban population and droughts in relation to green infrastructure. Altogether, 16 stakeholders joined the meeting; spatial planners and environmental managers as well as external stakeholders; representing social care and care for elderly and the Slovak hydrometeorological institute.

As part of the discussion, the point was raised of out how the results of vulnerability assessments can be utilised in terms of urban planning and prevention risk resulting from climate change risks. The outcomes of the meeting are currently being analysed, and further meetings are planned to engage further city stakeholders.

European cities and researchers discuss resilience and standardisation at SMR workshop

12 April 2017

European cities and researchers discuss resilience and standardisation at SMR workshop

Representatives of eleven European cities and communities as well as scientific experts in the field of resilience as well as the standardisation committees ‘Security and Resilience’ and ‘Sustainable cities and communities’ met in Berlin on 4th April 2017 to discuss resilience in cities and communities with a particular focus on the potential of standardisation to support high-quality management and decision-making at city level as a key element in fostering effective resilience development in cities.

European resilience projects SMR, DARWIN, IMPROVER, RESILIENS, RESOLUTE, Resccue and RESIN convened at this event, as they are working towards similar goals, and could see the benefit in an open discussion of their current state of progess. The day opened with a summary of the current status and progress made so far by each project, keeping in mind potential for collaboration and sharing of results. The presentations showed that the different projects have a variety of focus areas, priorities and methods, while all working towards mutually complementary goals. Smart Mature Resilience and RESIN bring together cities and researchers to investigate and build urban resilience in European cities. While both projects take cities as their particular areas of interest, SMR encompasses the wider spectrum of resilience aspects including social dynamics, while RESIN pinpoints the relevance of climate change adaptation as part of resilience-building.

The RESILENS and IMPROVER projects take critical infrastructures as their main focus, and IMPROVER was of particular interest to the cities present due to the project's plans to develop a game-based training app. Like IMPROVER, RESOLUTE will develop a game-based mobile e-learning tool. Finally, the comprehensive RESCCUE project showed the comprehensive scope of the five-year project and its Hazar tool.

The cities then joined a city-specific workshop while the research projects compared the overlaps between their project outputs so far and the prospects for combining or contributing to one anothers' tools. In the city workshop, cities shared their resilience challenges and examples of good practice and contributed to how they might see standardization supporting their local resilience-building process.

New tool 'Risk Systemicity Questionnaire' launched

30 March 2017

New tool 'Risk Systemicity Questionnaire' launched

SMR has completed and shared its latest tool, the Risk Systemicity Questionnaire (RSQ), which is now available to cities. The RSQ is an Excel based tool where users are asked to consider the relative likelihood of a broad range of risks in their cities. These risks are spread across 9 topics: health, climate change (air pollution), climate change (flooding), social inequalities, ageing (population), riots, immigration, social cohesion and social alienation and are considered as networks of interrelated risks. These networks of risks are presented as risk scenarios, some of which result in vicious cycles. Users progress through the tool by completing questions which ask them to consider whether defined risks scenarios are likely or not to occur in their cities.

Based on the responses to the questions contained in each of the topics of the RSQ, participants are provided with a relative risk score (an estimated risk level for the city) and an awareness score (the level of knowledge the city has about the possible risk scenarios). In addition to this, users can access policies recommendations that may be used to address those risk scenarios that are of most threat to the city.

Not only does completing the Risk Systemicity Questionnaire help cities to assess their exposure to risk, but it also indicates their level of awareness of risk and where cities should prioritise their efforts. The purpose of the questionnaire is for it to be used by groups of users with diverse areas of expertise so that it can prompt valuable discussions where different stakeholders’ experiences can be brought together to determine a city’s priorities to enable them to anticipate and appropriately respond to future challenges.