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24 July 2018

Supporting climate adaptation with the RESIN tools in Bilbao and the Basque region: reporting back on the 2nd Stakeholder Dialogue

Over 70 participants, including representatives of at least 20 local and regional governments, met in Bilbao (Spain) on 5th July 2018 for the second Stakeholder Dialogue of the RESIN project. Bilbao is a core RESIN city and has also been collaborating closely with the Basque Government on climate change adaptation measures. Deputy Mayor and Councillor for Mobility and Sustainability for the City of Bilbao, Alfonso Gil, welcomed the participants who had travelled to his city from across Spain and Europe, and as far away as Melbourne.

Speakers from the Basque Government emphasised how important it is to communicate with municipalities. “They need to let us know what we can help them with,” said María Aranzazu Leturiondo, Deputy Minister of Territorial Planning.

Susana Ruiz, Urban Planning Technician, City of Bilbao called for regulation to support municipalities in their adaptation work: “I would like to make a call to the authorities: It would be wonderful to have supra-municipal regulation from the autonomous region or from the state.”

For Aitor Zulueta, Director of Natural Heritage and Climate Change, “Adaptation to climate change is avoiding risks. It is a tool to anticipate economic problems… We need to adapt ourselves to avoid these kinds of risks, like the landslide in Bizkaya.” Intense rainfall triggered a landslide in Larrabetzu in February this year, dumping 100,000m3 of earth, causing traffic havoc due to the blocked road and trapping three people.

“Climate change is actually already happening in Paris,” said Marie Gantois, Project leader for adaptation to climate change, Climate and Energies Department of the City of Paris. The city suffered intensely under the heatwave nicknamed “Lucifer” in 2017, as well as a drought in 2017, thunderstorms in 2018 and flooding of the river Seine in spring 2018: “That was really unanticipated.”

Following the plenary discussion, participants explored the RESIN tools and methodologies in parallel sessions. For supporting the cycle of climate change adaptation decision-making, Gantois and RESIN research partner TNO led the exchange of city experiences and introduced the RESIN e-Guide’s potential to help make an adaptation plan. Mikel González Vara, City of Bilbao, along with representatives from Fraunhofer and the University of Manchester looked into diagnosing risk with the IVAVIA vulnerability assessment methodology and the online map-based European Climate Risk Typology. As the city of Zadar noted, the Climate Risk Typology could help identify other cities with similar climate risks. A new guidance document for IVAVIA has just been published and is available on the RESIN website, which includes advice on using IVAVIA in different ways, depending on resources available – an important lesson arising from working with the RESIN cities and their different needs and capacities.

The city of Bratislava and Tecnalia presented the Adaptation Options Library as a means to help prioritise adaptation measures and design incremental pathways for adaptation action. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Arcadis shared their work on creating ‘bankable’ opportunities to accelerate city resilience, based on recognising the value of adaptation measures and encouraging investment from those who can expect to later profit from publicly-funded developments. As Eric Schellekens, Arcadis said, “There is a lot more profit that you could capture and that you can have invested at the start of your project.”

New cities discovered the RESIN project in Bilbao and were impressed with the research, tools and methodologies developed. Raffaella Gueze, City of Bologna was one municipal representative discovering the project for the first time. “I found the RESIN tools very interesting and I want to try to apply the tools in my city with the implementation of our adaptation plan,” said Ms. Gueze.

The municipal representatives present agreed that climate adaptation progress depends on cooperation and communication: with citizens, with researchers, with the private sector, but most importantly, with each other. As RESIN project coordinator Peter Bosch suggested in his closing words, “Take that time to drink a cup of coffee with people from various departments before rushing in to develop your strategy… It takes years to get the full administrative setting around you... for moving towards adaptation: but it pays off.”

A photo gallery of the event is available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/iclei_europe/albums/72157696058386602.