RESIN project welcomes over 15 cities to Manchester for first Stakeholder Dialogue event


The RESIN project welcomed 52 participants, including representatives of over 15 cities from across Europe to Manchester (United Kingdom) on 1st February 2018 for the project’s first Stakeholder Dialogue. RESIN has been working with cities since 2015 to co-create tools for adaptation planning in European cities. Now that the tools are nearly complete and will be ready to launch in a matter of months, the project opened its doors to invite new members to join the RESIN community.

Manchester in the north of England is facing rainier days and unpredictable weather. The event day saw wildly changeable weather, reflecting the agenda for the day: how just one place (and one project) can be a meeting point for common conditions in otherwise diverse locations. Project Manager Hrönn Hrafnsdóttir of the City of Reykjavik is well used to the snow and hail, and joked that she and her colleagues have a particular challenge convincing Icelanders that climate change is not, in fact, good news. Even sunny southern cities could find common ground with Manchester. Ileana Luminița Balalau, Project Manager, Environmental Protection Agency Covasna, said, “We are facing heat waves and also floods.” Mark Atherton, Director of Environment, Greater Manchester, has gone through the same experience during “Boxing Day floods two years ago, where in the space of 24 hours we had several months’ worth, almost, of rainfall.”

Lucky for these politicians and municipal workers tasked with adapting their cities to a hitherto unimaginable new climate reality, RESIN scientists were on hand to offer tailor-made tools and to explain how they can be used for cities’ particular needs. These conversations began as soon as the cities and scientists greeted one another over a morning coffee, and were highlighted in “City spotlight” sessions, where cities first presented their climate change adaptation challenges and strategies for addressing them, and researchers introduced their tools in response.

City spotlights: flooding

Eira Rosberg, Sustainable Development Coordinator for the City of Lahti (Finland) explained how Lahti benefits from natural flood resilience due to its proximity to Lake Vesijärvi and other smaller nearby lakes. The Finnish city is focusing on adapting to potential flooding from stormwater in densely built and non-permeable areas, especially the city centre. Lahti has committed to strategically adapting to climate change and is joining the Global Covenant of Mayors for Energy and Climate. The city is involving citizens in the process, and neighbourhood workshops during spring 2018 will also deal with adaptation and stormwater issues. “We are interested in hearing how the RESIN tools can support our strategic adaptation plan and citizen-involved processes,” said Rosberg.

Newcastle’s biggest challenge is not from river flooding but from surface water flooding or flash flooding. In a shocking picture painted by Newcastle City Council’s Helen Hinds and John Robinson, “we had a month’s worth of rainfall in a very short space of time: the city ground to a halt” and “at least 500 properties were affected.” Newcastle’s frustration that “We’ve never got enough money to do what we want in our city,” was met with audible support from cities around the room.

For Reykjavik,”The main adaptation challenge that we are facing is sea level rise.” Additional risk factors include flooding due to higher precipitation and cloudbursts and increased frequency of extreme storms and changes in marine temperatures. Major risk factors, including areas prone to flooding, will be introduced into the district plan and a plan will be formed for necessary counter measures. This is to include introducing blue-green solutions and prepare for the use of nature-based solutions and technical solutions in flood prevention. Reykjavik aims to be carbon neutral by 2040, but, “the main challenge is breaking people out of silos to work together to solve adaptation challenges.”

Researchers respond

Climate experts from the University of Manchester and Fraunhofer IAIS in Germany considered the daunting challenges raised by the cities and took to the podium to propose some ways in which the RESIN tools can help. Jeremy Carter, University of Manchester, presented the project’s newest tool under development: the Climate Risk Typology.

The RESIN Climate Risk Typology will support adaptation planning by offering users the means to describe, compare and analyse climate risk in European cities and regions. It will be an interactive online portal that provides data and functionality to describe, compare and analyse climate risk in European cities and regions, enabling users to find cities and regions that share similar climate risk characteristics. The typology is designed to enhance the understanding and assessment of climate risk and offers supporting data and insights on different aspects of climate risk (hazard, exposure and vulnerability) that can feed into the adaptation planning process.

Climate risk encompasses many social and demographic factors that are important and interesting to citizens. As Carter introduced the future capabilities of the tool, representatives of Burgas, Bulgaria pointed out that the facility to display different statistics about a region’s specific social and demographic conditions that contribute to climate risk, for example the number of inhabitants per hospital, can be a particularly useful tool for dissemination and awareness-raising among citizens. RESIN coordinator Peter Bosch, TNO, agreed with this perspective, and added that once a city has used the RESIN tools to create some maps with locally relevant information, these can be used for local stakeholder meetings.

Fraunhofer IAIS presented the IVAVIA (Impact and vulnerability analysis for critical infrastructures and built-up areas) tool. A risk-based Vulnerability Assessment using IVAVIA helps cities identify geographical risk and vulnerability hotspots, understand the cause-effect relationships of climate change, and assess its demographic, economic and local impacts now and for the future. This helps identify entry-points for adaptation measures and areas where priority action is needed.

IVAVIA is designed for use by practitioners and managers responsible for a city’s overall risk-based Vulnerability Assessment projects and for climate change adaptation planning, as well as those responsible for project implementation. IVAVIA has been applied to the RESIN core city of Bilbao with regard to flooding. To help cities use IVAVIA, RESIN has produced a guideline document, the latest version of which was released in October 2017.

Maddalen Mendizabal of Tecnalia offered the cities suffering from floods and heat stress some suggestions for finding replicable case studies. The RESIN Adaptation Options Library draws together hundreds of relevant papers and study cases on the performance of climate change adaptation measures in a database covering measures relating to heat, pluvial, fluvial and coastal floods, and drought – among other things. The library provides information that can support prioritisation of measures and pathway design as part of an adaptation process. It can be used for benchmarking adaptation measures depending on their cost-efficiency and effectiveness; to better understand different types of adaptation measures; as part of Mayors Adapt reporting; for extracting relevant information to inspire the design and implementation of the measures, and it can also help cities identify further studies to consider.

Once complete, each of the tools will be hosted in an online decision support system called the e-Guide. The e-Guide will accompany and support cities throughout their adaptation processes, allows practitioners to save their progress and relevant documentation in one online space, and providing convenient access to content supporting this process, including the remaining three tools developed by RESIN. It is being designed for and by practitioners for practical use, to help them structure and inform their everyday adaptation planning work. As a flexible framework, practitioners in cities can adapt the tool to their own needs and apply it to their unique local context.

The e-Guide has been developed by RESIN partner TNO. As TNO researcher Albert Nieuwenhuijs noted during the event discussions, the next release will have a new functionality that is intended to help cities communicate and compare their adaptation progress with one another, with a view to finding peers with common problems or common solutions.

Getting to know the tools – and taking them forward

The Manchester event was a “dialogue” in the true sense of the word – with two-way exchange and learning encouraged throughout the day. After two rounds of discussion, the afternoon focused on practical encounters with the tools under development in the RESIN tools marketplace. Cities visited parallel stations where the tool developers addressed their questions, proposed useful applications for their unique contexts and demonstrated their use.

The next release of the RESIN tools will take place in March 2018.