Building resilient cities: from challenges to opportunities!
Last year, more than 130 representatives from 44 cities went to Finland to send a clear ‘Call for Action’ through the UNFCCC Talanoa dialogue on the need for a broader, faster and more ambitious response to achieve the Paris Climate agreement objectives. Now cities are taking measures into their own hands! Coming together to explore how to develop resilient cities, the EUROCITIES Environment Forum met in Genoa on 3-5 April 2019 with over 160 representatives from more than 50 cities.
On the first day, 12 EUROCITIES members Bologna, Genoa, Milan, Mannheim, Oslo, Porto, Rijeka, Strasbourg, Tampere, Tirana, Turin, and Verona formally committed to the Covenant of Mayors 2030 targets of at least 40% carbon emissions reduction by 2030 and adaptation to climate change. Marco Bucci, the Mayor of Genoa, welcomed representatives to the Signing Ceremony held at Palazzo Tursi where each of the 12 cities explained what it means to be committing to these ambitious 2030 targets, in line with the Paris Agreement and in pursuance of limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees. Please find our official press release here. All EEF cities are warmly encouraged to join the movement and sign the 2030 targets as well.
In addition, Genoa, Milan and Turin formally joined forces to sign the “Pact for a resilient city” committing to develop a joint resilience strategy across their territories. In this first, the cities will analyse their regions for vulnerabilities and possibilities for developing resilience against both man-made and natural shocks. This comes after the devasting collapse in 2018 of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa and the collaboration of these cities’ offices in the response.
In the following days, city representatives attending the forum had the opportunity to discover how Genoa is developing its resilience strategy and share their experiences in doing so. Cities highlighted that their main vulnerability to climate change relates to heat stress (the urban heat island effect) and storm water (for some, the water sewer systems were built at a time when storms were less intense). While nature-based solutions like green rooves are part of the solution, it was stressed that mapping green areas to collect data on what is needed in each area is vital. Cities also voiced the need for harmonised key performance indicators of urban adaptation to climate change. The European Commission stressed that cities must be consulted in the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) currently being developed by national governments, where national climate change adaptation planning and strategies must be reported every 2 years – cities should contact their national governments to ensure their needs are taken into account!
Through deep-dive sessions, participants further explored specific areas of developing city resilience strategies: assessing a city’s vulnerability to climate change, developing stakeholder partnerships, and ensuring wider community resilience. A few key examples coming out of these sessions were particularly interesting:
Antwerp Emergency Planning
Trying to fill the knowledge gap on new extreme weather conditions like increasing pluvial, river and coastal flooding as well as heat stress, Climate-Fit City elaborates European-wide climate services together with and for city actors. In the city of Antwerp, Climate-Fit City is currently developing an Emergency Planning Service delivering information on changes in the frequency of extreme rain storms and pluvial floods, quantified impacts on the disaster emergency planning and revised traffic routes depending on the inundated areas. It is supposed to be integrated into Antwerp’s disaster emergency planning system.
Genoa partnership in FLOOD-serv
The EU funded project FLOOD-serv aims to harness the power of people, data and ICT to provide a ‘pro-active’ and ‘citizen-centric’ public service application. By empowering local communities to get directly involved in the design of emergency services dealing with floods, the project hopes to raise awareness of flood risk and enable collective mitigation and response actions. Several pilot projects are underway in Italy, Slovakia, Spain, Romania and Portugal to connect various stakeholders in this knowledge-sharing and co-creating exercise (including citizens, local government, private sector companies, and civil society organisations).
Amsterdam has developed a project to increase resilience against extreme rainfall. Through an online platform, the city brings various stakeholders (citizens, gardeners, businesses, insurance companies, universities, and civil servants) together to share challenges, solutions and innovative initiatives to developing a rainproof city. The key to this project has been communication – keep it simple, keep it branded, keen it consistent!
Please see below some useful resources:
– Remember to use The Urban Adaptation Support Tool jointly developed by the Covenant of Mayors –Europe Office and the European Environment Agency. It takes you through all the steps needed to develop and implement an adaptation strategy and refers you to valuable guidance materials and tools.
Mark your diaries for upcoming events on climate adaptation:
– A Political training academy on climate adaptation will be organised by EUROCITIES in the framework of the Urban Agenda partnership on climate adaptation during the European Week of Regions and cities on 7-11 October 2019. This will be a short session delivered by an experience trainer on climate adaptation, designed specifically to raise politicians’ awareness. Information on the exact date and programme will follow.
– The Covenant of Mayors is holding a 2019 webinar series on climate adaptation: Find here the recording and takeaways of the webinar series #1 on Assessing Risks and vulnerabilities and stay tuned for the upcoming ones on:
designing adaptation strategies and action plans (Thursday, 13 June 2019, 11:00 – 12:30 CET)
monitoring and evaluation
financing adaptation actions
And finally, a big “great job!” to Malmo who travelled for more than 24 hours by land to attend the Genoa forum in order to keep their carbon emissions as low as possible. Another case of cities leading by example!
Please find the photo stream from the event here and the presentations given at our Forum here.