Climate change adaptation strategies for cities in 5 steps 🏃

Climate adaptation for your city is becoming more relevant.☀️💧 Ever wondered how you can get started? We have your back with this article! 🌳

Antonio Arce Romero
Climate Action Specialist
February 5, 2020

Do you feel that your city should start working on climate change adaptation strategies? Great, you're not the only one. In the past, adaptation seemed so far away and high-level... But nowadays your city needs to take action. Are you wondering how your city can make the most out of it? Keep yourself dry and cool, and let us guide you through this 5-step journey.

climate change adaptation strategies for your city

☀️ Climate change adaptation strategies in a nutshell

While climate mitigation seeks to decrease emissions, adaptation aims to take action on the unavoidable climatic changes. Adaptation to climate change is the process of adjusting your city to current or future climate impacts. This process will moderate harm or even exploit beneficial opportunities.

Adapting to climate change requires you to answer three key questions:

1) who is at stake?

2) what is the threat or opportunity?

3) what can you do about it?

As you may guess, adaptation is a dynamic process that includes different actors, contexts, and places.

☂️ Climate change adaptation strategies might seem complicated and difficult. But no worries, it is more intuitive than you think. You’re adapting every day already. When you look at the weather forecast and choose your clothing accordingly or when you water your plants twice as much during hot days. Simple, right? Do you think you can use the same principles for your city?

🏃 Journey toward an adapted city

Whether your city is new at climate change adaptation strategies or you already have some adaptation experience, this checklist of 5 points will make sure you are ready to go:

🗓️ Prepare the ground for adaptation

  • The first step is gathering the commitment to adapt to your city. Don't be afraid to point out the elephant in the room and talk to your colleagues and citizens about the need to work together on this.
  • Make sure you speak the same language. Show the importance of adaptation to your colleagues, companies, and citizens in a way they understand. Adaptation means securing profit for companies, fewer risks for citizens, more liveable cities. Here are some tips for speaking to citizens, companies, or decision-makers.
  • You’re not alone in the process. Many other cities like yours are also seeking to adapt. Fortunately, there are channels where you can ask how other cities tackled this (like the online community of FutureproofedCities).

💪 Explore your vulnerabilities and your strengths

  • Your location matters. Whether your city is vulnerable to sea-level rise, heatwaves or storms depends on where you are. Your regional or national government has most likely conducted studies of vulnerability. Check them out!
  • Children and elderly first. Your budget is limited, right? Prioritize the most vulnerable groups and places in your city.
  • Assess your resources and strengths. Your city might have powerful allies already: many parks, a lot of citizen support, strong industry... Everything counts.

👀 Look at what's out there

  • Creative solutions can hack the problem. By using already existing resources in innovative ways, you could adapt at a lower cost. Like this one, addressing flood risks in a rural area.
  • There's no need to re-invent the wheel. There are many useful adaptation measures you can get inspired from: e.g., the EU Climate-ADAPT site, the Oppla platform, or the FutureproofedCities definitive list of actions.
  • Privilege nature-based solutions. Nature is often an easy and affordable measure for climate change adaptation strategies. Additionally, it can bring many other benefits to your citizens!
Photographer: Scott Webb | Source: Unsplash

🏃Take action!

  • Time to take action! Start with small but concrete actions: climate-proof the museum of your city, organize an info session with schools and elderly homes... Remember, one step at a time.
  • Assign concrete roles and time to your actions. Everything boils down to who is doing what and when. This will help you keep an overview and learn from the process.
  • There are innovative ways to finance climate adaptations. In case you're stuck with money, check some innovative financing schemes that will give you the last push.

💡Keep on learning and sharing

  • Monitoring your progress is very important. Do a periodical check of the progress of your plan. How are you doing? What's stuck? (Tip: in FutureproofedCities, you can easily monitor your entire climate change adaptation strategies).
  • Choose suitable indicators to monitor. Some easy figures will give you insights on how your city is doing: % of green, change in % of vulnerable population, less money spent on heat-related illnesses, etc.
  • Sharing is caring. Communicate the progress of your adaptation measures with your citizens and companies. Everybody plays a role in adapting the city!
Colors of Istanbul

☀️ In FutureproofedCities, cities can develop, collaborate, monitor, and communicate their climate change adaptation strategies. Find out which adaptation measures are easy to implement in your city’s climate plan with the help of our standard list.  


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