Climate-proof cities Working Group

Climate-proof cities Working Group

Climate change will cause multiple effects. Trends are expected to continue, although there is still substantial uncertainty about the rate of climate change itself and its possible impacts. The adoption of long-term adaptation strategies and targeted policy agenda are key to mitigating the effects of climate change.

The objective of the working group is to bring together environment & spatial planning specialists to exchange experience on urban climate change vulnerability and resilience and to share their ideas to contribute to adaptation strategies and policies

Urban areas are having to deal with increasing challenges from heavy rainfall, drought due to extreme dry periods, heat stress during heat waves, health problems due to air pollution smog episodes, and water flooding due to sea level rise and/or increased river discharges. Moreover, due to their dense populations, urban areas are vulnerable to increased health risks related to allergies from pollen exposure and to infectious diseases transmitted by vectors or through exposure of (polluted) recreation water.

The climate resilience of urban areas can be increased through spatial and non-spatial adaptation measures. Especially during urban restructuring and development of new urban areas. Adaptation measures are essential and could include increasing the area and attractiveness of ‘green’ (nature, parks, trees) and ‘blue’ (water) in and near cities (increasing the water storage capacity and reducing the heat stress), energy-saving buildings and new sustainable energy technologies, such as solar cells or thermal energy storage. Recent studies have shown that the additional costs of energy-saving buildings and using sustainable energy can be recovered within 10 to 15 years.

Cities therefore face many challenges to develop a climate-proof spatial strategy. Climate-proofing is therefore a factor of importance in the decision-making process around urban restructuring and development. Choices to be made in the years and decades to come will inevitably influence the future vulnerability of many urban areas. The working group is also interested in information on the key EU policies and developments.  In particular, the European Commission is active in this field through DG CLIMA’s financing of adaptation, the DG ENERGY Smart Cities and Communities Innovation Partnership, the Climate Knowledge and Innovation Partnership, the Covenant of Mayors and DG ENVIRONMENT’s LIFE programme priority for Climate Change & Energy which are of interest to professionals at the local level.  Finally, the earmarking of up to 20% of the new generation of Structural and Cohesion funds budget (325 billion for 2014-2020) on climate related priorities and adaptation strategies is of particular interest for the group.

Chair: Leendert Van Bree (VVM Netherlands)