Discussing Climate Resilience - from a concept to action in our cities

Climate change impacts cities everywhere. The blazing wildfires, heavy rains that cause large-scale flooding and fluctuating temperatures are some examples of the climate-related risks that need to be anticipated and prepared for in order to reduce their impact on our cities.  As most of the cities of UBC are located in the somewhat close vicinity of the Baltic Sea or a lake/river, the issues regarding sea level rise and flooding are of uttermost importance. Our cities need to become more resilient to climate change to continue being lively hubs for the residents today and in the future. Climate resilience as a concept stands for the “ability to anticipate, prepare for and respond to hazardous events, trends or disturbances related to climate”*.

To take steps to cope with the climate risks, cities have done resilience planning by creating a resilience strategy as a standalone guideline that takes into account the impacts of climate change in building codes, change transit routes, upgrades roads and neighbourhood cohesion. Sometimes, the resilience strategy is integrated into masterplans or other strategic documents like hazard mitigation plans. It is good to keep in mind that the resilience strategy has to be implemented holistically to have the anticipatory impact. It is not a new concept, as it is an ongoing endeavour to connect city functions and resources in ways that would benefit all stakeholders as well as the environment both today and in the future. When it comes to cooperation and partnerships toward climate resilience in cities, our cooperation with CDP hopefully has an impact on increasing climate resilience through emphasizing the importance of environmental data disclosure and sharing challenges as well as related good practices.

New project to take up the challenge

UBC Sustainable Cities Commission Secretariat has a brand new project on climate resilience to prepare cities’ preparedness toward climate-related disasters – CASCADE. CASCADE – Community Safety Action for Supporting Climate Adaptation and Development – targets the need to develop risk assessment methodologies focusing on climate change risks, tailor-made for the local level, and specifically for the Baltic Sea Region. This methodology will be used in a training course for city officials, responsible for civil protection. If successful, the training can be replicated by all BSR countries. CASCADE also strives for initiating a region-wide policy dialogue on the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction as an effective platform for cross-sectorial cooperation between different levels of governance and for greater policy coherence on climate risk assessments.

As one key objective in CASCADE is to connect climate change professionals with civil protection experts, the working group behind the project consists of both quarters from several countries in the Baltic Sea Region. UBC Sustainable Cities Commission Secretariat will root the project on the local level, while the Main School of Fire Service (SGSP) in Warsaw and the Stockholm Environment Institute, Tallinn Centre (SEIT) will add the research dimension to the consortium. The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), Hamburg Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS), and Frederiksborg Fire and Rescue Service will support the project with strategic and practical knowledge on civil protection. The CBSS Secretariat, representing the intergovernmental perspective, will contribute with insights both in civil security and climate issues in the region.

*Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions. Climate Solutions. Resilience Solutions. Climate Resilience Portal. https://www.c2es.org/content/climate-resilience-overview/ <accessed 1.12.2018>