Insights from testing a Dynamic Adaptive Policy Pathways approach for spatial planning at the municipal level

09:00 Thursday 30 May

SS037 • OC222

Room S2


Christoffer Carstens (Sweden) 1; Karin Mossberg Sonnek (Sweden) 2; Riitta Räty (Sweden) 2; Annika Carlsson-Kanyama (Sweden) 3; Per Wikman Svahn (Sweden) 3

1 - County Administrative Board Gävleborg; 2 - FOI; 3 - Royal Institute of Technology

Uncertainties in climate projections poses numerous challenges for decision makers at all levels of governance. The method Dynamic Adaptive Policy Pathways (DAPP) has been proposed as a way to handle large uncertainties by exploration of scenario pathways, with specific, vulnerability-based thresholds, that trigger a switch from one pre-defined adaptation measure to another. In this way, planners may investigate static solutions, that are adopted early, or adaptive measures, that may be activated later, as options, when circumstances require.

As most examples of DAPP implementation come from large-scale infrastructure projects, the prospects of implementing these methods at a local, municipal, level has been largely untested. In this study, we present a simplified version of a DAPP approach, with the purpose of testing DAPP at smaller organizations and projects. The tool was tested in three different Swedish municipalities, for use in spatial planning situations and in relation to uncertainties in future sea level rise. The test was performed as an experimental case study, where the tool was tested within a present, ongoing planning project in each municipality, during three work-shops in each of the three cases. The municipal projects spanned from a small-scale detailed plan to comprehensive plans. The tool was standardized and similarly tested in each of the three cases, providing possibilities for replication.

Results from the tests indicate that end-users found it is relatively easy to identify specific objects and vulnerability-based thresholds for adaptive actions. Working actively with uncertainties and exploring them in future scenarios promoted discussions and insights on uncertainties, climate services and alternative adaptation strategies. However, users found it more challenging to develop and implement dynamic pathways. Instead, static adaptation measures were preferred options in all cases, despite the fact that the tool itself promotes the use of dynamic pathways and that several dynamic pathways where produced. Based on our results we propose that perceived legal obstacles or the personal preferences of planners towards more static options contributed strongly to these results, which points to areas of research that can help improve the uptake of more flexible planning approaches for climate change.