Monitoring adaptation in cities: Considerations for equity and justice

14:00 Tuesday 28 May


Room S7


Reckien Diana (Netherlands) 1; Marta Olazabal (Spain) 2; Anil Markandya (Spain) 2; Johannes Klein (Finland) 3

1 - University of Twente; 2 - BC3 Research; 3 - Geologicial Survey of Finland

Cities are in the process of developing and implementing adaptation plans for their territories, with a limited amount of governance bodies also preparing to monitor the effects and impacts of adaptation plans and related actions. For example, Araos et al (2016) found that current local adaptation plans seldom include monitoring processes and indicators, which denotes both, a particular need to support cities in this regard and an opportunity that will ultimately impact equity and justice considerations of adaptation in cities. The process of adaptation is related to the anticipated reduction of vulnerabilities and risks, implying the incorporation of vulnerable groups into the adaptation planning process and the non-discriminatory outcome of adaptation solutions on these groups, i.e. fairness of the process and the outcomes of adaptation initiatives.

However, preliminary research has shown that justice considerations are seldom incorporated in adaptation initiatives or their monitoring schemes. This science session highlights these works by focussing on a) describing the state of the art of considering justice concerns in adaptation initiatives, b) identifying evidence on why considering equity and environmental justice criteria is important to include in tracking schemes and c) exploring solutions for how to integrate justice concerns more strongly into the planning and monitoring of local adaptation processes.

In this regard, specific questions that presentations will cover are:

  1. How are procedural and distributional justice concerns currently reported in local adaptation plans of cities around the globe and their monitoring schemes?,
  2. How are justice issues currently addressed in adaptation solutions?,
  3. What are necessary and appropriate governance, equity and justice indicators to be included in adaptation and adaptation monitoring in order to speak of successful, effective adaptation processes and solutions?

Target audience

This session is for adaptation researchers and practitioners working on monitoring of adaptation plans and actions or on justice considerations in adaptation planning, and respective staff (planners and policy makers) in local administrations responsible for adaptation planning, actions, and monitoring. This session will collect current scientific evidence of justice considerations in local adaptation plans, and discuss suitable indicators to be included in adaptation processes and monitoring programs. This knowledge will be of utmost relevance for adaptation planners and practitioners in order to ensure that adaptation processes lead to just adaptation solutions.

Proposed format for the session

This is a science session that will enhance engagement and learning between science and practice including relevant connections with policy and society. The session is divided in 4 parts:

1) We start with a 5 min. summary of the science of equity and justice in adaptation, to then 2) let four speakers shortly (4*10 min.) present their findings to the main question of this session: ‘What are necessary and appropriate justice indicators to be included in (the monitoring of) adaptation in order to speak of just adaptation solutions?’ We will then 3) go into a speed-dating exercise (30 min.) where groups of 2 people will discuss their views on equity and justice indicators for adaptation (3 minutes each) and then present the outcome as a written output on paper (potentially a paragraph or a bullet point list or few sentences) (5 minutes). This will be collected for 4) a short discussion and comparison among all participants. The written output will form the basis of a contribution to a scientific paper that discusses these results in the light of indicators of adaptation and adaptation monitoring as found in local adaptation plans in EU-28 cities at present (see presentation 1).

Contributing Authors abstracts

1. Diana Reckien (University of Twente)

Equity considerations in European local climate change adaptation plans: Preparing and implementing Local Climate Plans (LCPs) is one way to address climate change adaptation at the local level. About a third of European cities have developed adaptation LCPs, and a few cities are in the process of monitoring the effect/impact of their actions or developing monitoring schemes. This presentation will highlight the results of reviewing the state of LCPs and its justice implications in 885 European Urban Audit Core Cities in the EU-28 since 2013; a review undertaken together with 30 researchers from across Europe. The resulting comprehensive database of LCPs and their content allows insights into procedural and distributional justice considerations of LCPs, and applied evaluation measures and procedures, including consideration of the impact of adaptation on vulnerable groups. The most recent update, i.e. analysis of the content of adaptation LCPs undertaken in the first half of 2019, will also allow to report on best practice solutions of how to increase justice considerations in local climate planning. Diana Reckien has led the assessment of ‘Equity and Environmental Justice and Urban Climate Change’ for the ‘Second Assessment Report of Climate Change in Cities’, which forms a basis for this research, and is Coordinating Lead Author (WGII) for the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report.

2. Marta Olazabal, Elisa Sainz de Murieta, Maria Ruiz de Gopegui ) Basque Centre for Climate Change) Kayin Venner (UNESCO)

Considering the uncertainty of climate change implies understanding the probability of future climate change (extreme) events and allows reconsidering by when and how adaptation measures should be put in place. However, not all cities have the resources and the advocacy to develop and implement adaptation measures WHEN, WHERE and HOW it should be required in order to timely and effectively reduce future vulnerabilities and increase their capacity to adapt.  This presentation shows evidence on the need to take into account risks and uncertainty to explore equity and justice implications of (un)planned adaptation initiatives. We use a set of European coastal cities and compare their adaptation policy progress with risk profiles of each city. Risk profiles help to include uncertainty in decision-making as they include information about probability of events, economic damages and temporality, defining two measures related to low-probability high-damage events for each city. We contrast this info with the contents and risk considerations for each plan and with socio-economic data. Results point out future potential equity issues related to adaptation: will European cities be prepared in time? Are there equity implications in their progress?

3. Ambika Markanday, Elisa Sainz de Murieta, Ibon Galarraga (Basque Centre for Climate Change)

Including equity considerations in Cost Benefit Analysis for adaptation to climate change: A case study for Bilbao: This paper highlights some of the limitations of the cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in adaptation decision-making, specifically focusing on why and how equity and distributional issues, employment effects or risk aversion could be considered in the analysis. For a number of reasons, and especially for the sake of simplicity, these elements are typically ignored in traditional CBA. The paper shows how these could be considered and effectively included in the analysis. An investment for adaptation in Bilbao is used to illustrate the method showing that the outcome of the CBA varies significantly when equity considerations„ such as whether poorer or richer populations are to be affected„ are taken into account. Results show that the net present value as well as the internal rate of return of an investment project improves considerably when these considerations are included. We conclude that, in some cases, if these elements are not accounted for, potential adaptation investments could be disregarded.

4. Johannes Klein (Geological Survey of Finland), Malcolm Araos, Aasa Karimo, Milja Heikkinen,Tuomas Ylä-Anttila, Sirkku Juhola

How cities involve citizens and the private sector in urban climate change adaptation – a global assessment of large cities: Despite the recognition of citizens and the private sector as important contributors to local climate change adaptation, cities have focused so far on adaptation within their own organisations. This is the result of our recent study analysing adaptation initiatives of 402 large cities around the world. When municipalities reach out to other actors, they use different modes of governance depending on who is addressed. They address the private sector more actively than citizens. The private sector is often involved in partnerships and participatory processes. Citizens are less often addressed and are mostly only the recipients of adaptation-relevant information. This has potential impacts on the justice and fairness of adaptation. Whereas the private sector can influence the planning and design of adaptation initiatives, citizens have to rely on their own capacities to successfully adapt to climate change based on the available information. Currently, case study research can provide some insight into potential consequences of different levels of involvement of citizens and the private sector. There is a need for more research to better understand the reasoning behind the modes of governance and its consequences.