David Hirdman (Sweden) 1; Joanna Friberg (Sweden) 2
1 - Municipality of Lerum; 2 - Göteborg Region Association of Local Authorities
Despite the extensive need to adapt our society to current and future climate change, it is not a priority in many Swedish municipalities. A range of laws, regulations, action plans, strategies etc. have been issued at international, national and regional levels, but in Sweden practical implementation is largely relegated to municipalities. Each individual municipality is expected to solve a complex array of climate adaptation issues within their existing operations and budget. Key factors for enabling municipalities to translate the overarching strategies to local implementation are increased knowledge and organizational capacity, coordination, and management of conflicts of interest. In order to better meet these challenges, nine neighboring municipalities and the Gothenburg region have formed a regional climate adaptation network for municipal public servants.
The network format is a resource-efficient way to spread knowledge, tools and methods. It also provides a platform for exchanging experiences and building consensus among the municipalities. This reinforces the incentives to work on the issue through a common mobilization. A regional concentration of efforts, in conjunction with consensus among the municipalities, can in turn facilitate the prioritization of climate adaptation measures in the individual municipalities. A strength of this network is that it is initiated by public servants themselves, based on mutual needs.
The network is comprised of a heterogeneous group of municipal representatives, including climate adaptation strategists, municipal ecologists, environmental strategists, and community planners. Although located in different departments within each municipal administration, each has a responsibility in the municipal climate adaptation work. These different skills provide a wide range of approaches and experiences that the network can benefit from, through knowledge exchange and in the interpretation and operationalization of regional and national knowledge bases and strategies. The network also sees great opportunities for positive synergies through a common approach to processes such as procuring data, and also in addressing cross-border challenges such as water management in a river basin, infrastructure, or drinking water supply. The network believes that this method for cooperation in climate change adaptation efforts could be useful for fostering internal governance of climate change adaptation within municipalities in other parts of Europe. We welcome the opportunity to share our experiences so far.