Capacity Building in the Field of Climate Change Adaptation

photo_kerli_shortcourseKerli Kirsimaa shares her learning experience on climate adaptation, at Climate-KIC short course held in Frankfurt, Germany.


Several participants from Italy, Finland, England, Estonia, Slovenia and Germany, came together, in order to exchange their professional experiences regarding the topic of climate change adaptation in their countries. Particularly, to discuss the opportunities and challenges which one may face or is currently facing on their local level climate change adaptation processes.

The aim of the course was to address and understand the system relations of the climate change adaptation process in each country. There were range of topics that were discussed covering different aspects of climate change: 

  • What type of capacities are present ?
  • Who will be taking the responsibility?
  • Which tools should be used for awareness rising and communication?
  • Who should we communicate, how could activities be institutionalised?
  • What are the common challenges that each country faces in order to make the adaptation pathway more successful?

Adaptation strategies at city level and its relevance to capacity building

During the short course, 3 existing examples were presented, such as strategy of the city of Bologna (Italy), city of Solingen (Germany) and city of Stuttgart (Germany). Each of them differs in terms of location, actual context and motivation behind drawing up their strategy. For instance, the city of Stuttgart has the City Climatology Department running since 1938 (mainly due to its vulnerable location between valleys), whilst the city of Bologna in Italy just finalised its first draft plan earlier this year. Yet, common challenges between different local municipalities could be identified. These were:

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  • Knowledge base has been built with plethora of useful information, yet it is not applicable due to ambitious results and lack of resources
  • Find channels for further awareness rising
  • Classify who is capable to use the information provided
  • Identify who should take the responsibility on administrative level
  • Tackle the lack of long-term education on climate change in general 

All the above listed common challenges were analysed more in detail in order to propose the best possible solutions. What we learnt in turn during the discussions is that in every successful climate change adaptation process, capacity building plays a key role. The four types of capacities were hence defined during the course, such as 

  • Capacity of adaptation resources (finance)
  • Capacity of adaptation structures (defining responsibility)
  • Capacity of adaptation competences (measures and instruments for enabling responsible people)
  • Capacity for the willingness to adapt (poorly developed at political level, changing to top-down?)

Raising awareness on climate change adaptation 

When it comes to responsibility, it was agreed that it should be shared. Best practices show that creating or having a chamber of board members from each department of the local authority could help in addressing the issue on an administrative level.

High prominence lies on the smart tools, such as mobile apps, media, maps, workshops, courses, which should be identified and more widely used in order to raise awareness. What was highlighted throughout the course was the importance of cost-benefit analysis which could be used more often in order to solve the issue as it is a direct way of making people (both ordinary people and politicians) aware how much money they may loose when not undertaking certain actions. Local level impacts must be made more clear and concrete. 

It can be concluded that the regions most vulnerable to natural disasters think about their risks they might face more carefully, and start their adaptation plans faster than the less vulnerable regions. As Dr. Ulrich Reuter from the city of Stuttgart stated: “You can’t wait until you know everything!“ The earlier we think about it, the better.

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