Category: Cities

Two-day workshop explores cost benefit analysis for climate change adaptation for sustainable flood management in cities

Two-day workshop explores cost benefit analysis for climate change adaptation for sustainable flood management in cities

A two-day training course from the 9th to 10th of May will provide city planners in Hungary with a better understanding of how to use Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) for climate change adaptation.

Through a series of plenary presentations and practical group exercises, the training will emphasise practical experiences and knowledge creation in relation to CBA impact assessment, economic valuation, damage cost assessment, adaptation costs and implementation and finance in a local and international context. The course is run in combination with an online learning course.

The specific course objectives include:

  • Understanding the different concepts and factors determining the risks from extreme climate events
  • Understand the data requirements in urban flood modelling and how to apply these in climate risk assessments
  • Understanding the basic terms of CBA and knowing each step required in conducting a CBA
  • Using a CBA tool to conduct a simple CBA
  • Grasping what instruments are available to raise revenues locally and internationally for urban adaptation, and identifying challenges faced by city planners in financing urban adaptation.

Through this course, city planners in Hungary will be in a better position to build resilience to flooding and more broadly climate change.

The course is organised by the Technical University of Denmark in collaboration with Climate-KIC, Acclimatise, Pannon Pro Innovation Services, the National University of Public Service and the Association of Climate-Friendly Municipalities.   

Key experts include Lisa Bay, Kirsten Halsnaes, Per S. Kaspersen, Max Steinhausen, Michel Wortmann, and our very own Virginie Fayolle who will be presenting and facilitating a panel discussion around the challenges and opportunities for cities to finance urban resilience.

For more information download the information pack below.


Cover photo by Jim Gade on Unsplash.
New York City launches updated climate resilience design guidelines

New York City launches updated climate resilience design guidelines

By Will Bugler

In April 2019, New York City released new and updated Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines that apply to all city capital projects, with the exception of coastal protection projects. The guidelines direct planners, engineers, architects, and others involved in project delivery on how to use regionally-specific future climate projections in the design of city facilities.

The guidelines are designed to be used throughout all stages of the project design process, starting with the initiation of capital planning and through final design. They provide step-by-step instructions on how to supplement historic climate data with specific, regional, forward-looking climate change data in the design of City facilities. The guidelines aim to ensure that resilient design becomes an integral part of the project planning process for City agencies and designers.

The Guidelines are an effort to incorporate forward-looking climate change data in the design of all City capital projects. Existing codes and standards already incorporate historic weather data to determine how to design for today’s conditions. However, with climate change the past is no longer a good guide to the robust design standards that will be required in the future. The guidelines therefore incorporate the work of the New York Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), which provides city-level climate projections.

Developed by the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resilience (ORR), the Guidelines encourage resilience approaches to infrastructure development in the city. A successful resilience strategy, the guidelines say, is one that “provides co-beneficial outcomes, reduces costs over the life of the asset wherever possible, and avoids negative indirect impacts to other systems.”

Instead the guidelines encourage infrastructure projects to take an integrated approach from planning to implementation, ensuring that they are a cohesive part of exiting processes that address goals defined by the City. The guidelines suggest that this is best achieved by:

  1. integrating “soft” resiliency strategies (operational measures or investments in green infrastructure) and “hard” resiliency strategies (built or intensive investments);
  2. addressing multiple climate hazards with single interventions; and
  3. reducing climate change risk in concert with other goals (e.g., energy efficiency or reduction in greenhouse gas emissions).

A copy of the NYC Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines can be downloaded here.

Photo by Namphuong Van on Unsplash

New York’s poor and ethnic minority neighbourhoods to be hit hardest by climate change finds NYC Panel on Climate Change

New York’s poor and ethnic minority neighbourhoods to be hit hardest by climate change finds NYC Panel on Climate Change

By Will Bugler

The New York City Panel on Climate Change (NYCPCC), released last month, its 2019 report on the science of climate change and its implications for New York City. The report finds that climate change is affecting everyday life in New York today, and that climate impacts will continue to increase over the coming decades, hitting the poorest neighbourhoods hardest.

The NYCPCC, which has been helping NYC prepare for climate change since 2008, found that extreme weather events are becoming more pronounced, high temperatures in summer are rising, and heavy downpours are increasing. The report finds that areas with lower incomes and the highest percentages of African American and Hispanic residents are consistently more likely to suffer the impacts of climate change. The panel advises that community engagement is critical for more effective and flexible adaptation efforts in the most at-risk communities.

The report serves as a “further wakeup call on the need to move urgently and take action on climate change” according to New York’s mayor Bill de Blasio. “This [report] shows what New Yorkers learned acutely during Sandy – climate change is real and an existential threat,” he said.

Records show that maximum daily summer temperatures have been rising at rates of 0.5°F per decade at JFK Airport and 0.7°F per decade at LaGuardia Airport since 1970. Sea level recorded at The Battery in lower Manhattan continues to rise at a rate of 0.11 inches per year since 1850. These changes are broadly in line with the climate change projections made by the NPCC in 2015.

The report also emphasises that climate change is already affecting the daily life of NYC residents, especially for those who live in coastal communities where nuisance flooding is becoming more frequent and for those who operate and use the city’s critical infrastructure during heatwaves and heavy downpours. Economic losses from hurricanes and floods have significantly increased in past decades and are likely to increase further in the future from more intense hurricanes and higher sea level rise.

“Recent scientific advances have allowed the NPCC to better detail climate vulnerabilities in the city, such as where nuisance floods might occur more frequently,” says William Solecki, co-chair of the NPCC. “This improved knowledge has, in turn, helped the panel craft new sets of tools and methods, such as a prototype system for tracking these risks and the effectiveness of corresponding climate strategies.”

One of those tools is the Antarctic Rapid Ice Melt Scenario, which the NPCC created to model the effects of melting ice sheets on sea level rise around NYC. The model predicts that under a high-end scenario, monthly tidal flooding will begin to affect many neighbourhoods around Jamaica Bay by the 2050s and other coastal areas throughout the city by the 2080s.

“The NPCC 2019 report tracks increasing risks for the city and region due to climate change,” says Cynthia Rosenzweig, co-chair of the NPCC and senior research scientist at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “This report, the third by the NPCC in ten years, continues to lay the science foundation for development of flexible adaptation pathways for changing climate conditions.”

To help manage the dynamic climate and public policy contexts, the NPCC 2019 report recommends that the city put in place a coordinated indicator and monitoring system to enable the city and its communities to better monitor climate change trends, impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation measures. The report also notes that property insurance can be a catalyst for infrastructure resilience by encouraging investment in adaptation measures prior to a disaster through a reduction in premiums.

Other NPCC recommendations include:

  • continuing broad assessments of climate change across the metropolitan region with federal, state, and regional partners (for example, NOAA’s Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast);
  • using updated methods for the next set of NPCC climate change projections; and
  • hosting a NYC Climate Summit once during every mayoral term.

Photo by Tommaso Ripani on Unsplash

Southward shift faces US climate by 2100

Southward shift faces US climate by 2100

By Tim Radford

Climate change means a big shift for city dwellers worldwide. Americans can look ahead to very different cities as the US climate heads south.

If the world continues to burn ever-increasing levels of fossil fuels, then life will change predictably for millions of American city dwellers as the US climate heats up. They will find conditions that will make it seem as if they have shifted south by as much as 850 kilometres.

New Yorkers will find themselves experiencing temperature and rainfall conditions appropriate to a small town in Arkansas. People from Los Angeles will discover what it is like to live, right now, on the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula, Mexico. People in Abilene, Texas will find that it is as if they had crossed their own frontier, deep into Salinas, Mexico.

The lawmakers in Washington will have consigned themselves to conditions appropriate to Greenwood, Mississippi. Columbus, Ohio, will enjoy the climate of Jonesboro, Arkansas. Folk of Anchorage, Alaska, will find out what it feels like to live on Vancouver Sound. People of Vancouver, meanwhile, will feel as if they had crossed the border into Seattle, Washington.

This exercise in precision forecasting, published in the journal Nature Communications, has been tested in computer simulations for approximately 250 million US and Canadian citizens in 540 cities.

That is, around three quarters of all the population of the United States, and half of all Canadians, can now check the rainfall and temperature changes they can expect in one human lifetime, somewhere between 2070 and 2099.

There are a number of possible climate shifts, depending on whether or not 195 nations fulfil the vow made in Paris in 2015 to work to keep the average rise in global temperatures to “well below” 2°C by 2100.

In fact, President Trump has announced a US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, and many of the nations that stand by the promise have yet to commit to convincing action.

So researchers continue to incorporate the notorious “business-as-usual” scenario in their simulations. So far, these have already predicted a sweltering future for many US cities, with devastating consequences for electrical power supplies and ever more destructive superstorms, megadroughts and floods, with huge economic costs for American government, business and taxpayers.

And, other researchers have found, climate change may already be at work: there is evidence that the division between the more arid American West and the more fertile eastern states has begun to shift significantly.

Long trip south

So the latest research could prove another way of bringing home to US citizens some of the challenges ahead.

“Under current high emissions, the average urban dweller is going to have to drive more than 500 miles (850 kms) to the south to find a climate like that expected in their home city by 2080. Not only is climate changing, but climates that don’t presently exist in North America will be prevalent in a lot of urban areas,” said Matt Fitzpatrick, of the University of Maryland, who led the study.

“Within the lifetime of children living today, the climate of many regions is projected to change from the familiar to conditions unlike those experienced in the same place by their parents, grandparents or perhaps any generation in millennia,” he said.

“It is my hope that people have that ‘wow’ moment, and it sinks in for the first time the scale of the changes we’re expecting in a single generation.”


This article was originally published on Climate News Network.Tim Radford, a founding editor of Climate News Network, worked for The Guardian for 32 years, for most of that time as science editor. He has been covering climate change since 1988.

Cover photo by Kyaw Tun on Unsplash.
Toward a flood-resilient Kolkata

Toward a flood-resilient Kolkata

By Elisa Jiménez Alonso

Kolkata’s flood forecasting and early warning system (FFEWS), supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), will be India’s first comprehensive city-level early warning system. Designed to provide forecasts and real-time updates using sensors installed in key points throughout the city, the system will enable informed decision making before and during disasters.

How the FFEWS works. Source: ADB.

The system includes a series of complementary components: weather forecasts; flood models for various intensities of rainfall; real-time information on key pump status, sump and canal water levels, actual rainfall, inundation levels, among others; and a messaging system to provide warnings and real-time information to city officials and citizens. The FFEWS will enable flood-informed urban planning, improve the flood awareness and safety of Kolkata’s communities, reduce economic losses and flood-impacts on livelihoods, and reduce the impacts of flood-induced traffic jams.

The system was designed with the people of Kolkata at its centre and aims to empower them so they can act quickly and appropriately to reduce flood risks. During the design phase key stakeholders were consulted to identify the best places for monitoring. Consultation with citizens and borough engineers helped identify locations for real-time data collection on rainfall and flood risk.

Since 2000, phased investments carried out through ADB-supported projects have already helped reduce Kolkata’s flooding problems by about 4,800 hectares, planned projects are expected to provide a further reduction of roughly 6,000 hectares. The projects are enabling the city to systematically expand the sewerage and drainage network in Kolkata, including flood-prone areas; increasing sewage treatment capacity; improving water supply through reductions in non-revenue water; managing solid waste; and increasing operational efficiencies and building capacity to better sustain the services it provides.

Download the full publication and learn more about the key features and benefits by clicking here.

Online course: Cost benefit analysis for urban climate change adaptation

Online course: Cost benefit analysis for urban climate change adaptation

EIT Climate KIC in partnership with Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Acclimatise, and Pannon Pro Innovations (PPIS) are offering a three-part online course about Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) for climate change adaptation in cities. Acclimatise led the development of the financial aspects of the course.

Urban areas are expected to become even more exposed and vulnerable to climate change impacts such as flooding in the future. Adapting to these impacts is important to protect city dweller, but cost-effective planning of adaptation strategies is very complicated. CBA is a method that can help decision-makers evaluate adaptation projects and strengthen the basis for making sound investment decisions.

Part 1 of the course explains what CBA is and how it applies to urban flooding and climate change adaptation. If you are a local government or city official, this will help you identify whether it can be used for your adaptation project.

In part 2, participants learn a robust, step-by-step approach – along with a CBA Climate Adaptation Tool and case-study – to help them assess the costs and benefits for their own city’s adaptation projects.

Part 3 of the online course demonstrates how to carry out a CBA using the CBA Climate Adaptation Tool. If you are a local government or city official, this will help you discover the financial value of your own adaptation project and use this to secure the investment you need.

7-step CBA process. Source: Climate-KIC

Create your profile on Climate-KIC Education to enroll in this online course and discover many more free learning opportunities.

Face-to-face trainings are under development and will be rolled out in Spring 2019. Stay tuned!


Cover photo by 贝莉儿 NG on Unsplash.

This New Climate – Episode 4: The Blue Green Dream

This New Climate – Episode 4: The Blue Green Dream

In the fifth episode of This New Climate, host Will Bugler takes a look at how cities can better prepare for climate change. Cities are concentrated centres of climate risk with large populations, high levels of economic activity and expensive cost of properties. But they are also home to over half the world’s population. This episode explores how the development of nature-based solutions can make cities better able to cope with climate impacts like extreme heat and flooding.

Episode guests: NHS Nurse Claire Herne, Cedo Maksimovic from Imperial College London, Tim Van Hattum from Wageningen University, Teodoro Georgiadis from IBIMET, Frans Van De Ven from Deltares, and Anjali Jaiswal from NRDC India.

This New Climate is an Acclimatise production.

Blue Green Solutions is an EIT Climate-KIC supported innovation initiative.

Downloads: Blue Green Solutions – The Guide

Further information:

Heavy rains and blocked drains: Nairobi’s recipe for floods

Heavy rains and blocked drains: Nairobi’s recipe for floods

By Sophie Mbugua, Climate Home News

Dirty flood waters, impassable roads and submerged slums have become the norm every time it rains in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city.

In August, the authorities took drastic action, bulldozing around 2,000 buildings in the flood plain, including shopping malls worth millions of dollars. After a lull, they are due to resume demolitions this month, national media reports.

The ongoing October-December rainy season is on track to bring – mercifully – average volumes of water. Yet the city’s flood risk is rising, as climate change brings more extremes of rainfall. Experts tell Climate Home News better waste management, urban planning and warning systems are needed to protect its growing population.

Numerous informal and formal settlements without adequate sewerage and sanitation services edge onto the three Nairobi Rivers: Mathare, Ngong and Nairobi.

At Hazina village, one of 22 villages in south B division along the Ngong, the river chokes with refuse, making the water hardly visible.

“It’s the village’s dumping site,” Anne Keli, a 46-year-old mother of 12 tells Climate Home News. She has lived in the village for two decades and says flooding has been particularly bad in the past two years.

“The water reaches the village at a high force compared to previous years but gets stuck due to the plastics, paper bags and assorted waste in the river, blocking its flow,” Keli says. “Since we are on a lower area, the run-off from higher areas headed to the river has no place to go as the river is full. So, where else does it go? Into our houses.”

During the long rains in April, Keli’s family left their flooded home and camped in the county commissioner’s grounds. She lost around 30,000 Kenyan shillings ($290) worth of goods from the shop she runs less than a kilometre from the river.

The provincial administration made some efforts to clean the river during the flooding, but as soon as the rainy season ended it clogged up again, Keli says. “People keep building close to the river, reducing its size by day. People are asked to remove the structures with every flood but after the rains, everything moves back to normal.”

Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) has installed more than 72 monitoring stations across the country in a bid to provide more timely and precise information.

Brian Chunguli, a county disaster management official, says a UK-funded programme will allow them to monitor live flooding levels from satellites and alert residents as waters rise.

“We hope to respond before flooding happens, and collected data will inform the disaster policy and interventions as we will compare long term data showing at what rainfall levels has certain areas flooded,” explains Chunguli.

Long-term projections of East African rainfall vary, with most climate models predicting heavier inundations as temperatures rise.

Mary Kilavi, the Nairobi County director of meteorological services, is mapping the areas likely to flood in Nairobi given a specific amount of rainfall. South B and South C on the Ngong river are hotspots, along with Mathare by the Nairobi river.

“We are using a model that simulates surface water flooding using previous city flooding data corrected over time,” she explains. “We want to find out with a specific amount of rainfall, which areas will flood.”

This will help the authorities to move beyond a reactive approach to systematic preparation, she says. “Since weather is given in probabilistic terms, systems don’t act fast. We will establish the probability of achieving the estimated flood causing rainfall, then with stakeholders, agree at what point to act, the actions to take and funds to be set aside for the actions.”

The solutions range from cleaning up waste to creating green urban spaces and changing land management upriver. Many of these face political, as well as practical, obstacles.

There is a directive against building within 30 metres of the riverside, for example, but it is haphazardly enforced. Many owners of the recently demolished structures insisted they had permits to build there.

“It requires funds and land to relocate and rebuild the structures amid political interference, as area politicians incite the residents not to move,” says Barre Ahmed, assistant county commissioner for Starehe sub county.

Dr Lawrence Esho, chair of the Kenya Institute of Planners, calls for a drainage master plan to cover the entire metropolitan area.

“We have a flooding crisis but the issue is bigger than the illegal buildings. It is more of the uphill destruction of land which we are doing nothing about, too much concrete pavements aggregating the run off flow, blocked drains and climate change,” says Esho. “Over the last 20 to 25 years the city has also gone through the change from bungalows built over a huge area to high-rise apartment blocks… without a drainage city master plan change.”

Builders should leave gaps between pavements for grass “to allow the water sip under when it rains,” he advises.

In the meantime, Keli can only make sure she has a quick exit strategy ready. She says: “I worry at every drizzle. But this time, I am prepared with a bag packed for any eventuality to rescue my children. As for the shop, there is little I can do. Until the river is cleaned, I still believe this village will flood if the rain keeps coming as they did these two years.”


This article originally appeared on Climate Home News and is shared under Creative Commons license. This article was produced as part of an African reporting fellowship supported by Future Climate for Africa.

Cover photo by Sophie Mbuaga: The Ngong river is choked with garbage as it passes through Hazina village.
WEF 2019 Global Risk Report once again highlights climate threat

WEF 2019 Global Risk Report once again highlights climate threat

By Elisa Jiménez Alonso

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) most recent global risk ranking in terms of likelihood and impact is spearheaded by climate-related risks. The environmental risk category has been increasingly becoming more prominent since risks related to it started appearing in the top 5 in 2011.

“Of all risks, it is in relation to the environment that the world is most clearly sleepwalking into catastrophe.”

WEF Global Risk Report 2019

The results of climate inaction are becoming more and more visible and in 2019, environmental and societal risks related to climate change account for three of the top five risks by likelihood and four by impact. While the WEF reports that extreme weather was the risk of greatest concern, they also note that “survey respondents are increasingly worried about environmental policy failure: having fallen in the rankings after Paris, failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation jumped back to number two in terms of impact this year.” This response is also very likely linked to the findings of the IPCC in their report about the impacts of 1.5° vs 2.0° C degrees of global warming.

Referencing the results of the C40 study The Future We Don’t Want, completed together with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, Acclimatise and the Urban Climate Change Research Network, WEF’s report also prominently features the dangers of sea level rise to cities. Today, already 800 million people in more than 570 coastal cities worldwide are vulnerable to 0.5 metres of sea level rise by 2050. Given the rate of urbanisation, the number of people at risk is expected to rise significantly. The importance of coastal adaptation and disaster prevention is strongly emphasised.

In the Future Shocks section, WEF also outlines the potential misuse of weather manipulation tools that could stoke geopolitical tensions. They see the intensification of climate-related impacts as a growing incentive to turn to such technological fixes that could be used to manipulate rainfall or similar. Additionally to any environmental consequences the use of such technology could lead to, WEF raises the concern that it could also be viewed as a hostile act if nations use it unilaterally.

Detailed results: climate change

In terms of likelihood, it is the third consecutive year extreme weather events has remained in first place. And it is also the third consecutive year it places high in terms of impact. Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation has also remained at top risk since 2015. Additionally, in the top five risks in terms of impact, water crises sits in fourth place and has been in the top five since 2015 – one of its main drivers being climate change.

The evolving risk landscape 2009-2019. WEF 2019.

Extreme weather events and failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation are fairly alone in the top right corner of the risk landscape, indicating their pole position in terms of both likelihood and impact.

Global risk landscape. WEF 2019.

The risk-trends interconnectedness map clearly shows climate change as one of the main risk trends connected not just to environmental but also societal risks such as water and food crises, but also large-scale involuntary migration.

Risk-trends interconnectedness map. WEF 2019.

Download the full report and visit the report reader by clicking here.


Cover photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash
Vital Glaswegian infrastructure at risk from climate change

Vital Glaswegian infrastructure at risk from climate change

A report by Climate Ready Clyde found that major roads, bridges, rail lines and hospitals in Glasgow are at risk of being damaged or disrupted by climate change impacts.

The in-depth climate risk assessment found that by 2050 Glasgow, whose metropolitan area is home to about 1.8 million people, will be impacted by increasingly powerful storms, more regular heatwaves and heavy flooding in the winter months.

The ramifications of such events could overwhelm hospitals in the area, damage or disrupt large parts of motorways, put the West Highland line at risk of closure due to coastal flooding, and also lead to increased instances of gale-wind forces which are especially dangerous for bridges.

The group, a coalition of six councils, transport agencies, universities and government agencies, sets out a five-year plan that will put forward recommendations for natural flood defences, more air conditioning and ventilation systems, greater tree cover and use of green roofs, and also wind barriers on bridges. Some council will also seek new powers in order to issue their own bonds and raise money from investors to cover the costs of adaptation and resilience building measures.

Speaking on the release, Climate Ready Clyde’s Chair, James Curran, said “It’s fantastic to be bringing stakeholders together to discuss how we ensure Glasgow City Region not just adapts, but prospers in the face of climate change. The U.N. climate change programme shows that, despite cutting our carbon emissions deeply and quickly, a certain amount of climate change is now unavoidable – and so we need to prepare. Our assessment shows where we need new activity and to focus our ambitions in a new Strategy and Action Plan.”

Read the key findings and next steps by clicking here.


Cover photo by Artur Kraft on Unsplash