Friday, March 28, 2014

How are Swedish Cities Planning to Adapt to Climatic Change Extremes?

Planning for Climatic Extremes and Variability: A Review of Swedish Municipalities’ Adaptation Responses(27 page pdf, Christine Wamsler and Ebba Brink, Sustainability, Mar. 14, 2014)

Today we focus our attention on Sweden, one of few countries in the world which is on track to become carbon neutral within this decade. The journal article under review looks at how Swedish cities approach the other side of climatic change- adapting to impacts, both natural and anthropogenic, using physical, economic and socio-economic measures. While there is little top-down direction at the national level beyond the provision of tools such as the Klimatanpassningsportalen on the internet to share practices and approaches, within cities top-down is the rule, leaving little for individual initiative but reflecting the local differences among  the cities across Sweden.

local city role impacts

Key Quotes: 

“disaster risk, and consequently disasters, results from an interaction between climatic and non-climatic hazards (H) and conditions of vulnerability (V) …. Climatic hazards include floods, windstorms, droughts, fires, heat and cold waves, sea-level rise (water surges) and landslides …Vulnerability is the degree to which communities or societies are “susceptible to the damaging effects of a hazard”…Risk is thus influenced by both climatic and societal change. “

“adaptive capacity is influenced by six general aspects which can be related to mainstreaming (i.e., the anchoring of adaptation at the institutional level): robust institutional setup, useful knowledge systems, functioning infrastructure, economic resources, access to technology and equity”

 “Physical Measures: Technological and Structural Approaches for Physical Vulnerability Reduction - The majority of the physical measures identified are aimed at hazard and vulnerability reduction to riverine and coastal flooding”

“Environmental Measures: Win-Win and No-Regret Measures for Ecosystem-Based Adaptation - The environmental .. measures identified are principally aimed at managing excess runoff water by (a) directly reducing it where it falls, or (b) delaying its flow to the “traditional” stormwater system”

“Socio-Economic Measures - … Most of these are aimed at preparedness for response, such as the establishment of early warning systems or emergency traffic planning (e.g., keeping cars or trains away from thoroughfares that are exposed to floods)”

 “Sweden has no national adaptation strategy, despite its top-down management of environmental issues in general.. Nevertheless, the national government has certainly influenced today’s risk governance structure.. adaptation in Sweden (and worldwide) needs to move from single physical interventions and technical fixes to institutional change “

“Klimatanpassningsportalen…is a tool developed by the Swedish National Knowledge Centre for Climate Change Adaptation..It provides a great opportunity to address the identified lack of systematization and assessment of current measures and strategies for adaptation and mainstreaming.”

“While at the national level, there seems to be a lack of top-down guidance, at the municipal level top-down approaches are prevalent”
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