Approach for local governments to adapt to climate change

Between 2010 and 2013 the AsianCitiesAdapt project supported eight local governments in identifying their own specific path to climate change adaptation. Four cities in India and four in the Philippines participated in this process. The project provided comprehensive guidance for developing a local adaptation process in a cyclical, integrative, adaptive and inclusive way.

  • The suggested process was adaptive because it supported local governments in continuously improving how decisions are made and actions are implemented. It also helped improve the process as such through a cyclical monitoring and evaluation approach. The cyclical approach acknowledges the uncertainty of the future developments in climate change and its implications and strives to manage these uncertainties by becoming more flexible through regular and periodical monitoring and reassessing the adaptation strategy. This approach introduced a learning component to the process, which was well supported and informed by scientific and technical expertise.
  • The process was integrative because it worked in a cross-cutting way with existing policies and processes across different sectors in order to take advantage of the efforts already invested by the local governments and other levels of government. This helped mainstream adaptation thinking and planning and turn it into routine local government procedures and operations.
  • The process was inclusive because it counted on the input from a broad range of stakeholders and different local government departments, ensuring a fair representation of all social groups in the city and promoting their active participation in the climate adaptation process, irrespective of their level of influence.

The proposed ‘path to adaptation’ was based on five steps:

  1. Baseline development: Assessment of potential climate change impacts and vulnerabilities. This included an assessment of the local vulnerabilities, modelling future climate change impacts and the development of localized scenarios of climate change based on different adaption options.
  2. Adaptation strategy and action plan: Preparation of the city’s adaptation strategy and action plan, in close collaboration with stakeholders. Adaptation thinking integrated into the wider scope of sustainability and resilience as far as possible to avoid any measure that may contribute to maladaptation.
  3. Securing political endorsement: Securing the official endorsement of the adaptation strategy as well as the action plan by the city council.
  4. Detailed action plan, implementation and monitoring: Actions are implemented and managed by the assigned LG staff and (as far as applicable) with the relevant stakeholders. Regular monitoring will ensure that adaptation actions are suitable to meet the objectives and targets set; if the latter is not the case corrective measures are to be taken.
  5. Evaluation and reporting: The aggregated evaluation of actions produced an understanding of the overall progress made in the exercise, which was analysed in the evaluation report. It also included a critical review of the selected vulnerability indicators.

These steps were rooted in a continuous political commitment by the local governments, appropriate stakeholder engagement, as well as an efficient and effective organisational set-up and skilled individuals – both of whom coordinated the different aspects of the process.

Asian Cities Adapt