Adaptation Training School – Bilbao

From the 18-22 February 2013 the Adaptation Training School (COST Action TU-0902) was held in Bilbao, Spain. The main objective of the training school was to generate basic knowledge for adaptation management in beginner cities. It also aimed to provide an opportunity to identify key policy needs to overcome difficulties for adaptation implementation at local level, helping scientific agents to scope and align their research with those needs.

Each day was split into to three main sections; firstly a group of presentations in the morning, with secondly a practical exercise in the afternoon (outlined before).

On the Monday sessions were led by Efrén Feliu, and some of his colleagues from Tecnalia in which an overview of the week’s timetable, as well as to an introduction to vulnerability assessment. Tuesday consisted of presentation & a practical exercise from Astrid Westerlind Wigström on the Adaptation Management cycle. In addition Birgit Georgi discussed policies, initiatives, tools and upcoming EU Adaptation Strategy. Wednesday Juergen Kropp introduced uncertainty management and Alistair Ford discussing integrated assessment of urban sustainability, including a practical exercise.  Thursday Johannes Flacke outlined co-benefits and trade- and Peter Bosch provided information and a practical on integrating adaptation in land use and urban planning. Friday’s presentations were: green Infrastructures and ecosystem services role in adaptation measures (Kari Oinonen); regeneration of Bilbao; Urban metabolism and industrial ecology (Rolf Bohne); and Economics of adaptation (Graham Floater).

Finally a discussion focusing on both; the key take home messages from the day’s work, and how the scientific community can aid local authorities in initiating such programs. These discussions had familiar themes, such as: practitioners being unaware of the tools that exist; language differences; a lack of expertise to produce maps, etc., required for decision making purposes; a “gap” between scientists and local authorities.

Various ideas to counter these issues were also discussed, with the idea of knowledge mapping of tools and research seen as an important step to allow for beginner cities to start on the road of climate change adaptation, as well as the age old need for science to be presented in a useful form for those who are to apply it. A further suggestion was to address a funding gap which may exist been when a research project is completed and the dissemination of methods to local authorities. It was proposed that funding applications in the future could be adapted to include the resources to allow academics to spend time with practitioners at the end of a project to increase the likelihood of ideas to be implemented.

The training school, in my opinion, was an initial success as it brought representatives of sixteen European cities together (with four early career researchers) to discuss how cities could begin to adapt to climate change. Although, if it is to be seen as a long term success these cities must assimilate what they have learnt and implement it within planning and policy to allow for adaptation to take place.

Shaun Brown

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