Promoting climate change adaptation in Europe from the local level

Aalto University is leading a European project aiming to find ways to adapt to climate change. The focus is in mobilizing society by creating local networks.
AELCLIC Pathfinder project

The European Union has detected the urgent need of aligning agendas and visions on climate change. This need is the basis of the Adaptation of European Landscapes to Climate Change project (AELCLIC) funded by the EU’s Climate-KIC programme. The project focuses on promoting the dialogue and cooperation between the different types of stakeholders involved in the management and transformation of European landscapes.

The project has identified 16 pilot landscapes across Europe, three of which are in Finland: Malmi district in Helsinki, Hyyppä valley and Tornio-Haparanda. These pilots have been selected to cover the climatic, socio-economic, cultural and biogeographical diversity of Europe - from big cities to rural areas and from Boreal to Mediterranean countries - and in order to produce highly transferable and scalable models for the creation of local networks.

During the AELCLIC project, these local networks are working together to find joint visions and agendas on what needs to be done. ‘We need a real effort and involvement of all the partners to make this happen’, says the leader of the project, Associate Professor at Aalto University Juanjo Galan.

‘These landscapes - and the way in which we live or produce in them - are going to be severely affected by climate change and that is why we need to work together to plan their adaptation. This, in the end, is the adaptation of our own societies to a new environment’, says Galan.

Adaptation plans to connect to broader visions

According to the European Environmental Agency, the Nordic and Baltic region will experience a temperature rise much larger than global average, a decrease in snow, lake and river ice cover, an increase in river flows, a northward movement of species and an increasing damage risk from winter storms. At the same time, the area will witness an increase in crop yields, a decrease in energy demand for heating, an increase in hydropower potential and an increase in summer tourism. 

The AELCLIC project is looking for local solutions - from the social, financial, administrative and technical point of view - to the effects of climate change and stimulating local debate and networking. The locals have the best comprehension of how climate change might affect different aspects of their daily life and how they interact with the landscape.

During the project it was detected, that it is important to connect the ideas produced by local networks with other plans affecting each pilot area. For example, the work developed by the AELCLIC Malmi network is expected to contribute to the current definition of the Malmi Vision by the City of Helsinki or to concretize the general ideas of the Helsinki Programme for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation - Carbon-neutral Helsinki 2035.

‘In this way, AELCLIC works as a multiplier and local network activator: as a tool to let local people internalize what climate change can mean for them, and to start being active partners in the development of solutions’, says Galan. 

AELCLIC-projekti, Malmin työpaja
AELCLIC project, Malmi workshop

The project has a multiplier effect

The first workshops in the pilot areas have aimed to identify local partners, such as business people, politicians, researchers, neighbors and non-governmental organizations, and to activate their collaboration. The second workshops focused in the co-identification of potential impacts and opportunities of climate change. Finally, the third workshops during autumn will aim to co-define the basic structure of Local Adaptation Plans to Climate Change (LACAP) and to discuss how each participant could contribute to its future definition and implementation.

‘Through this initiative the project wants to provide a bottom-up and society-based approach to current actions on climate change adaptation, which will culminate in the signing of a set of charts by all the local stakeholders of each pilot landscape’, explains Galan.

At this point, almost all the planned workshops have already taken place in the Finnish pilot landscapes and in most of the European pilot landscapes. Interestingly, one of the most important achievements of the project has been its multiplier effect. Thus, one project that started with nine partners and eleven third parties have already mobilized more than 100 local institutions or organizations, which have found in the AELCLIC project an opportunity to learn, discuss and propose together actions for climate change adaptation

Next steps

Following the conclusion in October 2019 of all the workshops and activities, the project will concentrate during November and December in the comparison of the methodologies and results produced in all the 16 pilot landscapes. This critical reflection will be essential to produce one of the final outcomes of the project: a toolbox or guidelines to facilitate the creation of new local networks for climate change adaptation in other European landscapes.

In addition, the last phase of the project will include the conformation of new alliances between the local networks created during the AELCLIC project, as well as the identification of new funding opportunities to advance in the elaboration of the envisioned Local Adaptation Plans to Climate Change (LACAP).

What started as an abstract idea is already taking shape and the AELCLIC project is already mobilizing and grouping the civil society, economic actors and administrations around the adaptation of local landscapes to climate change.   

More information:

The AELCLIC Pathfinder project

Juanjo Galan, Associate Professor & Chair of the Landscape Observatory of Finland, Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, +358 46 922 1800, [email protected]

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