Tuesday, November 27, 2007

ESPACE learns what doesn't work in local adaptation planning

ESPACE (European Spacial Planning Adapting to Climate Events) is an international project acting on the belief - as stated by German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel - that,

"We have to start adapting to climate change now so as to not be overwhelmed by its economic and social consequences later."
Part I of this project took place between 2003 and 2007. It aimed "to promote awareness of the importance of adapting to climate change and to recommend that it is incorporated within spatial planning mechanisms at local, regional, national and European levels. Focussing on North West Europe, ESPACE [looked] at how we manage our water resources and plan for a future with a changing climate."

What ESPACE participants learned in those first four years was that adaptation planning - and the implementation of the resulting plans - come with problems, at least in the context of that chunk of time. Of course, our context is rapidly changing. Part II of the ESPACE project has begun and extends into 2008. Part II is introduced as follows:

Through the delivery of ESPACE Part I, we have found that there are some major obstacles to the delivery and implementation of adaptation to climate change at the local level.

ESPACE Part II will build on the earlier ESPACE work by developing some of the ideas and challenges that have been uncovered. Through a combination of research and two focused case studies, work will be undertaken to:

  • Examine why policies at higher levels promoting adaptation fail to be translated into actions on the ground. This will improve our understanding of what is needed in terms of co-ordination and management to achieve adaptation to climate change.

  • Develop an ‘Organisational Change Tool’ through in depth evidence and theory based research. This tool will give organisations a clear understanding of the things that need to work together and be supported for them to be able to respond to climate risks.

This is an important effort, because it applies some science to the exploration of how important and urgent action needs to be shepharded throught the maze of different agendas, value systems, priorities and perspectives. What things need to work together to achieve response? Hopefully, ESPACE will discover some answers for all of us who focus on local adaptation planning.

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