3 Takeaways from the European Urban Resilience Forum in Bonn
This past Tuesday, 25 June, GCAP's newest team member, Karen, attended the European Resilience Forum in Bonn. A mix of representatives from municipalities and the private sector as well as researchers engaged in talks and discussions around urban Nature-based Solutions (NbS), adaptation governance, finance and monitoring. A couple of interesting perspectives were shared, and reflecting on them now, there are some key take-aways from the forum:
1. There seems to be a mind shift in financing adaptation, especially related to NbS. A number of municipal employees shared stories of their struggle with the long-term care and maintenance of NbS, such as green spaces and waterways. Some have come up with creative funding approaches (read about them below), but the novelty was really this: green and blue infrastructure costs money, just as roads and sewage – accept it! No one questions the budgeting of maintenance and replacement costs for traditional infrastructure projects, and neither should one assume that green and blue infrastructure comes at a once-off implementation cost and everything else is "additional". It feels like many are approaching the next step in NbS, that is moving from a niche to an accepted solution for adaptation.
2. However, there remains a need to find funding sources for adaptation action other than the public treasury. Creative set-ups exist, but they are location-specific and not easily transferrable across cities (or even within one city). The private sector offering adaptation solutions seems to be spearheading the investment scavenger hunt, but it is unclear how much capacity for unconventional financing is built in local authorities.
3. The gap between adaptation capacities and ambition of large and small municipalities and cities is quite wide. Networks at the European or global level appear to be fruitful for knowledge exchange and a motivational push to do better. Yet, smaller municipalities receive far less support in putting adaptation to action. Having identified climate risks and an overall adaptation plan, the next step to prioritize and implement strategies is a hurdle, due to financial and knowledge/experience limitations.
The key word in urban resilience is definitely "capacity". Making sure that we bring everyone along on the adaptation journey requires us to give a hand to smaller municipalities. As the private adaptation sector, we need to ensure that the services and products we provide our clients will enable them to adapt to climate change independently. At GCAP we know that transparent and integrated (into existing processes) adaptation solutions build the needed staff capacity and result in better adaptation outcomes.