Networking communities: How municipalities can learn from each other and increase their capacity for adaptation

Kleinstadt in Deutschland

The summer of 2019 showed once again that the consequences of global climate change are already noticeable at the local level. Heat records, heavy rainfall and floods - all these climate impacts are already affecting central areas of municipal services. This means that communities have a key role to play in adapting to climate change. However, despite support from the federal government and enormous pressure to act, small and medium-sized municipalities are not taking adequate action. According to a survey conducted by the German Institute of Urban Affairs in 2018, 81% of municipalities were affected by extreme weather events in the past 10 years, but only a third have already implemented measures to adapt to climate change.

This project supports municipalities in adapting to the consequences of climate change on behalf of the Federal Environment Agency. The project brings together communities that have already implemented adaptation measures and those that are still at the very beginning of the process. This allows inexperienced communities to learn from experienced ones (peer learning) and exchange ideas at the ground level. Thematically, the project deals with the particular effects of climate change on communities. This includes the adaptation of municipal infrastructures, as well as health and social care. The concrete topics and needs are identified in the project together with the municipalities.

adelphi, together with the German Institute for Urban Affairs and alpS, is responsible for three municipal networks in the project. Using design thinking methods, the project team is developing ideas for networking with local stakeholders and promoting mutual learning in interactive "peer-learning workshops". Various peer-learning approaches are being tested. In addition, adelphi is examining how these approaches can be used to motivate and empower communities that have not, or only rarely, dealt with climate adaptation.