11th RAMSES newsletter

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RAMSES Project Training Event Athens (Greece)

15th February 2017 (9.00-17.00)

During the RAMSES training event, cities will receive training on how to use the RAMSES Project results to support their local adaptation planning.  Particularly, cities will learn how to:

  • Calculate the impacts of climate change on public health and the costs connected to them, as well as identify adaptation measures to counteract them;
  • Assess climate risks and vulnerabilities and draw impact chains that reveal not only on direct but also on indirect climate impacts;
  • Select between different adaptation options, also in light of their cost efficiency;
  • Elaborate a vision to a more climate resilient future.

The training is open to cities exclusively. The event is free of charge and limited funds for reimbursing travel and accommodation costs are available.

Register now by completing our online registration form.

For more information, please contact Vasileios Latinos at vasileios.latinos@iclei.org


Table of contents

I) RAMSES Research News

  • Identification of drivers of urban growth in the political and institutional context
  • The RAMSES Transition Model

II) RAMSES 3rd Stakeholder Dialogue hosted exchange on RAMSES key outputs

III) New RAMSES research reports

IV) Latest RAMSES publications

V) RAMSES news

I) RAMSES Research News


Identification of drivers of urban growth in the political and institutional context

RAMSES finalised the report “Identification of drivers of urban growth in the political and institutional context” which analyses the dynamics and the content of adaptation efforts to climate change in selected cities. With special focus on two main hazards (floods and heat risks), this paper sheds light on relevant conditions that facilitated the start and evolution of political and institutional changes culminating in more robust climate-resilient actions at the local level. 

This research is a contribution to experts interested in the institutional and governance aspects of urban adaptation to climate change. It calls on leaders and experts to address climate change with a focus on the most vulnerable groups and to incorporate climate concerns into urban development plans, notably with respect to land use, new infrastructures, social policies, in consultation with stakeholders. It also opens a discussion on the inclusion of cultural factors in the process of resilience building. It argues that adaptation cannot succeed without people empowerment and the consideration of social, institutional and political settings, as well as the nature of urbanization trends.

The paper builds on the lessons learned primarily from the empirical case-study of New York City, supplemented by insights from London and Antwerp.

New York City, one of the key cities of RAMSES, is a high-income urban territory particularly vulnerable to climate-related hazards, such as storm surges and flooding, heat-waves and droughts. We specifically inquired about how climate change-related issues were introduced in urban planning and land-use or building specifications. In the words of public officials, there is a definite movement away from exclusively technical solutions and simple cost-benefit considerations. Especially after the Sandy experience, the attention has shifted to a portfolio of solutions more akin to the redundancy principle of resilience.

The lessons learned from this case study show how resilience-centred approaches “naturally” incorporate sustainability and well-being issues, creating opportunities for civic engagement, improve acceptability, while increasing risk awareness and the sense of responsibility for everyone’s environment. For example, bridging organizations that have adopted the resilience discourse, act on climate-related issues (greening, coastal protection, storm-water management) while seeking wider and more immediate benefits, both environmental and social.


Figure 1: Environmental restoration and creation of green public space in the Bronx. Concrete Plant Park in place of the former industrial site is a remarkable example of restoration efforts made by the local community and the bridging organisation.

Our account of civic participation and stewardship, within the governance structure emerged in New York, highlights how a political and social entity, in a given setting, can act cooperatively over the long term, and in an attempt to cope or live with climate-related hazards. The NYC case study shows a coherent system where the outreach efforts of government meet with the propensity for engagement prevalent in civil society. Potential mutual reinforcement occurs through a culture of multi-party cooperation and compromise. The empowerment objective, i.e. fostering autonomy and control over one’s environment may be key to the success.


The RAMSES Transition Model


The Adaptation Pathway approach used in RAMSES serves as to develop a flexible adaptation plan under uncertainty.

The adaptation pathway approach takes the information elaborated in the previous phases of the project and develops possible pathways. The main methodological steps that need to be covered for the pathway design are:

  1. The authorship and the owner of the pathway need to be identified as a first step. Different stakeholders and experts need to be involved. A high level approach can be done at first step with a small group which will help identifying other stakeholders and experts that need to be involved in the future;
  2. The approach is based on a cyclical process and takes the information developed in the previous phases: the adaptation measures and the assessment of them together with the timing are considered to assemble pathways of alternatives that will tackle the previously defined thresholds;
  3. Resulting of the grouping and sequencing of the measures over time several adaptation pathways are developed. The performance of each adaptation pathway can be assessed (how much are reducing the risk the different pathways, how much they cost etc.);
  4. Prioritisation/ranking of the pathway alternatives. It is possible to do a multi-criteria analysis (MCA) for prioritising the alternatives depending other criteria like: acceptability of the measure (stakeholders and society acceptability), barriers and requirements for implementation, maintenance, co-benefit (if an option has benefits in a single-hazard or more hazards), combinability or synergies with other options (Flörke, 2011; Weiland and Tröltzsch, 2015). As a concluding step a recommended adaptation pathway will be developed which provides a pathway or roadmap for implementation.

Two main activities validated the RAMSES adaptation pathway approach. One resulted in a more open Stakeholder Dialogue (organised on 4 October 2016 in Rome, see other article) and the other with direct invitations (workshop held on 21 November 2016 in London). In both occasions the adaptation pathway has been analysed by working with three real adaptation pathways: the Heat related Adaptation Pathway, the Water Supply Adaptation Pathway (Kingsborough et al., 2016)and the Tidal Flood Risk Pathway (Ranger et al., 2013), all of London.


Taking as a basis the work done by the London Climate Change Partnership, the main steps for the pathway design were summarised for the exercise:


Figure 2: Main steps for the pathway design discussed with the stakeholders.


The following Adaptation Pathway cycle has been elaborated after the validation exercises:


Figure 3. Adaptation pathway approach. Methodological steps.


Although the pathway design is presented as a step-by step methodology, after starting with the identification of own objectives and understanding vulnerability, all other steps can be iterative and be implemented in any order.


More information can be found in the report “Transition Model” (Deliverable 8.2) which will be uploaded on the RAMSES website at the beginning of January 2017.



Flörke, M., 2011. Flörke et al. 2011. Assessment of adaptation measures Factsheets. Annex 11 to the Final Report for the project Climate Adaptation – model.pdf.

Kingsborough, A., Borgomeo, E., Hall, J.W., 2016. Adaptation pathways in practice: Mapping options and trade-offs for London’s water resources. Sustain. Cities Soc. doi:10.1016/j.scs.2016.08.013

Ranger, N., Reeder, T., Lowe, J., 2013. Addressing “deep” uncertainty over long-term climate in major infrastructure projects: four innovations of the Thames Estuary 2100 Project. EURO J. Decis. Process. 1, 233–262. doi:10.1007/s40070-013-0014-5

Weiland, S., Tröltzsch , J., 2015. BASE Evaluation Criteria for Climate Adaptation (BECCA). The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh  Framework Programme under Grant Agreement No.308337 (Project BASE).

II) RAMSES 3rd Stakeholder Dialogue hosted exchange on RAMSES key outputs


Around 25 participants gathered in Rome on the 4th October to participate in the 3rd and last RAMSES Stakeholder Dialogue “Understanding vulnerabilities, assessing economic gains and unlocking the transformative potential of climate adaptation in cities”. The aim of the day was to present RAMSES research results and to discuss them during an open dialogue with cities and other relevant stakeholders for urban adaptation.


Among others, RAMSES Case Cities London, Antwerp and Bilbao were present at the event, and shared their experience with participants. Further to cities participants represented research institutions, national ministries and the EU.

The 3rd Stakeholder Dialogue explored some of RAMSES core research topics.



The Potsdam Climate Institute and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne shared their work on high-level top-down climate projections and on bottom-up tailored work in the RAMSES case cities.  Crucial questions revolved around how Europe-wide vulnerability assessments support cities in planning for adaptation action and what are the limits of such assessments.

Want to know more? Check D3.1


The London School of Economics presented their ‘cost methodology’ and inquired into how it can support cities in identifying the most cost effective climate change adaptation strategies given their economic makeup.

Want to know more? Check D5.2


Tecnalia presented the work done so far on city transitions and inquired into how multi-criteria analyses provide cities with a clear way to select adaptation actions and help create a pathway to urban resilience.

Want to know more? Check D8.1


Furthermore, Nicolas Faivre of the European Commission, DG Research and Innovation presented on their work on nature-based solutions.

Participants engaged in interactive exercises to assess the usability of the research for their work and inform further work of the project.


Soon a workshop report presenting some of the findings of the day will be published on the RAMSES website. Stay tuned! http://www.ramses-cities.eu/events/

III) New RAMSES research reports

New research reports are:

High level quantified assessment of key vulnerabilities and priority risks for urban areas in the EU

This report (now available in an updated version) describes a high level climate risk analysis methodology for urban areas. The approach takes advantage of increased availability of European and global dataset and computing power to apply the method to 571 cities in the EU’s Urban Audit database.


Adaptation Cost Curves 

In this report detailed adaption cost curves are provided for the three RAMSES core case study cities: Antwerp, Bilbao, and London. Additionally, in the context of extreme events (sea flooding) a complete framework has been developed, including the full workflow from the (physical) extreme event through the damage function to the damage distribution and high-level cost-benefit analysis. Adaptation Cost Curves (ACCs) have been proposed as a tool to assist decision-makers in understanding adaptation options in terms of costs and benefits. ACCs are obtained by plotting the cost-benefit ratio as a function of the averted loss (benefit) for each adaptation measure.


Identification of drivers of urban growth in the political and institutional context 

The report analyses the dynamics and the content of the adaptation efforts to climate change in selected cities. With special focus on two main hazards (floods and heat risks), this research sheds light on relevant conditions that facilitated the start and evolution of political and institutional changes culminating in more robust climate-resilient actions at the local level. The paper builds on the case-study of New York City, supplemented by insights from London and Antwerp.


All finalised public deliverables can be downloaded from our project website www.ramses-cities.eu.

IV) Latest RAMSES publications


Fluschnik T, Kriewald S, Cantu Ros A, Zhou B, Reusser DE, Kropp JP, Rybski D (2016): The size distribution, scaling properties and spatial organisation of urban clusters: a global and regional percolation perspective. ISPRS Int. Jour. Geo. Information, 5(7): 110, DOI: 10.3390/ijgi5070110 

Rybski D, Reusser DE, Winz AL, Fichtner C, Sterzel T, Kropp JP (2016): Cities as Nuclei of Sustainability? Environment and Planning B, DOI: 10.1177/0265813516638340 

Lauwaet, D., K. De Ridder, S. Saeed, E. Brisson, F. Chatterjee, N.P.M. van Lipzig, B. Maiheu, H. Hooyberghs (2016): Assessing the current and future urban heat island of Brussels. Urban Climate, 15, 1-15.

Costa, H., Floater, G., Hooyberghs, H.,de Ridder, K. (2016): Climate change, heat stress and labour: a framework for assessing adaptation costs in the city economy. Grantham Research Institute WP 278, London School of Economics and Political Science

Costa, H., Floater, G., Finnegan, J.: Climate-resilient cities. In: Fankhauser, S., and McDermott, T. Eds (2016): The economics of climate-resilient development. Edward Edgar Publishing


V) RAMSES news


The latest research findings of RAMES are published on the RAMSES homepage as RAMSES News. We invite you to have a look.


Europe The work leading to these results has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme under Grant Agreement No. 308497
Project RAMSES - Reconciling Adaptation, Mitigation and Sustainable Development for Cities.