From 12 to 14 May 2015 more than 700 participants from research, public institutions and business met in the Bella Center in Copenhagen for the ECCA2015 conference. The event served as the RAMSES mid-term conference and project partners organised a wide range of sessions and workshops, gave a large number of presentations and participated in the poster sessions.

This newsletter focuses on the results and experiences of the RAMSES activities during ECCA2015 and the related 2nd RAMSES Stakeholder Dialogue which was organised back-to-back to ECCA2015 on 11 May 2015.

Economic Costs and Benefits of Climate Adaptation in Cities

The main focus of the session was on methods and tools to quantify the damages and adaptation costs associated with climate change. The discussion was around the challenges of assessing vulnerability to climate change and the economic costs and benefits of adaptation strategies at the city level. Six different approaches were presented and discussed, and there were empirical and theoretical contributions, as well as results based on case study research.

As the session included presentations related to various disciplines connected to the topic, the discussion of different approaches was particularly pertinent. One main outcome of the session was that this type of research is still at a very initial stage, such that the contributions of RAMSES over the next years can help shape the direction of research in this area and will be vital to inform policy making decisions. It was particularly useful to understand complementary options for our modeling approaches within the RAMSES research. A specific challenge related to city level adaptation research stemming from the session was the lack of availability of large quantities of data. This is likely to continue to be a problem for RAMSES research.

Chairs: Graham Floater, Seneca Consultants sprl; Hélia Costa, LSE Cities

More information on the session speakers, themes, and time can be found here.

Curating climate impact information and adaptation know-how for local adaptation planning - suitable instruments, formats and media

The speakers of the 4-hour session presented already successful approaches to understand those users needs and their decision making contexts, to communicate research results and to co-create climate and adaptation knowledge by scientists, local policy makers / practitioners and citizens. Some of the insights that were shared with the audience were:

  • that it is useful to translate the knowledge of local experts on how climate affects their activities into practical climate parameters;
  • that the knowledge integration among different scientific disciplines can be more difficult than beyond;
  • that surveys on psychological adaptation barriers and drivers are useful for structuring climate change communication;
  • that boundary and volunteer workers can contribute very successfully to risk communication or;
  • what level of information detail is suited in the different stages of adaptation planning.

In summary, most of the approaches presented seemed to be way ahead of the discussion on how to close the gap between existing climate service offerings and their potential users.

RAMSES project partners ICLEI and Tecnalia presented the concept of the RAMSES Stakeholder Dialogues as a means on sharing and co-creating adaptation research during the ECCA Conference. The Stakeholder Dialogues aim to gather cities and adaptation practitioners in order to discuss the RAMSES Project interim results with the RAMSES Project Scientific Partners. By bringing together a different mix of stakeholders, the Stakeholder Dialogues empower cities’ needs to be factored in the RAMSES final research results, and to create a community of sharing and learning around the topic of climate change adaptation and resilience. Topics discussed in the first two Stakeholder Dialogues ranged from resilient architecture and infrastructure, to adaptation cost curves, to health protection in the face of climate change and to triggering and guiding transitions towards more sustainable futures in cities.
More information about the past RAMSES Stakeholder Dialogues is available at: www.ramses-cities.eu/events/

Chair: Bernd Hezel, Climate Media Factory

Have a look at the session programme!

Operationalizing local adaptation: transition towards urban climate resilience

The objective and approach of the session was presenting real local adaptation plans/initiatives (both with sectoral approach and integrated). 5 speakers presented their work in line with local adaptation that  we would like to thanks: Yi-Chang Chian, Herle Madsen, Frederic Charrier, Peter Bosch and Judith Klostermann.

Four relevant aspects were mentioned in the presentations that served in the final roundtable to structure the discussion:

  • The conceptual framework: resilience/adaptation target definition;
  • Adaptation measures identification and stablishing optimum complementarity among them;
  • Progressive implementation and optimum temporality;
  • Transition factors or key driver and enablers.

5 key issues emerged during the discussion which will serve as an entry in the Transition studies carried out in the RAMSES European project:

  1. Targets setting: uncertainty and complexity addressed through precautionary principles, multifunctionality and innovation;
  2. Measures complementarity and progressive implementation: need to better understand co-benefits;
  3. Drivers: stakeholder involvements, planning and regulatory framework, institutional setting, etc.;
  4. Mainstreaming versus standalone approaches had to be considered;
  5. Monitoring framework could help deployment and better understanding.

Chairs: Maddalen Mendizabal and Efren Feliu, Tecnalia

Have a look at the session programme!

Reconciling adaptation and mitigation in cities: Recent methodological advances

The starting point of the session “Reconciling adaptation and mitigation in cities: Recent methodological advances” was the urgent need to reconfigure our urban areas in relation to different challenges like resources efficiency, pollution and GHGs emissions reduction, resilience to climate change hazards and sustainable in general. That paradigm shift requires addressing synergies and conflicts between mitigation and adaptation which in the end are related to land use, infrastructures planning and built environment management in general.

During the session different approaches to understand and reconcile potential trade-offs among mitigation and adaptation where presented: physical modelling, indicators systems and cases benchmarking, decision support tools, or comprehensive planning framework and policy development.

Some of the key ideas that could be captured in the interventions where related to the complexity of these linkages; the data and resources that could be required (or not); the importance of analysing scenarios and comparing different design or policy options, better under participatory and collaborative approaches, which are in the end related to governance and regulatory frameworks.

Chairs: Alistair Ford, Newcastle University; Efrén Feliu, Tecnalia

Have a look at the session programme!

Cities and climate change impacts - Bridging the scales between case studies and large scale city analysis

One of the workshops organized by the RAMSES consortium was "Cities and climate change impacts - Bridging the scales between case studies and large scale city analysis".

A brief introduction to the topic was given and it was outlined that climate change impact and adaptation research is often performed at either the global/continental scale or at the regional/local scale. These different approaches address different sets of stakeholders and decision makers, and in cities the problem is even more apparent. On one hand, case study analyses are very detailed but rarely transferable, whilst on the other hand, in large scale assessments cities are rarely satisfactorily represented.

These considerations were supported by a stimulus talk "Forecasting how regional spatial planning affects built form and the potential of water management to reduce climate change impacts" by Tony Hargreaves (Cambridge University) and an application talk "Meso- and micro-scale urban climate projections" by Koen De Ridder (VITO). The former described an approach to link regional-scale modelling of socio-economic and urban systems with local-scale impacts and potential for mitigation action. The latter gave an overview of different scales of analysis and modelling of urban climate.

Following the talks, a roundtable discussion encouraged valuable inputs from external participants (e.g. from Metoffice, Finnish Meteorological Institute, University of Notre Dame) on the issues of scale and some ideas for addressing the problems in future research.

Chairs: Diego Rybski, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Alistair Ford, Newcastle University

Have a look at the workshop programme!

What’s needed to turn climate information into climate services for Europe?

Another workshop raised the question “What’s needed to turn climate information into climate services for Europe?”. Starting from the premise that for science-based climate information to offer a service, the information should be meaningful and relevant in the context of the target audience, the participants discussed how the provision of climate information could become demand-driven, i.e. a service. In this context the importance of transferring responsibility from natural scientists to social scientists and communication experts was emphasized. The current state of knowledge and several clever approaches to providing climate services (which may be seen as good practices) were presented. And finally, the participants discussed major challenges to be addressed by future research and visions on how to advance services that interface climate science, policy and society.

Co-chairs: Bernd Hezel, Richard Klein and Christian Bjørnæs

Have a look at the workshop programme!

Success of RAMSES exhibition booth for presenting interim results and discussing with conference participants

The RAMSES exhibition booth was visited by a large number of conference participants who learnt about the projects’ interim results in discussions with members of the RAMSES team or by printed material. Topic related videos were shown, including the RAMSES introductory video.






Voices of RAMSES partners on ECCA2015

James Kallaos, Norvegian University of Science and Technology:

The main impression I brought back from ECCA2015 is that the field of climate adaptation seems to be progressing rapidly, not only regarding both the quantity of quality of research, but in the level of interest and involvement of the attendees and participants. While some communities seem ready to start making changes and adapting to address perceived threats, I think there remains a demand for quantification and analysis to determine the best course of action. RAMSES has a strong role in this regard, helping to provide a means of assessing the trade-offs and co-benefits associated with the implementation of specific adaptation options, and the potential harm from a lack of action toward future threats.”

Nicole de Paula, Université de Versailles St-Quentin-en-Yvelines:

During the ECCA conference, scholars and policy makers were concerned with one simple and yet complex question: how do we make adaptation real? How, we researchers can get out of our labs and ensure that our societies are becoming more resilient? With more than 700 presentations, the variety of topics was impressive and discussions were stimulating. Different aspects of adaptation were debated, but there was one overall conclusion: adaptation is an investment and not a cost! As shown in the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), all countries around the world will be affected by the impacts of climate change. Extreme events and gradual changes will be challenging for all regions, but cities will have to be at the forefront of action. Technological solutions are not sufficient and one central lesson is that, without adequate governance and regulatory innovation, little can be achieved. Overall, we learned that there will be unpredictable consequences from climate change and, instead of trying to predict in much detail the future, researchers could concentrate on complementary reasons to act on adaption, notably cascading effects beyond national boundaries. Our researches should highlight the need for inclusive decision-making; better evaluation and monitoring mechanisms; public-private partnerships on innovation; and long term perspectives that could focus on prevention. Collaboration across multi-stakeholders remains a key ingredient of successful adaptation strategies. Finally, one issue that is not new and but remain crucial is: how to get politicians into action? No universal solution exists but ECCA made clear that a key priority is to assist policy makers to be better informed during their process of decision-making.”

Helia Costa, LSE Cities:

"One particular impression from the ECCA conference was that there is a lot of interest in the analysis of the costs and benefits of adaptation to climate change in urban settings, both for academics and for policy makers. Thus there seems to be scope for doing rigorous academic research that is also policy relevant. Research in the area is still in many ways at an initial stage, such that there is an opportunity for RAMSES to play an important role in the debate."

II) 2nd RAMSES Stakeholder Dialogue

Back-to-back to ECCA, the RAMSES project held its second Stakeholder Dialogue,organised by ICLEI at the European Environment Agency premises on 11 May 2015. The app. 20 participants from cities (amongst which the RAMSES Case City London), other public bodies and scientific institutions had the opportunity to share their experiences and get insights into health protection in the face of climate change (WHO), tools and instruments for local adaptation decision-making (University of Versailles) and triggers of change for transition in cities (Tecnalia).

“At Tecnalia we deemed this interaction with cities and stakeholders crucial to refine the scope of our research and trigger further thinking” said Maddalen Mendizabal, who conducted one of the exercises during the Stakeholder Dialogue.

Some impressions of the SD can be found here: youtu.be/j1NEJdWCl38.

At the SD,RAMSES partner Climate Media Factory interviewed cities and most renowned experts at the conference. Their advise will become part of a toolbox for policy makers that helps to assess impacts, adaptation measures and costs for cities.

The third and last RAMSES Stakeholder Dialogue will be organized in 2016.

More information about the past RAMSES Stakeholder Dialogues is available at: http://www.ramses-cities.eu/events/.


A video introducing the RAMSES project in general and first results is available on http://www.ramses-cities.eu/home/.

IV) RAMSES Deliverables available online

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

V) RAMSES in a nutshell

The European research project RAMSES aims to develop methods and tools to quantify the expected damages in cities due to climate change and costs of specific adaptation measures using a systems-based risk approach on a regional scale. This will allow decision makers to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of adaptation measures in cities and to consider trade-offs and inter-linkages with social and environmental issues.

In order to achieve this, urban characteristics and their inter-linkages will be identified and used to provide the local context for the assessment. In an integrated top-down and bottom-up approach risks, vulnerabilities and damages from climate change will be quantified. Associated costs and benefits of adaptation will then be assessed to support the design of sustainable transition strategies in urban areas.

RAMSES started on 1 October 2012 and will run until 30 September 2017.

The RAMSES Newsletter will be sent via email at key moments during the project lifetime, e.g. after the release of a scientific deliverable or stakeholder events. Interesting links to relevant websites and publications provide additional information on the topics described.

Project website: www.ramses-cities.eu

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). The content in this leaflet reflects the authors’ views. The European Commission is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.


Copyright © 2015 RAMSES consortium, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is: info@ramses-cities.eu

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.