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Co-designing climate services to support adaptation to natural hazards: a case study from Stockholm, Sweden

Submitted by Robin Hocquet 8th February 2021 10:38
Stockholm

Photo: Pedro Szekely, via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Introduction

Despite a strong increase in climate change adaptation research over more than a decade, climate information is seldom used to its full potential in adaptation planning and decision-making. This gap between research and action signals that there is a lack of actionable knowledge to support adaptation decision-making.

This case study builds upon work carried out within the project HazardSupport, which ran from 2015 to 2020. The aim of the project was to develop a new, collaborative method for tailoring information about the impacts of climate change on natural hazards to inform adaptation decisions.

This new collaborative method, the Tandem framework, has been applied in two Swedish case studies of Karlstad municipality and City of Stockholm. The following case study explores how the co-design of climate services can support adaptation to heat waves in Stockholm.

*Key messages below come from the brief Co-designing climate services to support adaptation to natural hazards: two case studies from Sweden. Download the full brief from the right hand column.
*See the overarching brief synthesis here.
*The synthesis of the first case study on supporting adaptation to multiple water hazards in the municipality of Karlstad can be accessed through this link.

Growing awareness of heat waves and identification of adaptation measure

The adaptation challenge in the case study of Stockholm relates to the city’s rapid growth and urgent development needs. The official target of building 140,000 homes by 2030 will mean making the city denser, and developing new residential areas. As identified by municipal officers during the initial phase of HazardSupport, this development goal might have implications for the vulnerability of the city to climate change and heat stress.

Defining the adaptation challenge in Stockholm – as in Karlstad – has been a gradual process, in which awareness and momentum for addressing it have grown over the years.

Moreover, as described by municipal officers in Stockholm, internal adaptation work has developed over the years. The City Plan, adopted in 2018, includes aspects of adaptation, such as cloudbursts, sea-level rise and heat waves.

The Tandem Framework

Whilst the steps below and the application of them in this case study remain important and relevant, the overall Tandem framework has been further updated (based on lessons learned here and in other Tandem case studies).

The Tandem framework has been developed to guide providers and intermediaries of climate information through seven iterative steps that are intended to produce relevant, actionable and sustainable climate services that meet the needs of the users of the climate information:

  • Step 1 consists of identifying and defining an adaptation challenge that would benefit from the use of a climate service.
     
  • Step 2 focuses on identifying and engaging with potential users of a climate service.
     
  • Step 3 involves co-defining the desired objectives of a climate service, and reviewing advantages and shortcomings of existing services.
     
  • Step 4 entails gaining an understanding of the institutional and decision contexts in which the climate service will be embedded.
     
  • Step 5 guides providers and users of the climate service in co-exploring data and information needs, including their sources, formats and modes of dissemination.
     
  • Step 6 consists of appraising adaptation measures, in which decision-support methods may be used to identify, evaluate, prioritize and sequence interventions.
     
  • Step 7 ensures that the climate service is used in practice by embedding it in existing institutions, and ensuring that mechanisms are in place for maintaining, evaluating and upgrading the service as appropriate.

Co-exploration of data and information needs

To meet the municipality’s need for a better understanding of what densification means for heat stress risks (corresponding to Tandem steps 1-4), the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) and municipal officers identified two overarching questions:

  1. What impact will the planned expansion and densification have on urban air temperatures?
  2. How sensitive are urban air temperatures to “greening”, or measures that include GI?

To address the first question, SMHI analyzed the effects on air temperature of four different municipal and regional planning scenarios with different ratios of green spaces. In the development of these scenarios, the iterative exchange of information and data between SMHI and local stakeholders appears to have been critical to ensure their relevance to ongoing planning processes in Stockholm (corresponding to Tandem Step 5).

Using climate information in future city planning

The information is expected to feed into municipal planning processes in two ways. First, it will provide the municipal officers with general information about the role of GI for heat stress mitigation. The scenario results can be used in communication to enhance awareness and create discussions about the future development of the city.

Second, the information may inform further development of the Green Space Index tool, which focuses on green infrastructures as a means to manage surface water and biodiversity, and aims to better capture adaptation considerations alongside social and biodiversity values. 

Find the key messages from the project in the overarching brief synthesis