Evolving issues brief 2019

Our evolving issues brief provides an overview of PLACARD’s progress in bridging the gaps between the climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) communities.

It focuses on current issues that are of particular importance to both communities, and suggests how these issues can be resolved . The brief also discusses topics that are likely to grow in importance in the near future, together with initiatives and activities to bridge gaps between CCA and DRR, and poses related new research questions.

1. Finance and funding

Finance and funding for the CCA and DRR communities traditionally comes from different funding streams – harmonising those funding models would be helpful in implementing the global frameworks. The European Environment Agency (EEA) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have shown that funding for climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) measures remains fragmented across sectoral budgets and levels of government (EEA, 2017). Few countries have systematically assessed the available global funding envelope as a basis for better streamlining and harmonising CCA and DRR investments. In those member countries that did engage in such assessments, it was shown that funding levels remain insufficient in achieving CCA and DRR objectives, and that resources could be better leveraged to achieve the twin goals of CCA and DRR policies. Furthermore, private finance also plays a role in CCA and DRR, in particular for investments in privately owned infrastructure. In addition, there are also private investors such as charity funds and angel investors that contribute to CCA and DRR investments. Last but not least, banks, insurers and pension funds are improving the sustainability of their investments, and beginning to incorporate climate change and disaster risk reduction as well. What are feasible investments models for private actors?

Although PLACARD has not yet set up a specific dialogue on finance coherence, the team has explored the current questions regarding finance and funding. Questions for a dialogue are:

  • How to estimate the volumes of the finance of CCA and DRR and track them properly?
  • What is the most appropriate methodology to estimate mitigation and adaptation finance?
  • How to coordinate the financial instruments to invest in CCA and DRR?
  • How to foster urban resilience finance?
  • How can national budgets be leveraged to achieve higher levels of complementarity in funding climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction measures?
  • How to overcome key context, business model and internal capacity barriers to access finance for CCA and DRR? (Micale et al, 2017)
  • How to overcome key technical or regulatory impediments to connecting the CCA and DRR agendas?

Action points

  • To answer the question: what mechanisms or governance models can be used to foster financial coherence between DRR and CCA both in the public and private sector?

PLACARD outputs

2. Terminology in CCA and DRR

PLACARD has observed that about 60% of the terms currently used in the CCA and DRR communities overlap, but may have a different meaning. This hampers communication and discover of relevant knowledge. This situation impedes collaboration, creates redundancies, and leaves many people unsure about who is working where, and on what. Based on previous experiences in PLACARD, the team has explored the challenges in finding relevant knowledge through workshops and user-feedback sessions. A particular challenge is that a great deal of knowledge is spread over the internet on different websites and is difficult to find. A solution may be to use language more effectively by harmonising language and sharing terminology. Although it cannot be expected that people will all use the same definitions, an enhanced understanding of the differences can strengthen knowledge management among different platforms and organisations, and therefore will ease the uptake of knowledge. Furthermore, technologies exist that can ease the connection of data, for instance via semantic tagging. Applying these will result in better discoverability of knowledge, better communication and improved collaboration.

The PLACARD team is engaged in developing the Connectivity Hub, an innovative way to explore how semantic tagging and IT technology can result in better access to relevant knowledge, with the aim of contributing to better collaboration between the CCA and DRR communities. The Connectivity Hub has been designed and developed in an iterative and interactive way via feedback with potential users. Through this process we found that the challenges that to ensure the Connectivity Hub meets user needs are:

  • The ability to search for people
  • The ability to find key knowledge
  • The ability to find good practices, solutions and plans.

For successful operation of such mechanisms and further uptake, a shared tagging system is required, that uses a ‘controlled vocabulary’ – a widely accepted and utilised set of terms for describing content in CCA and DRR – as standard practice. To be most effective, international standards also need to be developed, to ensure consistent content tagging of CCA and DRR related content. Such standards would be a step towards Linked Open Data and the Semantic Web, which promote common protocols to allow the interconnection and structuring of data across the World Wide Web. This concept holds huge potential for enhancing access to knowledge and identifying true knowledge gaps. PLACARD is working to meet these challenges through the development of new IKM tools and guidelines.

Action points

  • Reach out to the UNISDR’s IKM community at GPDRR 2019 to initiate joint activities on Information and Knowledge Management Standards.

PLACARD outputs

3. Strategic narratives and stories

Narratives are stories that are told with a specific purpose in mind, for example with the aim of convincing an audience to prepare for a changing climate and related weather extremes. Narratives can play an important role in creating and boosting change to support CCA and DRR. In PLACARD, we have explored the role of narratives as well as the ‘key ingredients’ of successful narratives that can mobilise people to act, and thus initiate change. Exploration of these key ingredients was carried out through desk research of relevant scientific literature, and participatory dialogue with practitioners, policy officers and academics during the following events:

  • Narratives workshop Bonn, June 2016;
  • Narratives workshop Bonn, June 2017;
  • Narratives workshop Brussels, October 2017;
  • Narrative session during Adaptation Futures, Cape Town (SA), June 2018.

Current findings on the topic of strategic narratives can be briefly summarised as follows:

  • The importance of stories that appeal to people in order to foster transformational change is acknowledged in both the CCA and the DRR community;
  • Good narratives are stories that succeed in mobilising people to act upon a specific goal (“a story in mind with a purpose behind”). These narratives align with the worldviews of the target group;
  • Stories can be designed following a specific storyline structure that includes the introduction, the characters, the situation, the complicating action, the result and its overall meaning;
  • “Key ingredients” include using familiar wording, putting stories in present and familiar context, alignment with values of the target group, empowerment, and making explicit what the story means for the target group;
  • Narratives and stories can be told by many people, but trust in the narrator is a crucial part of telling successful stories that mobilise people.

Action points

  • To develop training materials that CCA and DRR communities can use to design strategic narratives;
  • To explore the power of strategic narratives with regard to one of the most urgent urban topics: urban heat and related health problems.

PLACARD outputs

4. Sendai Framework and Paris Agreement

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) and the Paris Agreement (PA) represent important international agreements with a common goal of achieving a resilient future. Although both agendas differ with regard to their scope, structure, implementation mechanism and legal enforcement, they also overlap to a large extent. Climate change has been identified as one of the most challenging risks to mankind. Thus, mitigation can be understood as risk reduction and climate change adaptation becomes an integral part of preparedness and risk management. Consequently, alignment of the implementation processes of SFDRR and PA can eliminate many work inefficiencies and create potential synergies resulting from more effective and efficient policies, an enhanced knowledge base, stronger collaboration and a better use of available resources.

Unfortunately, little has been done so far to create coherence between both policy processes by implementation of common and aligned actions (the implementation of both agendas is often controlled by different ministries/departments preoccupied either with environment and climate change or civil protection issues). This problem has been addressed many times during the PLACARD interchange with CCA & DRR community members (at workshops, conferences, online dialogues). In order to raise awareness with national/subnational governments on the urgent need to align SFDRR and PA, the PLACARD team created two leaflets that interpret the agreements through the lens of the other community, indicating the main overlaps and most significant benefits of collaboration and alignment.

The PLACARD team also organised the Boundary Panel (March 2019) to discuss the findings of both flyers and to find out the most effective ways of feeding them into policy processes. The participants, representing some prominent stakeholders from the CCA & DRR landscape such as DG CLIMA, DG ECHO, UNISDR, OECD and others, agreed that raising awareness of gains from aligning SFDRR and PA is critical. They also confirmed that the alignment is most likely to happen through the following fields as already highlighted in both flyers:

  • Monitoring and reporting;
  • Finance (cross-cutting point for CCA & DRR);
  • Risk assessment methods.

In the next step, the findings will be adjusted to a sub-national level, e.g. by adding relevant (local) examples.

Action points

  • To develop an additional adjusted version of SFDRR and PA flyers that is consistent with the sub-national/local (e.g. urban) framework, in order to politicise “the incoherence problem” across all governance levels;
  • To disseminate the findings with help of relevant institutions (incl. panelists) that often assist national governments in integration and coordination of CCA & DRR actions.

PLACARD outputs

5. Foresight methods

Foresight methods support forward-thinking and aim to help decision-makers to explore and anticipate what might happen in the future and what this means for actions today. Foresight methods are participatory, open and action-oriented. The potential of foresight methods to foster collaboration between CCA and DRR communities is large:

  • Informing policy: generating insights in the dynamics of change, future challenges and options;
  • Facilitating policy implementation: enhancing the capacity for change within a given policy field by building common awareness of current and future challenges as well as new networks and visions among stakeholders;
  • Embedding participation in policy-making and thereby improving transparency and legitimacy;
  • Supporting policy definition: jointly translating outcomes from the collective process into specific options for policy definition and implementation;
  • Reconfiguring the policy system in a way that addresses long-term challenges;
  • Symbolic function: indicating to the public that policy is evidence based

PLACARD has developed a foresight methodologies report that explores foresight, foresight methods, their application in CCA and DRR and how they might be used to support integrating CCA and DRR across Europe. It has been presented during several dialogues.

Foresight may:

  • Enhance the effectiveness of participatory processes, cooperation and dialogue;
  • Produce salient knowledge and capacity building that is relevant for future decision making and policy support;
  • Facilitate the understanding of issues and concepts such as complexity, uncertainty, non-linearity, wildcards and surprises;
  • Generate levers that build flexibility into policy measures and across policy areas;
  • Address different time scales simultaneously, for example, connect long-term CCA prevention with short-term DRR preparedness;
  • Be used in the context of trust building and the development of shared values;
  • Allow for the use of a holistic perspective in connecting different policy areas.

Challenges that deserve further consideration:

  • Each situation is different and requires specific knowledge input: there is no single “best practice” or “scientifically proven” approach to foresight;
  • Foresight is a learning process for all participating actors, making it demanding and difficult even if the stakes are well known;
  • People are key: any foresight activity should address ownership by the participants and move beyond scientific/technical considerations as often “perception is considered as reality” for many involved in making decisions;
  • Foresight activities should consider both products and processes;
  • Foresight does not necessarily lead to quick, direct and easy results so expectations should be moderated;
  • Foresight exercises should not adhere to a strict controlled process but rather retain flexibility;
  • Recommendations resulting from foresight exercises are not expected to be automatically implemented and should not necessarily be seen as directly leading to priority setting.

PLACARD has engaged in the dialogue on foresight methods in several occasions:

Foresight methods have been applied and discussed, and the current findings of the dialogue are that it can help to understand the impact of the Junker EU development scenarios on the fields of CCA and DRR. The Junker EU development scenarios will largely affect the governance of climate adaptation policy as well as disaster risk reduction. By investigating the upsides and the downsides, preferred scenarios were explored, and the best of the futures were discussed. This foresight method can be helpful to discover what actions need to be taken today to navigate to the most appropriate future in terms of climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction. The recommended actions from the workshop can further guide DG Climate, DG Echo and DG Research, since they are working on updating their policies.

Action points

  • May 2019: Foresight session at ECCA 2019, Lisbon
  • Late 2019: Second foresight report to be launched

Placard output: