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2 October 2017

City of Bratislava exchanges with Reykjavik's Experts on Climate Change Adaptation in Iceland

The capital city of Bratislava participated in the 8th international conference of the Society for Disaster Risk Management "Dimensions of Disaster Risk Reduction and Society Resilience in a Complex World" which took place on 23-25 August, in Reykjavík (Iceland). In addition to the conference, the Office of the Chief Architect represented the RESIN project in a visit the City Hall of Reykjavík in order to meet the city's experts for climate change adaptation, whom they first met during the 1st Knowledge Transfer Workshop organised by ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability in Bratislava on 12-13 June 2017.

Among the main topics of the conference were the increase in natural disasters due to climate change such as drought, floods, forest fires and overheating of the urban environment, which also resonate with Central Europe and Bratislava. The city of Bratislava presented outputs from several projects that are related to climate change risk. One of the contributions focused on Bratislava´s experience in the RESIN project, which was prepared together with Faculty of Natural Sciences of the UK in Bratislava and Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems in Germany. The aim was to provide insight on how tools for reducing climate change risks and impacts are developed by researchers and later tested and used by the four city partners in the project. In Bratislava city, these tools are tested and in order to be finally used in urban planning, adaptation planning and decision making, which is in the project referred to as the process of co-creation. The presentation summed up the lessons learned from RESIN and from practical work on the side of implementation of blue and green adaptation measures. The take-home message for Bratislava from this conference is that adaptation planning goes beyond building green and blue infrastructure and should also encompass the planning of preparedness for climate change hazards and minimising the risk they impose for health of citizens but also damage or loss to property, with a special focus on awareness raising and communication in risk management.

Thanks to the cooperation as part of the RESIN project among 1-tier and 2-tier cities, it was possible to meet the representatives of Reykjavík City hall, who also participated in the 1st Knowledge Transfer Workshop and exchange experience with the implementation of adaptation measures in a dynamically changing urban environment that has to withstand the adverse impacts of climate change, such as heavy rainfall and other extreme weather events. In Reykjavik, this problem is solved by diverting water from roads and other impermeable areas to areas that are covered with vegetation or wetlands. Despite the fact that Iceland uses almost exclusively renewable energy (geothermal and water) to meet its energy needs, Reykjavik plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions also by revitalizing wetlands and urban greenery, including its woody component, which can absorb most greenhouse gases. An example of such a wetland is the Vatnsmýrin, which was revitalized on the territory of the city near the University of Iceland and includes an educational walkway that brings its significance closer to visitors and residents of the city.

Like Reykjavik, the capital city of Bratislava is balancing the need for urban development and densification with pleasant and safe urban environment for living. For Bratislava, this mostly concerns reintroducing green areas into the city, which would make the city's microclimate more pleasant during heatwaves and help prevent damage after extremely heavy rainfall. Pilot projects of such adaptation measures have been carried out within the framework of the "Bratislava is preparing for climate change" project, financed by the EEA grants and Norways Grants (project duration 2014-2017).

"Bratislava has had an active approach in adaption to climate change and protecting drinking water resources. Through the presentation of individual projects, it will be possible to continue to cooperate in the future and to establish contacts with foreign partners in implementing concrete measures to increase the adaptation of cities to climate change," said Ingrid Konrad, Chief Architect, City of Bratislava.