Designing the plan

Step 4. Assessing options and designing the adaptation plan

The previous steps are meant to provide inputs for the formulation of the adaptation plan which shall highlight the prioritised adaptation options. Adaptation options are measures aiming to reduce vulnerability to the major climate challenges and exploit new opportunities arising from the changed climatic conditions. Adaptation options can range from measures aiming to build adaptive capacity and to establish governance and supportive mechanisms to measures implemented on the ground to deal with cross-sector or sector-specific vulnerabilities. Adaptation without sustainability would be an illusion. Therefore, when designing an adaptation plan and identifying adaptation measures a wider context of sustainability should be kept in mind. 

  • Choosing the adaptation options

Developing a set of adaptation options can help systematize possible measures to reduce the vulnerability and increase the resilience of a given territory and community. The AdriAdapt platform provides its own catalogue of adaptation options, which are categorised as societal, green and grey options, together with examples of good practices of their implementation. Societal options include policy, legal, social, management and financial measures that can modify human behaviour and styles of governance, contributing to improved adaptation capacity and sustainable development. Green options utilise natural or ecosystem-like processes to improve resilience and adaptation capacity. Grey options refer to technological and engineering solutions to improve adaptation of a territory, infrastructures and people. The AdriAdapt catalogue can be used as an inspiration to design specific adaptation solutions. 

  • Assessing the adaptation options

Based on the strategic and specific objectives set in the previous steps 1 and 3 , potential adaptation options shall be assessed according to their suitability for the local context, feasibility, effectiveness in reducing vulnerability or enhancing resilience, and wider impact on sustainability. It is very important to base the assessment of the adaptation options on shared and transparent criteria, which for example can include: preference of no-regret measures (which are worthwhile whatever the extent of future climate change will be) or low-regret ones (measures with relatively low costs and high benefits), preference of nature-based solutions (green measures), ease of implementation, high benefits-costs ratio, minimization of conflicts and negative trade-off, etc. The assessment can be supported by methodological approaches of diverse nature, including cost-benefit analysis (CBA), cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) and multi-criteria analysis (MCA). The final result of this phase is a clear identification or priority adaptation options.

  • Elaborating the plan

Once climate change risks and vulnerabilities have been assessed (step 2), a vision of the desired future has been designed (step 3) and specific objectives and policies identified (steps 1 and 3), individual adaptation measures can be agreed (step 4), and a framework for the implementation of adaptation can be developed in the form of a plan. An adaptation plan is expected to set out what needs to be done to convert the prioritized adaptation options into actions. A plan can be guided by an adaptation strategy previously developed (at the local, sub-national or even national levels), outlining the direction of actions and the expected outcomes. However, this is not always the case and the strategic objectives of adaptation can also be developed contextually with the plan. The expected contents of the adaptation plan shall be agreed among all the experts contributing to its development. An adaptation plan is not just a list of preferred adaptation measures, but a more articulated document which should contain:

  • a summary of major climate change challenges addressed by the plan
  • the vision and the strategic and specific objectives of the adaptation process 
  • details on each selected adaptation measure, including their preliminary design if needed
  • costs, adaptation benefits and trade-off of the adaptation measures
  • roles and responsibilities for the plan implementation, including those pertaining to coordination
  • links with other strategic and planning documents not focusing on adaptation
  • timeline for the implementation of the adaptation measures
  • overall costs of the plan implementation
  • available funding schemes
  • monitoring, reporting and evaluation (MRE) system (see step 5)
  • Funding the plan

Within the plan, it is recommended to identify available options for funding the implementation of the priority adaptation measures. Some of the measures can be implemented in the frame of the provisions set in other cross-sector or sector-specific planning instruments (see step 5 about mainstreaming adaptation). For others, securing dedicated economic resources is essential. EU funding programmes, such as LIFE, INTERREG and Horizon Europe, can surely contribute to economically supported adaptation at the local level. The European Green Deal will give more lymph to the European funding stream. Other opportunities can derive from national and sub-national funding programmes, dedicated municipal funds, initiatives promoted by the private sector (including those of donor organisations), loans from financial institutions (as the European Investment Bank), crowdfunding, household own funds (i.e. private initiatives aiming to improve their own resilience) and sectoral funding mechanisms (in which available funds may not necessarily be labelled as “adaptation”, but can contribute to it). Flexibility and a combination of various funding and financing sources are advisable, especially in cases where dedicated municipal budget lines may be hard to secure. More about financing may be found in the Handbook on the possibilities of financing adaptation. 

Outcomes of step 4:

  • Catalogue of adaptation options
  • Priority adaptation options
  • Adaptation plan
  • Roadmap for the plan implementation