Debate on adaptation in Luxembourg
What kind of political commitment does your city/town have on adaptation to climate change and how does this lead to concrete local action? What kind of political support could you give within your city/municipality to help planning and implementing adaptation action? And: What type of support would you expect from the new European initiative? What is needed from the European level to enable effective local action? These and further questions were key aspects in the debate about adaptation and the Mayors Adapt initiative at the Climate Alliance International Annual Conference and General Assembly in Luxembourg on 9th of May 2014.
It was a lively debate between Neil Swannick, Manchester City Council and Committee of the Regions (UK), Holger Matthäus, Senator for Construction and Environment, City of Rostock (DE) and Joost Venken, Deputy Mayor, City of Hasselt (BE), moderated by Minu Hemmati.
The pannelists started with some short statements:
Niels Swannick (Greater Manchester, Committee of the Regions) highlighted the crucial role of cities: “Local authorities have to deal with the consequences of climate change, they are the first responders”. He said that cities in the South West and South of the UK have already suffered some serious and lengthy flooding: “Even if we manage to turn down the emissions today, there will still be extreme whether events!”
Holger Matthäus (City of Rostock) stressed the fact that it is time for local authorities to “look at the other side of the climate change issue”. The region experienced a series of extreme weather conditions in 2011, like important snow falls in the winter, very dry spring and massive flooding caused by heavy rain in the Summer, for which is was totally unprepared. Since then, the whole administration (i.e. all departments in their own areas of expertise) has been involved to develop a local adaptation concept.
Joost Venken, Deputy Mayor of Hasselt and official Mayors Adapt Signatory, signalled its support to the Mayors Adapt initiative “which has to be complementary with the Covenant of Mayors”. The city is pursuing its ongoing efforts to raise the awareness of citizens and get them involved in the process.
In addition to the panellists, an empty chair was on stage, allowing people from the audience to express their interest and expectations towards the initiative. Not only cities expressed their interest (e.g. The Hague), but also several potential supporting structures (e.g. Region of Frankfurt, Province of Barcelona, Climate Alliance Austria/Italy, Kyoto Club). In particular Barcelona Province expressed his willingness to join as “Mayors Adapt Coordinator” and work with its 200 municipalities who have already signed a declaration on adaptation.
Besides, the event offered participants the opportunity to get further information on the similarities and the differences between Mayors Adapt and the Covenant of Mayors at a stand with representatives from both initiatives.
During the event local and regional authoritie’s representatives were invited to to share their main expectations towards the new initiative. Please find these short interviews here.