Resilience & adaptation strategies

Use these guidelines to:

Prioritize climate adaptation measures for cities and enhance communication systems for stakeholder participation

Cities must adapt to increasing climate impacts. There are many adaptation strategies, formed by sets of measures, available to cope with them. However, counting with limited resources and urgent need of action, it is important to set an implementation order that is consistent with the context of each city.

A methodological framework to prioritize adaptation measures is presented here. It builds upon the research carried out in the RESCCUE project, offering flexible policy tools for all types of cities.

Furthermore, these guidelines offer city officials practical guidance on how to increase urban resilience by enhancing their communication systems. A related action plan was developed based on lessons learnt by Barcelona, Lisbon and Bristol.

5 steps to your solution:

What is your city concern?
What benefits would you achieve?
What is your city’s status?
What should you do?
What can you use?

What is your concern?

What are the most prominent impacts in your city?
Select the most pressing climate impacts that affect you

Pluvial floods
Fluvial floods
Coastal floods

Focus to services-oriented adaptation strategies

Different approaches can be considered when addressing the potential adaptation strategies. In RESCCUE, the focus is on improving the resilience of urban services, from an infrastructure operability perspective. Although these strategies have the welfare of citizens on the spotlight, the assessment of purely social-oriented strategies are not in the scope. It has been designed to downselect from a first rapid exercise the top measures that would deserve further analysis, avoiding the use of unnecessary resources of analysts and researchers.

The key variables involved in the prioritization of measures are the life-cycle cost, the potential city’s recovery time reduction, and the co-benefits that they can provide. Furthermore, climate risks reduction criteria are essential in this methodology.

Pluvial flood risks
Example of Pluvial flood risks considered for the case study of Barcelona.

Citizens: reduction of high risks

People’s safety (pedestrians & vehicles stability) 

Property and vehicles: reduction of EAD* 

Direct damages to buildings & vehicle
Indirect damages to businesses 

*EAD = Expected Annual Damage

Waste sector: reduction of number of unstable containers

Solid waste containers stability 

What benefits would you achieve?

A flexible and comprehensive adaptation measures prioritization methodology

The proposed methodology is flexible and comprehensive in equal measure, which allows to be replicated in cities even with limited data availability.

Flexible approach to prioritise adaptation measures in any city

Different impacts and risks assessments have been considered in the three cities, where the flexibility of the proposed methodology has been proven.

A roadmap to enhance communication

A rigorous document has been developed which is broken down into three main stages: a theoretical framework, a practical guidance and a final section related to cities’ practices. The lessons learnt by Barcelona, Bristol and Lisbon have been gathered in order to support other cities.

Take a look at the graphic below to see how the strategies to cope with climate impacts were identified in Lisbon.

RESCCUE solves your problems
This is how!

What is your city’s status?

What are the consequences that usually occur during and after a climate impact?
Injuries and fatalities of residents.
Urban services failure and cascading effects.
All of the previous ones and even more.
Business closure and more.

How is the city maturity in terms of addressing climate impacts?
Addressing climate impacts is not included in the City Council agenda.
A climate plan is being elaborated.
A climate plan is currently available

Who are the main stakeholders?
City Council.
Supramunicipal organizations.
Utilities operators.
All of them and even more.

It is important to characterize properly the problem, identify the key actors, and above all, do not start from scratch if previous work is already done.

What can you use?

Adaptation strategies web-platform
Select measures from the database and create specific strategies for your city.
Add new measures to create specific strategies for your city

Methodology to prioritize measures
Stage-based method to narrow down measures selection.
Combination of technical and economic impact assessment.
Stakeholder engagement for significant results

What should you do?

Find existing or ongoing climate plans

In them the climate risks are addressed and adaptation strategies (and the measures that form them) are proposed.

List the strategies and their related measures

Prepare the list without considering restrictions such as financial.

Select the most significant measures and group them for further analysis

These groups, called adaptation scenarios, may be prioritized according to the results of a more detailed analysis.

Define the scope of the strategies

Mitigation and/or adaptation. Social and/or urban services oriented.

Estimate the cost and the city recovery time

With this information, measures can be prioritized. If not available, take an approximation from previous similar case studies

What can you use?

Stability for pedestrians
Stability for vehiclesns
1(A) 49.0(E) 10.7(B) 40.5(A) 99%(A) 99.0%
2(B) 43.0(C) 11.8(A) 40.0(D) 79%(B) 90.4%
3(C) 41.9(D) 11.9(D) 39.7(C) 79%(C) 90.2%
4(D) 41.7(B) 12.6(C) 39.1(B) 77%(D) 87.2%
5(E) 23.7(A) 24.4(E) 23.6(E) 34%(E) 45.0%
*Adaptation scenario (M€/yr)

Resilience and adaptation scenarios experts:

Several RESCCUE partners worked together under the leadership of Cetaqua to characterize the city’s problems and propose a list of strategies which measures had to be prioritized for Barcelona, Lisbon and Bristol:

–  Cetaqua (Water Technology Centre)
–  Aquatec
– Suez Advanced Solutions
–  University of Exeter
–  LNEC (Laboratório Nacional de Engenharia Civil)
–  Ajuntament de Barcelona

–  IREC (Catalonia Institute for Energy Research)
–  UN-Habitat
–  Câmara Municipal de Lisboa
– EDP Distribuiçao Energia
– Hidra
– Bristol City Council
– Wessex Water

– Urban DNA
– AdP (Águas de Portugal, SPGS)
– AdTA (Águas do Tejo Atlântico)

Cetaqua, Water Technology Centre, was responsible for developing a measures and strategies web-based platform, together with the proposal of a methodology to prioritize adaptation measures.

Cetaqua represents a pioneering collaborative model among the sectors of public scientific institution, university and water company. This model has been established as a European benchmark in the application of scientific knowledge to water and the environment. Cetaqua’s mission is to anticipate society’s needs to propose new R&D&I solutions in order to ensure the sustainability and efficiency of the water cycle, while taking local needs into account.

Expert contact info:

Cetaqua Barcelona
08940 – Cornellà de Llobregat
Phone number: +34 933 12 48 00

Tools & Results


Tool and database for the selection of adaptation strategies

Resilience & adaptation strategies


A prioritization methodology has been developed to rank the proposed climate adaptation measures. This methodology will assist to decision makers to select the most efficient measures in terms of both their costs and the degree of risk reduction that they can guarantee. Besides, the methodology has been integrated into a web-based platform that will assist the decision makers to conduct the process of prioritization. The platform includes an extensive database of adaptation measures gathered by the different project partners based on their experience in the three cities that act as case studies in the project (Barcelona, Bristol and Lisbon)