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Planning in a Changing Climate

Image of a butterfly, den haag beach and windowsThis area of the website will give you access to the final outputs of the ESPACE project from work undertaken between September 2003 and June 2007.

'Planning in a Changing Climate' is the final project strategy of PART I that aims to influence the philosophy and practice of spatial planning by recommending how adaptation to climate change can be incorporated.

The strategy contains a set of 14 recommendations that are complemented by a series of case studies, tools and examples of policy advice developed by the ESPACE Partnership.

Hampshire County Council logoThe final strategy, policy guidance, tools and case studies were developed in close collaboration with Acclimatise.


Why adaptation to climate change must be addressed in spatial planning

We now know that man-made climate change has been underway since the mid-20th century and is having significant effects around the world. IPCC - Climate Change 2007.

Mitigation measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are essential if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Yet, however successful we are at reducing emissions, we will have to deal with many decades of climate change, due to emissions that we have already put into the climate system. We need to start adapting today to these changing conditions, to ensure our social, economic and environmental systems are best-prepared for the unavoidable impacts and are able to take advantage of any opportunities.

Spatial planning mediates between competing demands on the way land is managed and used. While some uncertainty remains over the exact impacts of climate change, it has the potential to be so significant that it will challenge our basic assumptions on the availability of land and its uses over the medium and long term. The Stern Review on the economics of climate change highlighted the crucial role of spatial planning in facilitating climate adaptation and emphasised that adaptation should be integrated into planning at every level. With climate change underway and future change unavoidable, all professional advice and political decisions must now take climate change into account.

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What we mean by spatial planning

This strategy uses the following definition of spatial planning:

“Spatial planning is a process that assimilates and interprets evidence-based knowledge to inform those activities that aim to ensure spatial development takes place in an appropriate, sustainable way, from a functional, social, economic and environmental point of view.”

We take a broad view of spatial planning, encompassing spatial planning professionals and those whose activities have a spatial planning dimension, such as managers of water, health, transport, design, agriculture and regeneration issues. The strategy therefore presents messages aimed at organisations and individuals involved in spatial planning, including politicians, who are the ultimate decision-makers in the policy-making process.

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Focus of the ESPACE project

Recognising the vital role of spatial planning in enabling society to adapt to climate change, the ESPACE project aims to change the philosophy and practice of spatial planning.

ESPACE has focused on managing climate change impacts on spatial planning for water management, including:

  • flooding – coastal, estuarine and riverine,
  • water resources,
  • water quality.

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©2007 ESPACE Project
Top photo credit: TU-Berlin, PIK, Marc Zebisch,Marc.zebisch@eurac.edu
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