Municipalities are the local governments usually in charge of a city, town, village or a collection of these. Depending on the country they are located in, they tend to be responsible for local city development and maintenance, mobility, tourism, education, health, social regulation, and local tax collection.
Due to their strong local position, they carry a great responsibility when it comes to climate adaptation. Being responsible for the public space, they map local risks and develop policy for the tackling of challenges in the areas of water, drought and heat. Municipalities play a pivotal role in directing climate adaptive city design in collaboration with their inhabitants, business and water authorities. They can ensure that all new building projects, redevelopments, but also infrastructure and public services become climate resillient. Municipalities can thereby act as regulators and enablers. They design and maintain public space, can stimulate the gathering and sharing of knowledge on climate adaptation, and can ensure cooperation between different stakeholders through organising events such as workshops and information days.
In these projects, they work together with the water authorities, developers, sewage treatment, business, citizens, fire department, housing corporations, provincial/national governments, consultants and research/educational institutes.
The biggest challenge of municipalities is their own organisational structure. The different departments are each responsible for different tasks. Cooperation between these departments is therefore often difficult due rigid institutional cultures and differences in interests. It could therefore help to work towards co-beneficial solutions. Instead of planning a project for only one end, it could instead be aimed at multiple issues. A park can for example serve to both increase the living quality of the city inhabitants, and act as a climate adaptive measure simultaneously.
Costs being another important consideration, municipalities could opt for adopting smaller changes over time. Instead of sudden drastic changes and projects, municipal maintenance could instead apply climate adaptive measures to whatever is in need of repair or replacement. Additionally, municipalities can be consulted on the benefits of climate adaptive design. Often local governments fear that more green will cost the city more maintenance. In reality, more flora and fauna could in fact reduce costs in the long run due to fewer damages from heat and water. It is therefore important to make climate adaptive measures measurable. Currently, a good overview is missing in many local governments. Better data gathering and analysis could therefore increase confidence in the effectiveness of climate adaptive measures.
To get municipalities to work with climate adaptation it is thus important to strive for internal cooperation through co-beneficial solutions, and to increase knowledge through the help of consultants and measuring tools. With a lack of perspective and a fear of financial risk gone, municipalities can feel more confident in ensuring a climate adaptive city in unison with their other concerns such as quality of life, mobility and an aesthetic city.