Bonn and North-Rhine Westphalia are preparing for the impacts of climate change

Severe weather events are increasing the world over from flooding in Bangladesh to heat waves across Southern Europe. To better manage the effects of climate change in Germany and abroad, the City of Bonn and the State of North Rhine-Westphalia are monitoring the impacts of climate change and stepping up their adaptation planning and efforts.

At the Cities & Regions Pavilion, Professor Lothar Schrott of the University of Bonn argued that education is key to achieving effective disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation. To this end, the University of Bonn is training a new generation of professionals through their Disaster Management and Risk Governance masters program to employ integrated and interdisciplinary approaches to climate adaptation.

A panel including Jochen Stein, the Chief of the Bonn fire brigade and Professor Clemens Simmer, a meteorologist at the University of Bonn discussed the key elements of disaster management and how these various fields can come together more effectively prepare local governments and their residents for the effects of climate change.

Climate change affects diverse populations and stakeholders need to work together to reduce risk. Professor Jörg Klewer observed:

“So many experts all live in their own ivory tower. To find a solution we have to find a way to communicate with each other. We need to build bridges between of all of these experts. At the end of the day, they will all be sitting at one table to find a solution.”

This means not only breaking down silos between ministries and experts in different fields but also working with peers to develop effective and collaborative strategies.

North-Rhine Westphalia has conducted one of the first studies in Germany seeking to model heat impacts in urban areas throughout the entire federal state. The state is using climate analysis as a tool to cope with the warming climate in the region, and the study aims to provide regional planners with detailed data about the stress areas or cold air corridors so they can create plans that account for a changing climate.

The region has also launched a monitoring program in 2011 to identify the effects of climate change in order to better prepare a response. The data provided through this program allows the region to plan for the impacts of climate on sectors such as tourism. This program is now supported by the Climate Protection Act adopted by the region in 2013, which includes an article on monitoring climate impact.

Through these efforts, the Bonn and North-Rhine Westphalia are preparing for the effects of climate change. They are promoting an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to build resilience in Germany and abroad, working towards a safe and sustainable future.

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