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Reconciling Adaptation, Mitigation and Sustainable Development for citiES (RAMSES)

The RAMSES project is delivering quantified evidence of the impacts of climate change and the costs and benefits of a wide range of adaptation measures, focusing on cities.
Introduction to the RAMSES project


For those interested in and working on climate adaptation and/or urban resilience in cities, RAMSES is a project worth watching and learning with or from. The main aim of the RAMSES project is to deliver quantified evidence of the impacts of climate change and the costs and benefits of a wide range of adaptation measures, focusing on cities.

RAMSES is engaging with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure this information is policy relevant and ultimately enables the design and implementation of adaptation strategies in cities of the EU and beyond. Ultimately, RAMSES intends to provide the evidence basis that leads to reduced adaptation costs, as well as better understanding and acceptance of adaptation measures in cities. RAMSES is a European Integrated Project, co-financed by the European Commission in the 7th Framework Programme, that started in October 2012 and runs until September 2017.

About the project

The RAMSES project builds upon case study cities, which are grouped into focal and supportive cities. The focal cities, namely Antwerp, London and Bilbao, serve as exemplary sites for the development and application of tools and methods developed within the project. The supportive cities serve for testing individual tools and analysis for transferability. These are Bogotá, Hyderabad, New York, Rio De Janeiro and Skopje.

The RAMSES consortium is composed of 13 partners made up of leading European scientific institutions, an international organisation and three SMEs involved in the assessment of climate modelling, impact assessment, adaptation and cost assessment. The partners are: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; London School of Economics and Political Science; Newcastle University & Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research; Flemish Institute for Technological Research; University of Versailles (UVSQ); TECNALIA Research & Innovation – Energy and Environment; Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU); World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe; T6 Ecosystem s.r.l.; ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, European Secretariat; Seneca Consultants sprl; Climate Media Factory UG; and Institut Veolia Environnement.

Lessons Learnt

Some key findings emerging from the project include:

  1. An extended assessment of over 500 European cities shows that many cities in Europe face increased climate-related risks. An EU-wide assessment of key vulnerabilities and climate risks has provided new insights into which regions will be most acutely at risk in future as a result of climate change.
  2. The heat burden in cities is expected to increase tenfold by the end of the century. The effects of heat waves are exacerbated by soil sealing and by urban spatial design, while they can be relieved by city greening measures, awareness-raising and behavioural change, especially among the most vulnerable urban populations.
  3. When the sea level rises, damage costs to cities rise even faster. The RAMSES project developed a new methodology that can estimate the damages resulting from sea level rise in over 140 European coastal cities. Appropriate adaptation measures protecting cities from coastal flooding can provide significant savings on damage costs.
  4. New methodologies can help provide much-needed evidence of the costs of climate change and the costs and benefits of adaptation measures. RAMSES has developed transferable economic methodologies that calculate estimated production loss costs from climate hazards, as well as health damage costs. These show the vulnerability of different economic sectors to climate change and the key causes of production losses.
  5. Heat-related productivity losses depend on a city’s economic structure. Research showed that the magnitude of temperature increase is not the only factor determining the extent of productivity loss due to intense heat, but the sector structure is also relevant.

See the RAMSES Project Policy Brief No. 2 (June 2016) for more details on the points above and RAMSES Results for a full list of outputs.

Also, it is worth exploring ‘On urban resilience’, an audio-visual feast of European perspectives on what urban resilience is and how to build it, produced through the RAMSES project. Not only is there rich content, but the format is novel and engaging, with options to either consume a predetermined storyline (i.e. sequence of being shown all the snippets of content) or to navigate your own way through the content, choosing which interviews and videos you wish to watch. Definitely a refreshing departure from, and complement to, dense written reports!

Finally, it is interesting to note many parallels between the RAMSES project and the FRACTAL project, also featured on weADAPT. While both are international initiatives focussed on enhancing the science-policy interface in cities addressing climate change, RAMSES is primarily European based and oriented, while FRACTAL is primarily African based and oriented, giving rise to some notable and productive differences in terms of conceptual framing, the modes of engagement and the climate-sensitive urban issues that provide focal points for the learning.

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