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Climate proofing in investments and spatial planning

Climate proofing in investments and spatial planning


The unprecedented threat of climate change is posing a severe risk for human activities, due to the increasing frequency and magnitude of extreme events. Practitioners in multiple economic sectors, from infrastructural to financial, are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of climate proofing in strategic planning and decision‐making to cope with climate risk. Risk assessment provides essential information for climate proofing as it considers receptors’ vulnerability to climate hazards (e.g. floods, heat waves, etc.) in their given environmental and socio‐economic context, otherwise known as social‐ecological system.

Enel Foundation, together with Venice International University (VIU) and in cooperation with the Euro‐Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change (CMCC), is carrying out a research project focused on a Socio‐Economic Regional Risk Assessment (SERRA) of the Belluno Province, using a multi‐hazard approach that combines classical spatial risk assessment and socio‐economic analysis and valuation, to estimate damages associated with potential risks of different kind and magnitude.

The study aims to identify, qualitatively and quantitatively, the hazards threatening the territory, its production activity, and all those receptors that are directly or indirectly exposed to them, at a residential, industrial, infrastructural, logistical, and productive level. The research will be therefore developed in three phases: qualitative and quantitative exploration of risks; detailed analysis of the territory and the subjects exposed to them; and designation of the systemic risk. Information will be based upon state‐of‐the‐art regional climate simulations and the use of spatial indicators for both the characteristics of the local area and the hazard under consideration.

One of the final objectives is then to endow local administrations, as well as the province’s production system, with a tool based on the analysis of the chosen indexes, able to support decision-making process regarding the management of the territory and potential investments, taking under consideration climate change and possible climate-related external events.

Predictions in the Alpine regions see climate change affecting temperature, precipitation seasonality, global radiation, relative humidity and frequency/intensity of extreme rainfalls and floods in the colder part of the year (Gobiet et al., 2014). In addition, the limited spatial accessibility across mountain areas due to harsh geomorphological gradients may exacerbate the consequences of extreme events, by ruining for example connections between settlements and thus preventing recovery from critical situations. Recent storm damages (among which Vaia in 2018) in the Belluno province, South‐Eastern Alps, provide further evidence of the importance of climate proofing in spatial planning to cope with adverse effects of extreme events, e.g. for ordinary and extra‐ordinary management of infrastructures and to grant access to essential public services i.e. water, electric power, etc.

Research Progress

The information on the territory of the Belluno province gathered during the first phase of data acquisition included the census data (source: ISTAT); tourism statistics (source: SISTAR Veneto); territory information such as soil coverage, altitude and road network (source: GeoPortale della Regione Veneto; EU’s portal Copernicus); localization of buildings and commercial activities/production facilities (source: OpenStreetMap); real estate quotations (source: Agenzia delle Entrate - Osservatorio del Mercato Immobiliare); the historic series of climate information (source: ARPAV Servizio Centro Meteorologico); and aggregatedenergy consumption data (source: ENEL Distribuzione).

After this first phase of consolidation and completion of the database, the definition of the methodologies and its elaboration will follow, so to finalize the archive to use for estimating climate threats and making operational choices in relation to concrete problems of management and planning of the territory.

The application of the SERRA analysis will produce a combination of maps generated for multiple scenarios of climate change, different typologies of external events and alternative sectors, that will later be used to analyse case studies and issues specific to the fields under scrutiny. Among these, there are featured, for example, the risk associated to the disservices of electric energy supply and to the anomalous touristic flows, usual for big events such as Olympiads and ski world competitions.

Once finished, this research will then be shared and published online with GIS function, and given a simple interface for the navigation of different types of users. The database shared will be inter-operable, standard-compliant and accessible with open source software.

Read here the article on the research by Corriere delle Alpi (August 7, 2020) with a special interview to our Managing Director Carlo Papa.