HUE-4: Adaptation to climate change at municipal authority level

The picture shows a building clad in clinker bricks with the inscription Rathaus.Click to enlarge
Municipalities require support and assistance in planning and implementing adaptation measures.
Source: Photograph: © coastoak /

2019 Monitoring Report on the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change

Table of Contents


HUE-4: Adaptation to climate change at municipal authority level

Federal Government has supported municipalities, towns and districts, for example via the NKI (2011-2018) and the DAS programme for the generation of concepts and the implementation of measures ensuring good adaptation. The funding awarded by those programmes has increased. By contrast, the proportion of survey respondents giving a favourable answer to the question whether their municipal authorities were sufficiently engaged in adaptation had clearly declined.

The stacked column graph shows for 2012, 2014 and 2016 the percentage of respondents on their assessment of whether the level of precautionary measures at the municipal level is sufficient.
HUE-4: Adaptation to climate change at municipal authority level

The stack column graph shows for 2012, 2014 and 2016 the percentage of respondents on their assessment of whether the scope of precautionary measures at the municipal level is sufficient. There are the categories fully sufficient, rather sufficient, rather not sufficient, not sufficient at all and from 2014 the category don't know, which was taken up by about 10 percent in 2014 and about 112 percent in 2016. The proportion of those who were positive fell below the 50 per cent mark from 2014 and was only around 30 per cent in 2016. Above all, the share of those who do not find the preventive measures at all sufficient has increased significantly and amounted to about 18 percent in 2016.

Source: BMU & UBA (Umweltbewusstsein in Deutschland); Projektträger Jülich (statistics on funded projects)

Municipalities are important stakeholders

Municipalities are key players in the adaptation to climate change, as many impacts of climate change materialise at the local level. Accordingly, measures have to be developed and implemented in co-operation with municipalities. Some of these are for example measures in connection with urban greening and settlement developments as well as the adaptation of urban infrastructure or precautionary measures in the building sector. However, the adaptation to climate change as a municipal task is a relatively new and not yet well recognised action area in Germany. Federal Government therefore attaches great importance to supporting municipalities in the adaptation process.

It is currently not possible to present a general overview of the way in which Federal Government provides assistance to municipalities in these tasks. However, the award of funding in connection with two major municipal promotional programmes reflects at least part of the Federal Government’s commitment. Within the framework of the Nationale Klimaschutzinitiative (NKI/ National Climate Initiative – NCI) Federal Government has, since 2011, assisted the generation of municipal adaptation concepts. Within the framework of the municipality guideline, municipalities or municipal associations were able to apply for funding for the generation of municipal adaptation concepts; while for the implementation of their adaptation concept they were able to apply for the assistance of an adaptation manager.

The concepts are used by municipalities as strategic planning and decision-making tools, they help to identify the demand for adaptation, make statements on the participation of relevant players, and indicate options for action at a local level. Between 2011 and 2017 a total of 39 towns and districts received funding awards amounting to just short of 1.6 million Euros for generating adaptation concepts. During the same period, the implementation of two partial adaptation concept themes were supported. The total outflow of funds within the framework of the municipality guideline in the period 2012 to 2017 amounted to approximately 359 million Euros. The proportion of funding benefiting adaptation concepts is rather negligible. One reason for this is that NKI cannot be used to take any investment-related and thus expensive adaptation measures. Since the beginning of 2019, funding opportunities have again been restricted solely to activities relating to climate protection.

Since 2012, measures for the adaptation to climate change are also supported within the framework of the DAS programme entitled ‘Promotion of Measures for Adaptation to Impacts of Climate Change’ operated by the BMU. This promotion is intended to strengthen the adaptability, especially at the local and regional level, by means of initiatives for awareness-raising, dialogue and participation as well as networking and the co-operation of regional or local stakeholders. Municipal initiatives relating to adaptation are assisted in particular with regard to two of three focal areas of the programme. On one hand, Federal Government creates stimuli for companies to generate adaptation concepts; this approach explicitly includes companies with municipal responsibilities. However, the promotion of adaptation concepts is an opportunity which municipal companies have not been taking up. So far not one municipal company has generated an adaptation concept. On the other hand, it is essential to promote municipal flagship projects and inter-municipal or regional joint ventures with the objective to develop partnerships, generate adaptation concepts and to implement these as pilot projects. In the period 2012 to 2017, the Federal Government awarded funds totalling just short of 9.2 million Euros for municipal flagship projects. This promotional tool has been financed for more than six years and, going forward, its financial base is to be increased gradually.

The two programmes do not convey a comprehensive picture of investments in municipalities’ adaptation concepts and processes, because municipalities had many other opportunities to obtain finance. These include promotional programmes such as KLIMZUG (see above) and KlimaMORO (pilot project ’spatial development strategies and climate change’) which are focused on research activities and have meanwhile terminated. EU funding for structural projects is another opportunity to obtain funding for municipal adaptation projects. As far as operational implementation measures in connection with promotional programmes are concerned, the management of climate change impacts is just an ancillary objective which – although influencing the design of the measures concerned – is not usually an element of calculation which can be extricated from the total amount of funding. In addition, there are various Länder programmes or Länder promotions. At the municipal level it is of particular importance to ensure the inclusion of citizens in discussions on what can be considered as good adaptation and on the actual implementation of measures. A prerequisite of civic engagement in this process is that the municipalities concerned take a pro-active approach, for instance by giving citizens a platform for discussion and participation and by setting an example in providing good implementation projects for adaptation purposes.

Since 2012, the representative survey ‘Environmental Awareness in Germany’ (Umweltbewusstsein in Deutschland)I citizens have been asked to state whether they consider that the authorities in the urban or municipal environment they inhabit have addressed the adaptation theme sufficiently and whether, in their opinion, the authorities are taking adequate precautionary measures. While in 2012, 58 % (the majority) of respondents answered this favourably, by 2014 this proportion had diminished to 41 %, and by 2016, the proportion had declined to only 30 % which is just a third of respondents.

I - see footnote p. 247



HUE-3: Federal grants for promoting research projects on climate change impacts and adaptation



In view of the fact that in most cases, adaptation has to be carried out at regional or local level, decisions have to be made at municipal or district levels. (DAS, ch. 5.2)