KlimaMORO – Spatial development strategies for climate change (Phase I)

Background and Goals

In order to research and test the specific options for spatial planning for adaptation to climate change, particularly at a regional level, the German Ministry of Transport, Construction and Urban Development (BMVBS: now BMVI) and the Federal Institute of Construction, Urban and Spatial Research (BBSR) in the Federal Office of Construction Spatial Planning (BBR) initiated the model for spatial planning (MORO) project "Spatial development strategies for climate change", KlimaMORO for short.

As part of the model project, climate adaptation strategies will be developed in eight model regions from June 2009 to March 2011 using formal and informal regional planning instruments, and will be tested by taking the first steps towards implementation.

  • In terms of the formal regional planning instruments, the aim was to verify whether the current instruments are sufficient to address climate change adaptation in the regions or whether an extension in the legislation is necessary. In addition, suggestions will be drawn up for developing the existing set of instruments. Essentially, the aim was to contribute to strengthening and making more determined use of the formal instruments.
  • At an informal level, the aim was to strengthen the position of regional planning in regional governance, by setting up regional networks for example. To do this, an appropriate regional mix of instruments is to be selected and used.
  • One of the particular aims is to highlight how formal and informal regional climate adaptation instruments can complement one another and how their interaction with regionally significant specialist planning needs to be developed.
  • Essentially, the model regions need to contribute a willingness to experiment and try out innovative approaches. The deliberate idea was to highlight weaknesses and problems, as a basis for establishing subsequent research requirements in spatial planning.
  • Initial pilot projects in the model regions were designed to illustrate the practical benefits at local level and contribute to a broader awareness in local politics and specialist sectors of the public.

The climate adaptation strategies developed independently by each of the model regions with scientific support were designed to:

  • Be tailored to regional circumstances and anticipated specific regional susceptibility to climate change,
  • Pick up various issues and take account of interactions between different responses, across specialist fields and integrated,
  • Be drawn up in a process involving the relevant players,
  • To be based not only on the risks but actively on the opportunities of climate change,
  • Not to be in conflict with climate protection measures, and
  • Be tested by initial steps towards implementation.

After completion of the model project, the model regions should have developed self-supporting permanent structures.

The eight model regions are:

  • Western Pomerania: In the coastal region, the fields of action were addressed taking account of sea level rises and land loss and the necessary adaptation of land use structures, and possible responses were collated in an integrated spatial development strategy taking account of interactions.
  • Havelland-Fläming: The region concentrated on an informal procedure, creating a platform for discussion between academics and professionals, engaging in publicity work and raising awareness among relevant players.
  • West Saxony: Based on a vulnerability analysis, regionally significant action areas and issues were identified, in which specific questions were studied by experts and projects were initiated with regional players.
  • Upper Elbe Valley / Eastern Erzgebirge: A focus in the region was on working in two sub-regions (integrated rural development regions) to study specific issues in depth and initiate key projects.
  • Central and Southern Hessen: Based on an expert survey and an evaluation of climate change related information from regional plans, consequences for ongoing development of the formal regional planning instruments were derived, local settlement climate action guidelines and a habitat network system concept were drawn up.
  • Central Upper Rhine / Northern Black Forest: The emphasis was on establishing a regional climate change network for the issues of settlement climate and flooding, where the region has high specific vulnerability.
  • Stuttgart region: Based on a vulnerability analysis and a regional climate information system (KISS), discussions led to recommendations and proposed measures being drawn up for the issues of settlement climate, biodiversity and agriculture/forestry.
  • Neumarkt rural district: In the smallest model region, a series of workshops was held to establish an action concept for the issues of settlement climate, agriculture/forestry, conservation and energy.

Content time


Research area/region

  • Germany
Region of implementation (all German federal states)
  • Baden-Württemberg
  • Berlin
  • Hesse
Natural spatial classification
  • Alp and North Bavarian hills
  • Erz Mountains, Thuringian Forest and Bavarian Forest
  • Low mountain ranges left and right of Rhine
  • North-East German lowland
  • South-Eeastern basin and hills
  • Central low mountain ranges and Harz
Spatial resolution 

Vorpommern, Havelland-Fläming, Westsachsen, Oberes Elbtal/Osterzgebirge, Mittlerer Oberrhein/Nordschwarzwald, Region Stuttgart, Landkreis Neumarkt i.d.OPf.

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

The German Meteorological Office (DWD, Senior federal authority in the BMVBS) is providing the required climate data for the KlimaMORO projects as a basis for climate effect estimates. Details of the climate scenarios used can be found in the relevant model projects.

Parameter (climate signals)
  • River flooding
  • Heat waves
  • Altered rainfall patterns
  • Higher average temperatures
  • Sea level rise und storm surges
  • Extreme precipitation (incl. hail, snow)
  • Storm
  • Dry periods
Further Parameters 

water balance, cloud cover, humidity,

Time horizon
  • short term = next year’s / decades
  • medium term = to 2050

Step 2a: Identify and assess risks - climate effects and impact

Approach and results 

The climate effects studied are outlined for the relevant model regions.

Step 2b: Identify and assess risks - Vulnerability, risks and chances

Approach and results 

Comprehensive vulnerability and susceptibility analyses are essential as a basis for assessing climate effects. They are necessary so that:

• Discussions about climate changes and regional impacts can be based on a recognised set of data,

• Pressure to act is created in politics,

• Risk and action areas can be delineated,

• Robust requirements and recommendations for action can be derived, and

• New or existing regional planning designations have a sound technical basis and, above all, have a legally enforceable justification.

The underlying assumptions, the methods used and the results obtained must be communicated to the players involved and to the public in an understandable way, in order to create acceptance for necessary measures and motivation to implement them.

Where binding regional planning targets are to be designated, vulnerability analyses to justify them must be legally sound, i.e. lawful. To achieve this, they must be drawn up clearly and transparently using recognised scientific methods. Otherwise, vulnerability analyses can only be used to define principles or for information, for example to provide information to local communities.

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

The adaptation measures / strategies studied are outlined for the relevant model regions.

Overall Results:

Because of its multi-sectoral and integrative perspective and its wide range of formal and informal instruments, regional planning is potentially an appropriate player for developing and coordinating adaptation strategies and measures in regions. Regional planning can use its formal instruments for climate adaptation, i.e. regional plans with targets (priority areas) that are binding for local planning, and principles (conditional areas) that have to be taken into account in any consideration.

The aim here is to adapt and qualify existing space categories by adapting the designation criteria for the categories to the changed or anticipated conditions (e.g. change in threshold values) with a corresponding change to the regional scenario. In addition, binding spatial planning targets should increasingly be used to improve the effectiveness of regional planning specifications for implementing adaptation strategies. However, they must be justifiable in terms of legal jurisdiction, i.e. lawful. In terms of precautionary planning, conditional areas should also be designated, with a limited control and restriction impact to reflect the uncertainties in the climate scenarios and the vulnerability assessments. Depending on climate trends or advances in specialist knowledge, they can be upgraded to priority areas at the appropriate time.

In addition, the area categories and notation symbols for adaptation to climate change can be extended, particularly to informatively represent potential risks. For example, areas at risk of flash flooding, flood risk areas, infrastructure under threat from extreme weather or climate comfort islands can be identified in the regional plan.

Time horizon
  • 2011–2040 (near future)
  • 2021–2050 (near future)
  • 2036–2065
  • 2051–2080 (far future)
  • 2071–2100 (far future)

Step 4: Plan and implement measures

Measures and/or strategies 

Realised measures / strategies are outlined for the relevant model regions (see references).

One of the major focus areas is the control effect of regional planning on existing settlements. For example, priority areas for flood protection can extend into existing settlements, therefore it is vital to take into account the fact that compensation obligations can arise if there is no genuine risk. Therefore, designations must be clear and have a lawful justification. In addition, regional planning can inform politicians where there are risks in existing settlements

The use of formal regional planning instruments requires intensive preparation and must be accompanied by the entire range of informal instruments. However, regional planning may not limit itself to informal governance alone; the informal instruments must be followed by formal designations to ensure that the regional planning structure is effective.

As an interdisciplinary player in the governance process, regional planning can play an important role as a coordinator, information provider, supporter and mediator. This should be based on existing networks, supplemented by relevant players, while the local level should be incorporated to improve implementation capability. The process must also be accompanied by a targeted information strategy for politicians and the public.

Coordination with significant regional specialist planning is of major importance. Starting points include use and coordination of a shared database, coordination of methods and concepts, development of shared scenarios, coordination of regional vulnerability analyses and joint update and feedback periods.


Funding / Financing 

Ministry of Transport, Construction and Urban Development (BMVBS) and Federal Institute of Construction, Urban and Spatial Research (BBSR)

Project management 

Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) within the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning (BBR), Division I 5: Transport and Environment


National research assistance (Nationale Forschungsassistenz, FoA):

  • Raum & Energie, Institut für Planung, Kommunikation und Prozessmanagement GmbH;
  • Institut für Stadtbauwesen und Stadtverkehr (ISB) of RWTH Aachen University;
  • Justus Liebig University Giessen, Department of Georaphy;

Raum & Energie
Institut für Planung, Kommunikation und Prozessmanagement GmbH
Hafenstraße 39
22880 Wedel

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Fields of action:
 agriculture  biological diversity  building sector  coastal and marine protection  energy sector  human health  spatial, regional and urban land use planning  tourism industry  transport, transport infrastructure  water regime, water management  woodland and forestry