nordwest2050 – Prospects for Climate-Adapted Innovation Processes in the Model Region Bremen-Oldenburg in North Western Germany

Background and Goals

This practice-oriented research project aims to increase the ability of the metropolitan region Bremen-Oldenburg to deal with climate change in selected fields and to implement measures into regional planning and development processes.

In cooperation with the regional stakeholders a "roadmap of change" regarding climate-adapted innovations in key economic sectors of the North West region of Germany will be developed, tested and documented in order to serve as a model for other regions. This is also part of the development of a long-term, strategic plan to increase the adaptability of the entire region. In addition to the competitiveness of the region the transferability of knowledge and innovations is important within this project.

The project aims at medium- and long-term adaptation strategies for economy sectors and infrastructures in the metropolitan region of Bremen-Oldenburg, which are affected by climate change and which are at the same time of crucial economic importance for the entire region. These are the port and transport industry and logistics, energy and the food and luxury food industry.

The consequences of climate change cannot be limited to direct regional impacts for coastal and port regions. The global transport routes, the international flow of goods and the supply of raw materials of the regional economy will also be affected comprehensively. With respect to the profound interconnections it will not be sufficient to prepare for regional expectable and predictable impacts. It will be rather decisive to be able to improve the regional responsiveness and flexibility fundamentally under uncertain conditions.

Two types of innovations for climate change adaptation will be developed within the project:

1. Technological innovations: These must be designed flexible enough to be adaptable to changing framework conditions.

2. Organizational and institutional innovations: They need to enable a development of long-term, integrated perspectives and thus to overcome the structural deficits of short political cycles, sectoral orientation and responsive perspective.

Based on an analysis of the vulnerabilities and the potential for innovations, a regional and three sectoral roadmapping processes will be triggered which then result in defined innovation paths. The results of four working areas will be incorporated into the sectoral roadmaps:

    1. Within the framework of the vulnerability analysis the importance of climate change for the region and its economy will be clarified.
    2. The analysis of potential for innovations studies the climate change responding skills and potentials in the three economic clusters and the region
    3. The working filed "Governance" investigates to which extent the regional existing cooperation and decision-making processes are suitable to implement climate change adaptation measures.
    4. The innovation pathways constitutes the practical core: by 2014 concrete exemplary climate change adaptation projects will be jointly developed and implemented with practice partners.

Content time

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Research area/region

Country
  • Germany
Region of implementation (all German federal states)
  • Bremen
  • Lower Saxony
Natural spatial classification
  • coasts: North Sea-/Baltic Sea coasts
  • North-West German lowland
Spatial resolution 

Metropolitan Region Bremen-Oldenburg

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

Two climate scenarios will be developed within this project: the so-called nordwest2050 climate scenarios. They include the requirements of all project partners concerning the temporal and spatial differentiation of relevant climate parameters. Current global and regional climate projections provide the basis for the scenarios, which are consolidated in close cooperation with the Climate Service Center 2.0. An ensemble approach is being pursued.

Expected climate change impacts for northwest Germany are such as:

    • Increase of average air temperature of almost 3°C in 100 years
    • Increasingly warmer and wetter winters
    • Hotter and dryer summers
    • Increasing probability of extreme heat waves during summer
    • Intensification of heat island effect in cities
    • Increasing probability of extreme heavy precipitation in particular during winter and spring
    • Increase in winter precipitation of up to 20%
    • Increase in wind speeds on average by 3,8% with essentially unchanged mean direction
    • Increase in storm events and number of storm days on the coast
    • Rise in sea level, the mean high tide, the water levels by wind surge effects and the storm surge water levels
Parameter (climate signals)
  • River flooding
  • Heat waves
  • Altered rainfall patterns
  • Higher average temperatures
  • Sea level rise und storm surges
  • Low water
  • Extreme precipitation (incl. hail, snow)
  • Storm
  • Dry periods
Further Parameters 

Characteristic days for temperature and precipitation; climatic water balance, sunshine and cloud cover, tidal levels, etc

Time horizon
  • short term = next year’s / decades
  • medium term = to 2050
  • long term = to 2100 and beyond

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

Approach and results 

Climate change impacts will be different on global and regional level. Due to the accelerated sea-level rise and increased storm surges the northwest region of Germany with its North Sea coast including the Weser estuary, will be strongly affected by the climate change.

This research project focuses on the direct climate impacts in northwestern Germany on the one hand, on the other hand to those effects that have an impact on the region through its worldwide network. Possible consequences are such as shifts in markets, risks of raw material supply for industries (food and luxury food industry) and changes of transport routes. These shall be analyzed and operationalized by assuming different possible scenarios or development paths. It must be assumed that interference, failures and so on cannot always be prevented. 

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

Approach and results 

The climate change impacts exacerbate the demands on the adaptability of socioeconomic and technical systems. An important first step within this project was therefore to analyze the vulnerability, of each of the affected socio-economic and technical systems regarding the climate change.

In addition to an appropriate alignment of regional economic structures and technical base systems, it will be analyzed as well how to increase the responsiveness to shifts at the global level which are currently not predictable. With a view to more dynamic framework conditions it is therefore also important to make the systems more adaptable and therefore more resilient.

Following the IPCC vulnerability is considered as a function of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity. Resilience is considered as part of the innovation potential analysis.

Urgency and priorization of adaptation needs 

The vulnerability analysis carried out has shown that climate change in the metropolitan region Bremen-Oldenburg is expected to be manageable at least in a medium-term perspective (2050). In most sectors, the vulnerability is low or medium. On the one hand, this is based on the fact that there will be comparatively moderate climate change for the region (with the exception of extreme events), resulting in rather low to medium-high impacts. Secondly, the regional social adaptive capacity is assessed as medium to high.

Due to fast rising water levels the vulnerability however is expected to be high for coastal protection in the long term (2100), as previous adaptation strategies may reach their limits. The vulnerability concerning the nature conservation is expected as medium to high due to limited natural adaptability, unstoppable shifting of species distribution and changing habitats as well as fixed protection objectives. Regarding the port industry a medium to high vulnerability is assessed which is in particular caused by critical infrastructures such as roads, railways and waterways. There are special vulnerabilities in the energy sector regarding the biomass production and in the field of power supply with an increasing share of renewable energies. Value chains in the food industry are generally expected to be low to medium vulnerable.

The vulnerability can be increased if on the one hand high damages caused by extreme weather events occur more frequent and simultaneously (which is hardly assessable currently) and when on the other hand conflicts and risks intensify in the region due to complex interactions between the adaptation needs.

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

Based on an analysis of the vulnerabilities and the potential for innovations, a regional and several sectoral roadmapping processes will be triggered which then result in defined innovation paths. The results of four working areas will be incorporated into the sectoral roadmaps:

    1. Within the framework of the vulnerability analysis the importance of climate change for the region and its economy will be clarified.
    2. The analysis of potential for innovations studies the climate change responding skills and potentials in the three economic clusters and the region
    3. The working filed "Governance" investigates to which extent the regional existing cooperation and decision-making processes are suitable to implement climate change adaptation measures.
    4. The innovation pathways constitutes the practical core: by 2014 concrete exemplary climate change adaptation projects will be jointly developed and implemented with practice partners.

The analysis of potential for innovations examines the skills and potentials that exist in the region or individual business clusters to address selected problems, to develop climate-adapted innovations and to possibly generate future markets by the region itself. The objective is to analyze and elaborate the regional technology and innovation potential in view of the northwest region and the three business clusters.

Time horizon
  • 2036–2065
  • 2071–2100 (far future)
More time information and explanations 

The "Roadmap of Change" focus on 2050

Conflicts / synergies / sustainability 

Due to the potential impact of climate change in the metropolitan region Bremen-Oldenburg, there will adaptation measures be necessary in the coastal, the rural and the urban areas. This means additional land requirements which can lead to conflicting objectives and land use competition between different sectoral interests. Thus the necessary and already initiated climate change adaptation in coastal protection will cause  intensified conflicts with for example the municipal-, commercial- and industrial land development, the development of infrastructure (roads, port facilities, etc.), nature conservation, agriculture and tourism in coastal and estuarine areas.

In rural areas, the increasing production of biomass for energetically use can be conflicting with the objectives of sustainable food production and (global) food security. In cities, trade-offs can get worse between a compact and thus emission reducing settlement development and the adequate open space development to ensure urban heat island effects.

Step 4: Plan and implement measures

Measures and/or strategies 

nordwest2050 will develop a coordinated "Roadmap of Change" regarding climate-adapted innovations in the three economic sectors energy, food industry, port management/logistics and in nine sectors as well. Special importance was attached to the dialogue with stakeholders in the region. Partners from the corporate practice, relevant institutions and regional networks will be involved from the beginning in order to develop a common understanding of practical solutions. The implementation of a regional climate change adaptation strategy can only be successful if there is a broad support in the region. The broadly based stakeholder process, thus ensures a long-term strategic perspective for adaptive innovations and their connectivity beyond the region.

Concrete adjustment measures will be developed within the following innovative paths:

    • Adaptive Governance structures
    • Resilient energy infrastructures
    • Low Energy solutions
    • Broadening of the resources by generating and revitalization of old/new breeds, varieties and species
    • Processing and communicating of differentiated qualities in the food industry
    • Development of a process strategy for land use conflicts
    • Resilient port and logistics infrastructure

Adaptation measures will be evaluated as part of the analysis of potential for innovations according to the criteria areas of innovation, climate change adaptation, feasibility and multiplier effect. So-called innovation candidates which are particularly promising measures and relevant for 'nordwest2050' will be implemented jointly with partners.

Participants

Funding / Financing 

Federal Ministry of Education and Research  (BMBF) - research priority: "KLIMZUG – Managing climate change in the regions for the future "

Project management 

Metropolitan Region Bremen-Oldenburg in the Northwest e.V. and Sustainability Center Bremen

Cooperation/Partners 

Metropolitan Region Bremen-Oldenburg in the Northwest e.V.;
Sustainability Center Bremen (econtur gGmbH, Ecolo GbR);
University of Bremen;
University of Oldenburg;
University of Applied Sciences Bremen;
CENTOS - Oldenburg Center for Sustainability Economics and Management;
BioConsult Schuchardt & Scholle GbR;
Center for Integrative Environmental Research, University of Maryland

Contact

Sustainability Center Bremen
Jakobistraße 20
D-28195 Bremen

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Fields of action:
 agriculture  biological diversity  building sector  civil protection  coastal and marine protection  energy sector  fishery  human health  industry and commerce  soil  spatial, regional and urban land use planning  tourism industry  transport, transport infrastructure  water regime, water management  cross sectoral