Working group Climate Change and Spatial Planning

Background and Goals

The Academy for Spatial Research and Planning (ARL) researches the effects of human activity on the environment and analyses the options for sustainable spatial development. This is achieved through an interdisciplinary network of experts from the academic sphere and from the business, social, ecological and cultural sectors. The ARL working group on "Climate change and spatial planning" deals with the consequences and challenges of climate change for spatial planning.

The objective is to answer the question of the areas in which it is necessary and possible for planning to take account of climate change. This is done by arranging the predicted effects of climate change and of climate protection measures and analysing them in terms of their relevance for spatial planning. Based on this, the existing instruments in spatial planning will be investigated to ascertain the opportunities they present for incorporating adaptation measures and climate protection. The issue of difficulties and barriers that arise when implementing adaptation or climate protection measures in spatial planning is also dealt with. The objective is also to develop awareness in policy and practical spatial planning for the necessity of taking account of both climate protection and adaptation strategies for climate change, as well as to highlight the opportunities and limits for planning action. In addition, specific recommended actions will be drawn up for planning practice.

Content time

Research area/region

  • Germany
Region of implementation (all German federal states)
  • Baden-Württemberg
  • Bavaria
  • Berlin
  • Brandenburg
  • Bremen
  • Hamburg
  • Hesse
  • Mecklenburg Western Pomerania
  • Lower Saxony
  • Northrhine-Westphalia
  • Rhineland Palatinate
  • Saarland
  • Saxony
  • Saxony-Anhalt
  • Schleswig-Holstein
  • Thuringia

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

No reference to a specific climate scenario

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

Approach and results 

Initially, all climate effects relevant to spatial planning; subsequently limitation to particular sectors/area

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

Approach and results 

The emphasis is on the fact that spatial planning - as integrative and supra-local planning as part of an adaptation policy - must involve vulnerability and risk assessments for at-risk areas, link these assessments with spatial adaptation capacities and develop adaptation measures. Spatial planning can thus contribute to reducing vulnerability and risks. Spatial planning is therefore an interdisciplinary strategic task that precedes individual technical decisions and, as a result, has responsibility for overall planning coordination.

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

The existing spatial planning instruments will be analysed in terms of how they deal with climate protection and climate change, as well as actual implementation in planning projects.


Funding / Financing 

Financing by the Academy for Spatial Research and Planning

Project management 

Academy of Spatial Research and Planning


Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Institute for Environment and Human Security, United Nations University, Bonn; Leibniz Institute for Ecological and Regional Development e.V.


Academy of Spatial Research and Planning (ARL)
Hohenzollernstrasse 11
D-30161 Hannover

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Fields of action:
 agriculture  biological diversity  industry and commerce  tourism industry  water regime and water management  woodland and forestry