28 June 2022

Cities and regions take the next steps towards climate change adaptation and urban resilience together

Urban resilience, climate change adaptation, and disaster management are deeply intertwined topics, all of which are critically important in the face of ongoing climate crisis. Cities and regions across Europe are working hard to foster resilience and adaptation, and are keen to access knowledge and experiences to help them in this venture.

For almost a decade, city representatives, experts and stakeholders at the local and regional levels have come together at the European Urban Resilience Forum (EURESFO) to reflect and strategise on local climate adaptation, urban resilience, and disaster management. The unique event has provided a platform for governments from across Europe and abroad to explore opportunities for action and collaboration. EURESFO will convene once again on 14-15 September 2022.

EURESFO is a European initiative driven by ICLEI Europe and the European Environment Agency (EEA); this year, it is also being co-organised by the City of Athens (Greece). All local and regional governments seeking to shape a climate-resilient future are once again invited to take part in the discussion, and to meet-up in Athens on 14-15 September. Register today!

To learn more about this flagship event, we sat down with Vasileios Latinos (Coordinator, Urban Resilience and Climate Adaptation, ICLEI Europe), who has been coordinating EURESFO for the past six years. Read on to hear Vasilis shed light on what makes EURESFO so special.


How does EURESFO provide a unique opportunity for cities and regions?

I would say that it’s unique in two major ways: there are no powerpoint presentations allowed, and participants work towards finding real solutions. That can’t be said for all conferences!

City representatives, stakeholders from various local and regional institutions, municipal departments, and local SMEs all come together at the EURESFO to discuss concrete strategies and actions to adapt to climate change and build urban resilience. Cities talk to cities, cities talk to regions, and the other way around. We use various formats – from workshops to master classes, and from city-showcase events to deep dives – with only one rule: no powerpoint presentations are allowed!

Participants exchange on local challenges and issues related to climate adaptation and other cross-cutting topics, and work collaboratively to find solutions, explore good practice replication potential, and connect to EU institutions and the private sector.

How will the 2022 edition bring climate adaptation and urban resilience discussions forward?

The organisers – ICLEI Europe, the European Environment Agency and the City of Athens – are working very closely with partners, such as the Resilient Cities Network, the Making Cities Resilient 2030 initiative, and the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy to put together a programme that is both informative and interactive. It will not only capture the state-of-the-art on adaptation research, but will also bring together representatives, experts and stakeholders from local and regional institutions to discuss strategies, initiatives and actions for adapting to climate change and building urban resilience. Our focus is on the next steps to help cities and regions achieve resilience goals.

We are going to explore a variety of topics this year, which I think drive conversations forward. This includes: mainstreaming climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in a combined way; the importance of data availability and accessibility to developing adaptation strategies and action plans; and financing for resilient cities, which definitely remains a challenge to realising ambitious goals.

The programme will also explore the link between social justice and building climate resilience, drawing on insights from using nature-based solutions in post-industrial cities – trust me: this will be a very interesting session! Beyond sessions, we will also offer workshops on topics like developing regional resilience pathways, and on coastal resilience and fighting with sea level rise.

We know from our work with cities that these are conversations that they want to have, and which can help them shape their next steps to build resilience.

What are you most looking forward to about this year’s event taking place in the City of Athens?

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our times and moving the event to a region that suffers severely from the effects of climate change seemed somewhat necessary!

Since the EURESFO last convened in 2021, the world has experienced extreme climate events and disasters, occurring simultaneously in various countries. The recent wildfires in Greece, Sardinia, and Portugal and the deadly floods in Germany, France, and the Netherlands especially affected vulnerable populations. It is no surprise then that over 2000 jurisdictions in more than 35 countries across the world have declared a climate emergency. Plus, we have had at least two more COVID-19 waves, and an ongoing war in Ukraine. This is the moment to take stock, address the issues cities are facing, and talk about solutions!

Athens is no stranger to climate change, and is hit particularly hard by heatwaves and drought. At EURESFO this year, urban heat will thus be in the spotlight. The City of Athens, alongside representatives from other Greek cities and regions, and the European Investment Bank, will discuss how they deal with increasing temperatures and wildfires.

EURESFO will also offer a Masterclass on how to deal with urban heat: from inception to planning to monitoring. In addition, we want to see collaboration evolving between cities that are located in the Mediterranean region, and for that, we will be joined by the cities of Amman, Izmir, and Tel Aviv to discuss a beyond-Europe resilience partnership.

EURESFO has been taking place every year for almost a decade. That is quite a feat! In your opinion, what has made participants keep coming back and wanting more?

Participants, especially from cities and regions, come back because they get up-to-date information on current adaptation policies and action. They enjoy the interactive discussions, and they network a lot. I forgot to mention that we will host a Marketplace with many exhibitors, short pitches on projects, climate resilience assessments and decision support tools – there are so many new partnerships to be made! Next year marks the 10th anniversary of the EURESFO and we look forward to an even larger event then. We hope to mark our anniversary in 2023 by gathering 100 European cities and regions!


For more information, visit the EURESFO website. Follow the @Urb_Resilience Twitter account for the latest updates and programme announcements for #EURESFO22, and don’t forget to register here.