A climate adaptation plan for Santiago de Chile

Menschengruppe sitzt an einem Konferenztisch und betrachtet eine Präsentation

On 27 November 2012 scientists presented a comprehensive climate adaptation plan for the Santiago Metropolitan Region to the regional government in the Chilean capital. The plan is the outcome of a research project titled ClimateAdaptionSantiago (CAS). Under way since 2009 with support from the International Climate Initiative (ICI), the project has brought together scientists from two Chilean universities and two German institutes: the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

The adaptation plan contains a raft of measures designed to address the projected impacts of climate change upon the Santiago region. Identifying and specifying these impacts was part of the project's remit. Among other things, the scientists anticipate a significant rise in temperature and a drop in precipitation in this subtropical, central region of Chile, which lies in a basin surrounded by two Andean mountain chains. In combination with the continuing expansion of the megacity of Santiago, these developments will cause serious problems, for example in connection with water and energy supplies. Santiago depends upon water from the Andes in both its urban and agricultural sectors, and the retreating glaciers can be expected to lead to supply bottlenecks.

The adaptation plan is complemented by a guideline drawn up to facilitate implementation of the individual measures. The document offers specific guidance for the public institutions that were involved in the participatory process over the past three years. Moreover, further outcomes of the CAS project were presented and handed over to local stakeholders. These include a manual containing background information on climate change and its causes along with detailed adaptation strategies and their practical implementation.

Santiago is Chile's political and economic hub. With a population now numbering around six million, it is one of Latin America's megacities experiencing sustained growth. The findings of the CAS project in Santiago, together with the implementation mechanisms, are designed to be transferable to six further South American megacities. To that end, the project is cooperating with the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). ECLAC backs a regional learning network on the continent within which practical experience and best practice are communicated and exchanged. As was the case in Chile, the individual climate adaptation plans for other conurbations will be implemented in a process involving close cooperation between policy-makers, practitioners and scientists.