Bottom up Adaptation Strategies for a Sustainable Europe

Participatory Review of the Strategic Adaptation Plan (Cascais, Portugal)


The Climate Challenge:

Cascais is a Portuguese city on the Atlantic coast and 30 km west of Lisbon. It is characterised by a mountainous terrain, and 33% of its total area belongs to Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. It has historically dealt with flooding. Flooding events are expected to increase both in frequency and intensity. Flash flooding is an especially high risk due to the large urbanisation ratio in some areas with strong economic and touristic activity as well as physical capital, namely historical buildings. In the period between 2000 and 2011, there was just over €1 million in private claims to insurance companies, with 40% of that value occurring in a single event in 2008 in two parishes. In the same year, annual private costs due to flooding in Cascais exceeded €400.000.


The Adaptation Response

In 2010 the municipality developed its Strategic Plan for Climate Change Adaptation (PECAC). In 2013-15 under the FP7 BASE project, a comprehensive participatory revision of the Plan was made together with the Agenda 21 of Cascais in order to reassess and re-prioritize the adaptation measures implemented, taking into consideration all major stakeholders as well as all key affected sectors. Cascais is moving towards the updated Climate Adaptation Action Plan in 2016. The measures included green spaces and corridors in urban areas; beach and shoreface nourishment; rehabilitation and restoration of rivers; establishment and restoration of riparian buffers; and awareness campaigns for behavioural change.


The People and Institutions Involved

Participatory methodologies have been extensively used in the Cascais adaptation strategy. BASE research work in Cascais began in October 2012 with preliminary/exploratory meetings with representatives from the Municipality. Through 9 participatory workshops, one population wide inquiry (n=1885), one inquiry to the technical body of the municipality (n=99) and several field visits, PECAC 2.0 was completed in 2015.  This makes Cascais BASE’s case study icon in the use of Participatory Methodologies.


The Outcome of Action

In terms of concrete measures, green corridors, rainwater gardens and rainwater catchments are to be implemented. Green corridors and the re-naturing of Cascais streams is an ongoing adaptation measure that enjoys wide stakeholder consensus and yields positive externalities and socio-political support with relatively low levels of investment needed. Yet its effectiveness in flood risk reduction in this specific case study is still uncertain and a detailed action plan is needed for further analysis. Green roofs, on the other hand, represent a high investment alternative that did not enjoy consensus among stakeholders and experts, and a life cycle analysis drawn from the literature review also discouraged their use when compared with alternatives such as rainwater gardens. Decentralized, privately owned rainwater catchment solutions turned out to be attractive to local decision-makers and represent a cost-efficient strategy, considering if public-private partnerships help subsidise investments or tax reduction.



Filipe Moreira Alves


Relevant Links


Full Report

The full report of this case study can be read here.


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