Although climate change adaptation is a complex process, ICLEI’s methodology provides a straightforward approach to adaptation planning using a five-milestone framework. Each milestone represents a fundamental step in the adaptation planning process, starting with the initiation of adaptation efforts (by building an adaptation team and identifying local stakeholders) and culminating with a monitoring and review process that analyzes the successes and reviews the challenges of the adaptation plan and its implementation.
While each milestone builds off the findings of the one before, the methodology as a whole is meant to be iterative and creates opportunities to evaluate and review findings and decisions throughout the creation and implementation of a Local Adaptation Plan. Due to its built-in flexibility, our methodology is widely applicable to communities of all shapes and sizes.
Milestone 1: Initiate
The first Milestone is meant to start the adaptation planning process. Within this milestone communities will identify internal and external stakeholders to be included in the planning process and those that should be part of the adaptation team. The methodology then takes communities through an initial review of their existing knowledge on how the regional climate is changing, followed by a brainstorming exercise to identify potential climate change impacts relevant to the community. Communication techniques are also introduced in this Milestone to facilitate the involvement of other stakeholders and to build political support for the process.
Milestone 2: Research
The second milestone is meant to further develop a community’s understanding of climate change impacts and the major service areas which are likely to feel these impacts most acutely. Within this milestone a municipality will scope the climate change impacts for the region and conduct both a vulnerability and risk assessment.
Milestone 3: Plan
Based on the impacts previously identified, the third milestone provides guidance on how to establish a vision, set adaptation goals and objectives, identify adaptation options, and examine possible constraints and drivers to various actions. From there a community will draft a Local Adaptation Plan. Baseline data will be collected and recorded, financing and budget issues will be addressed, an implementation schedule will be drafted, implementation responsibilities will be determined, and progress and effectiveness indicators will all be identified in the Plan. The primary output of this milestone is a finalized Local Adaptation Plan.
Milestone 4: Implement
In the fourth milestone, communities work to ensure that they have the approval and support of council, municipal staff and the community in order to move forward on implementation. Communities will also make sure they have the appropriate implementation tools to ensure the success of the Plan.
Milestone 5: Monitor and Review
The fifth and final milestone serves to assess whether the goals and objectives previously set by the community have been achieved, and will help communities identify any problems that have been encountered and develop solutions. Additionally, the fifth milestone helps communities communicate their progress to council and the general public.
Operationalizing the Methodology
More detailed information about the five milestone methodology and how to implement it can be found in Changing Climate, Changing Communities: Guide and Workbook for Municipal Climate Adaptation.
ICLEI is also working with Canadian municipalities to implement the methodology contained in Changing Climate, Changing Communities through our Building Adaptive & Resilient Communities (BARC) Program. The BARC Program fosters a flexible approach that brings communities from across the country together to work through the milestone process in real-time with facilitation and technical support from ICLEI staff. Participants also have full access to ICLEI's Online BARC Tool. To learn more about the BARC Program, including how your community can join, see the BARC site.