A Host´s perspective on local climate change adaptation

As Europe is looking to decarbonize by 2050 to meet the European Union targets on climate change, it is increasingly important to talk about cities, and implementing adaptation strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change. Agencies like the Regional Energy Agency of West-Croatia (REGEA) are championing the way towards cities adaptation for climate. Although a fairly new concept, more regional agencies are making strategic progress towards adaptation. According to Tomislav Novosel, a Mechanical Engineer and program manager at REGEA: “Cities are the epicenters of energy consumption and climate change. To decarbonize cities, you must go deeply into the energy and climate planning such as the power sector, transport, and more critically, heating and cooling.”

“If you cannot decarbonize the heating and cooling systems of your cities, then you cannot decarbonize the energy system. This is also an area that is lacking in policy and markets, and therefore will take a lot of time and effort,” Tomislav said. To change the system, conversations and partnerships will not only need to happen within policy circles, but across sectors. These efforts have seen REGEA join the EIT Climate-KIC Croatia hub and has recently become a full partner of the programmes. Since becoming a member of the EIT Climate-KIC Croatia hub, they get involved with all the regular and day-to-day activities of the Hub such as the Climathon and most recently they became hosts for the Pioneer’s in Practice programme.

EIT Climate-KIC’s Systems innovation framework motivated REGEA to participate as a host for 2019 Pioneers at REGEA.

Our primary motivation to join the program was to see how the systems innovation concept functions in real life, and how the Pioneers would utilize these tools to mobilize actors with shared incentives to implement innovations and also to broaden our networks with institutions that we do not intensely work with but wish to.

REGEA’s mandate is to support the development and implementation of national, regional and local energy investment projects and develop long-term strategies on energy efficiency programmes and action plans. This summer, REGEA had the privilege of hosting its first Pioneer from Spain, who is an architect and urban planner responsible for the urban planning of her city. As this was the first time for REGEA taking part in the program, they opted to have an open format whereby they developed general tasks ahead of time, but improvised activities and left room for the specifics to happen naturally once the Pioneer was at the placement. This approach allowed for flexibility and adaptability to the Pioneer’s needs.

REGEA’s Pioneer used her unique technical skills as an architect and urban planner on a project that centered refurbishment of buildings with cultural heritage status in Croatia. She could also contribute with her knowledge and experience in planning for climate change adaptation in cities to propose best practices of similar efforts done in Spain (her home country). They could pilot best practices in Croatia using green technologies to integrate energy and climate planning.

As a first-time host, they experienced some challenges at the beginning. However, Tomislav believed that the programme also enabled them to get acquainted with EI Climate-KIC’s mandate and deepen his knowledge about systems innovation. As a host, the programme also pushed him out of his comfort zone. He is also grateful that to host Pioneers, professionals that learn to be innovative and explore activities out of their comfort zones; and the opportunities to interact with different people and to be receptive to new cultures and mindsets.

REGEA wishes to continue hosting Pioneers while expanding their network with institutions working on climate adaptation projects and attract a cohort that is interested in cities adaptation.