2.2 Reflections and lessons learnt

Lessons learnt on adaptation platforms in Europe are presented here assigned to the same categories as in section 2.1 to make use of the existing experiences across the adaptation platforms. There are a range of reflections and lessons learnt provided; reflecting that adaptation platforms are not homogeneous in terms of the nature and scope of remit and services provided, but also in terms their stage of development and development pathways.

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The aim is to encourage continued improvement of adaptation platforms to support the adaptation policy cycle (see section 1). These lessons are also intended to increase awareness of the potential and limitations of the adaptation platforms. Furthermore, they are intended to highlight which approaches are the most appropriate for the individual circumstances of each platform.

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The reflections and lessons learnt have been proposed by platform owners, developers and managers from their experience of current practices within their respective platforms. These include those developed and implemented to address specific challenges identified in section 2.1, but also those that address other issues unrelated to any previously-identified challenge. These additional lessons have been included as they are believed to be potentially of interest to others.

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Approaches used by individual platform owners and managers to cope with the challenges identified under their specific circumstances are highlighted within each category. The approaches are presented in more depth to better understand the specific solutions and to provide inspiration.

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As with the challenges and their interpretation, these reflections and lessons learnt are not necessarily directly applicable for all platforms. Some owners, developers and manager have found them useful from their own particular situation, concerns, and the needs and capacities of their host institution and target audiences. Furthermore, many of the lessons presented were mentioned by many owners, developers and managers, in multiple sessions and forums. Hence, they are a distilled reflection that cuts across platforms. It is thus important to review these reflections and lessons learnt in this context with a view to learning from them relative to their validity and adaptability for the intended application.

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A. Funding and sustaining platforms

Based on the varying legal basis and mandate of the adaption platforms different funding approaches have been applied (see table 1.3.5.). The nature and the sustainability of funding are considered crucial for the sustainability and continued relevance and credibility of adaptation platforms. Recognition of this role of funding is still an area of incipient practice. Few, if any, examples of strategically designed funding models for platform development and maintenance over time have been identified; e.g., state funds (e.g. France), governmental and additional external funding (e.g., The Netherlands), institutional and project-based funding (e.g., Finland).

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Key lessons include:

  • The identification of significant political and practice drivers at the appropriate scales and their ambitions, resources and own funding models, are fundamental for the development and maintenance of a platform. They can define the clear definition of its scope and utility and ensure its sustainability (e.g., C3Alps, Sweden).
  • The relatively short-term nature of project-based funding models can have wide ranging positive and negative implications for the platform development and the scope of its services (see section 1.3.2 and 2.1 issue area A). The rapid development and successful demonstration of a functional prototype (necessarily so as projects are fixed in time) can be the basis of a further solid commitment towards funding. Political mandate is potentially easier to be attained for an operational-ready status platform (e.g., Ireland).

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The nature and scope of the service available within a platform are determined by the amount and type of funding available. For example, the funding available will determine whether the service is a website (e.g., Gov.UK and Austria) or a knowledge exchange platform (e.g., Denmark and Climate-ADAPT). It will also determine to what extent it provides information versus providing a participatory platform supporting long-term processes (e.g., Spain, C3Alps).

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Platform examples:

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Sustaining the adaptation platform funding by basic governmental and additional external funding -

Example: The Netherlands (www.climateadaptationservices.com)

Background:

The Climate Adaptation Services (CAS) platform became operational in August 2014. It provides information on the reasons, the ways and the areas where adaptation to climate change needs to be implemented through a stepwise approach for the assessment of vulnerability as well as the design and appraisal of adaptation strategies. Among others, the platform provides support tools for the design of adaptation, an impact geoportal, a measures database, localised atlases, guiding models and a generic and integrated social cost-benefit tool. The development of the portal was funded by the Delta programme, together with the Knowledge for Climate programme. Although currently there is not a primary link to the Dutch National Adaptation Strategy, a new programme, called “Spatial Adaptation Programme”, will encompass the Dutch NAS as well as actions relevant to the local level. The platform is hosted by the CAS foundation, a non-profit foundation, which represents a large number of institutes. This is the main responsible organisation for the maintenance and update of the platform. Information in the platform is available both in English and Dutch.

The challenge:

Due to the limited or uncertain governmental funding the platform management valued it as important to avoid complete dependency on the state funds and to explore opportunities for complementary funding sources.

The approach:

The current business model of the CAS foundation focuses on two main elements: the maintenance of the web portal and the disclosure of adaptation knowledge through the platform. Funding for the conduct of these activities has been partially dependent on governmental funds, namely the Knowledge for Climate programme and the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment (I&M) through a multi-year service contract. In attempt to avoid being fully dependent on government funding, the CAS foundation has aimed to acquire additional funds through projects and delivery of services, applied tools and support to various stakeholders. So far a large part of the work revolves around the application of knowledge at the municipality level. Also opportunities for new projects in Europe and beyond (e.g., in developing countries) have been successfully used to gain further funding. Being a non-profit organisation, non-governmental financial resources resulting from such activities are invested on the foundation, to support the maintenance of the tools and the website.

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Securing the long-term maintenance of the platform through institutional funding and development projects - Example: Finland (www.climateguide.fi)

Background:

The planning of the Climateguide.fi started in 2009. It became operational in the autumn of 2011, with support received from the Life+ EU funded project: “Climate Change Community Response Portal” (Life07 INF/FIN/000152; CCCRP). Its original purpose was to provide research based climate change information that would be applicable particularly at the local (municipal) level. However, later on this focus expanded to include also the regional and national level. The platform makes reference to sector based adaptation programmes and the Finnish National Adaptation Strategy (NAS). Although the platform was not directly part of the work undertaken for the development of the NAS, its link to the NAS has strengthened, with the revised strategy making also an explicit reference to the portal. In its current version the portal provides information on climate change, adaptation and mitigation, relevant articles as well as historical data and projections on rainfall and temperature in a map tool, and case studies. After the ending of the Life+ funding in 2012 the platform was maintained primarily by the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) and the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), with some support from the Aalto University YTK Land Use Planning and Urban Studies Group. A particular emphasis is to make the portal provide more current information on ongoing events and processes. Information (but not all) is available in three languages (Finnish, Swedish and English).

The challenge:

The main challenge of the Climatguide.fi lies in securing the long-term maintenance of the portal. This has not yet been fully achieved although progress has been made in securing some institutional funding. The project based funding is excellent for developing new innovative elements to be included in the portal. The business model would, however, greatly benefit from a slightly increased constant resource flow.

The approach:

Initial funding support through Life+ of the EU was sufficient to launch the portal. After the ending of the Life+ funding, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the Finnish Environment Institute and other organisations invested their own work and resources in the maintenance of the portal, applied for additional external funding to continue the development work and made effort to include more producers of information in the portal. Subsequent funding has been a combination of several smaller development projects and institutional funding coming especially from the two main partners, the FMI and SYKE. Due to the temporal variation of the project based funds and the yearly scrutiny to which institutional funding is subject, the platform managers aim to include more institutional funders to secure the maintenance of the basic contents. Furthermore, they structured the platform by the organisations delivering the contents, and seek to obtain external funding for the further development of the platform.

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B. Understanding, communicating and engaging with users

Understanding communicating with and engaging users is usually seen as one of the critical aspects of platform’s development and maintenance as it cuts across all other elements. Therefore it is also an area where more thinking goes into providing interesting lessons based on the experiences of developers and managers. The lessons include that:

  • It is fundamental, before anything else, to clearly define and understand the users by asking ‘who they are’, ‘where they are’, ‘what they want’ and ‘why they want it.
  • It is fundamental to match (even if limiting) the scope of target users with available resources and information. Focusing on a few target groups and aiming at tailor made information and products can be a solution.
  • Limiting the target group of a platform can also be a way to efficiently maintain platforms operating and complementing each other at different governance levels (e. g. Climate-ADAPT).
  • It is important to define and engage users from the beginning in the design, implementation and maintenance phases, while also recognising that these and their respective roles as well as interests may change with time.
  • Conserve the users trust in the dynamics and timeliness of the portal via making the timeliness of the platform content visible.
  • If it is difficult to engage users, since it is often difficult and for them to articulate their needs. An intermediate may be used for this purpose. This could be a person who understands the science but also the users.
  • Users can be better involved by replying to them, including information on how their feedback has been considered.
  • Based on the intention of users to enhance visibility of their own activities they can be engaged by turning them into users via offering platform space to showcase their success via case studies or policy profiles,  (e. g., in Poland, on Climate-ADAPT).
  • It may be required to use multiple engagement mechanisms. These are often tailored to specific phases of the platform’s stage of development and to the targeted user groups, including for example:
    • Policy-related participatory processes (e.g., Austria and Spain);
    • Specific technical meetings with stakeholders (e.g., Spain);
    • Directly involving users into the platform development, e.g., via a usability group in Ireland, via an engagement programme (e.g., The Netherlands);
    • Targeted interviews (e.g., Austria and Switzerland);
    • Using online feedback via contact-button (e.g., The Netherlands);
    • Surveys and polls (e.g., Finland and Germany, Ireland, Alpine region);
    • Newsletters (e.g., Germany, Austria and UKCIP; Climate-ADAPT);
    • Tailored workshops, seminars and webinars (e.g., Finland, Germany, and The Netherlands);
    • Presentations at conferences and seminars (e.g., Ireland);
    • Facebook (e.g., Finland);
    • Meeting users at conferences, seminars or other events (e.g., Germany and Ireland);
    • E-mail feedback mechanism (e.g., Germany, Austria, Climate-ADAPT);
    • Formal and informal meetings and discussions (e.g., Ireland, The Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland);
    • User-based maintenance mechanism for digested tailor made information via commenting on thematic collections of knowledge (e.g. Alpine region);
    • Reports and publications (e.g., Ireland);
    • Testing panels (e.g., The Netherlands);
    • Include user´s directly in platform maintenance and evaluation via editorial board and in evaluation team (e. g. The Netherlands), and
    • Creating networks of users (e.g., Ireland).

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Reflections and lessons learned relate also to the promotion of a platform, ensuring that its users know what to expect and where to find the information they need. This includes:

  • Use of personal contacts to keep in touch with users.
  • Use of newsletters to inform about platform news targeting policy makers, decision makers and interested public (e.g., being disseminated by UKCIP, Denmark, Germany, Austria. Pyrenees and Climate-ADAPT, planned for dissemination in 2015 by Spain). A balance is needed, however, so that users do not receive too much information that they cannot process;
  • Identify linkages with key websites, e.g., those that support publicity and use of platforms (e.g., UK).
  • Publishing relevant articles in relevant media and on other relevant websites (e.g., Finland, Poland).
  • Offering material to be published at other websites (e.g., Germany).
  • Publishing press releases promoting a platform (e.g., Finland).
  • Use of online available bookmarks with information about platforms (e.g., in Spain).
  • Marketing of the platform through attendance and presentations at workshops and key conferences e.g. Finland, dissemination of project information through newsletters and through contributions to key publications.
  • Holding platform-specific workshops and roundtables (e.g., in Spain).
  • Use of new forms of media communication to users (e.g., videos, published at Climate-ADAPT, videos and social media as implemented in Finland, Poland, planned in Austria).
  • Use of other promotional mechanisms (e.g., offering training and support, e. g. implemented in the Netherlands, planned in Switzerland, organising events, online games, offering apps, videos and other communication material setting up competitions for innovative approaches and good practices such as that in Germany related to adaptation examples[1]).
  • Establishing a task force, which travels to municipalities and support the development and implementation of municipal adaptation plans (e.g., Denmark).
  • Enhance user contact via embedding stand-alone adaptation platforms into institutional platforms  (e.g. Germany)
  • Introducing public information campaigns targeting intended users.

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The effectiveness of all these activities can be assessed through web analytics (e.g., number of new and returning visitors). This is for example being used in the UK, for Climate-ADAPT.

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More lessons learned can be provided regarding the engagement of stakeholders in using the information available on the platform in order to take adaptation action. (see section 2.2 D).

  • Some platforms recognise this limitation and include specific activities to enhance working with key end-users, including in the co-design, co-production and co-delivery of information and knowledge needed for adaptation actions. A platforms involving users in the updating of the platform is C3 Alps.
  • In order to encourage users to become providers of information to a platform the barriers for the submission should be as low as possible. This includes user-friendly submission procedures and the transparency of the data processing (see section 2.2 E). For example, on Climate-ADAPT the selection criteria for the approval of submitted case studies as well as examples for the submission are published on the platform.

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Platform examples:

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On the way from adaptation support for local level action to interactive tools for an extended audience - Example: Norway (http://klimatilpasning. no)

Background:

The platform was set up on behalf of the Ministry of Climate and Environment as a national clearing house to coordinate national adaptation efforts at directorate level and to build capacity for local planners through the county governor´s office. It was developed by the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB) and launched in March 2009. In the process of the national adaptation policy the maintenance and further development of the platform was moved to the Norwegian Environment Agency in January 2014. The platforms aims to gather relevant knowledge and information about climate adaptation in one location. It has been mainly created for planners and decision makers on local and regional level, but the information should be easily accessible and interesting for all who are engaged with what climate change will mean for the Norwegian society.

The Challenge:

In order to allow an easy uptake of the information by the key target group, the local planners and experts, and to support the capacity building on adaptation the information and tools have to be presented in an understandable and easy accessible way.  In order to be useful also for other target groups, the platform should also present more complex information and entry points for other stakeholders.

The solution:

Due to these practical needs of the local users the layout of the platform was created in a very clear and straight forward manner, with the use of the local planners own vocabulary and division of work areas. The factual information presented on the platform (climate change impacts, sector information, and a big section on local activities for each municipality) is accessible via search criteria (in a database?). More information (results of local analysis, case studies, research results, maps and a planning guide) are being presented via a library. The entries consist of metadata, printable pages, documents to be downloaded and links to related sources of information.  Case studies include links to further information to enable access to further information. At the moment there is no space for an interactive exchange among local users on adaptation.

The platform will be revised and re-launched at the end of 2015.  The revision aims to involve more target groups. In the first round of revision, the building and agriculture sector will be included as target groups. There will be closer links to the revised Norwegian Climate Service platform, to allow access to updated downscaled climate change projections. More streamlined visuals across both platforms are envisaged as well. Within the revision IT functionalities will be implemented to improve the presentation of the example database and the visibility of contacts.  Furthermore, the re-launch aims also to increase the user friendliness and of the whole platform and the interaction with users and providers through tools (like webinar, seminars, exchange of experience etc.).

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Eliciting the needs and expectations of users through a multi-method approach - Example of Ireland (www.climateireland.ie)

Background:

Within the context of the climate change research programme of the Environment Protection Agency, the Impacts and Adaptation Steering group recognised in January 2010 the need for an official, trustworthy source of climate information in Ireland. As a result, at the end of the same year there was a call for the development of a national climate change information system. This would serve as a one-stop, web-based resource of climate and adaptation information and data, with the aim to facilitate decision makers (e.g., organisations, sectors and government) in the development of adaptation plans. A phased approach has been used towards the development of Ireland’s Climate Information Platform. In phase I (2011-2013) a prototype, ‘discovery portal’ was developed. In phase II (2013-2015, currently under way) the prototype is further elaborated in order to develop an operational platform to support decision makers at sectoral and local level with assessments of climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation planning. In this phase the best options for embedding, governing, resourcing and sustaining an operational platform are also explored. Finally in phase III the platform is envisaged to be fully operational (2015). Future plans will concentrate on the provision of reliable and accurate climate and adaptation information also for the general public.

The challenge:

Understanding user needs and expectations, and engaging users at different stages of the platform development is important for two main reasons: firstly, to ensure, that the information presented in the platform is relevant, and secondly, to maximise users’ willingness to further support the platform. However, garnering stakeholder support and encouraging them to contribute to the design and the production is not always a trivial task. One of the key challenges lies in finding efficient ways to elicit, influence and ultimately meet the needs and expectations of the end users.

The approach:

In attempts to answer some of the questions that platform managers are often confronted such as “How to maintain the trust, interest and enthusiasm of the users?” or “How to elicit the desired information or data formats?” Climate Ireland has employed a multi-method approach.

Following from an extensive review of the available research related to adaptation and practice in Ireland, which allowed for establishing an overview of the existing knowledge, workshops were held with key sectoral representatives and local authorities in order to establish information requirements for adaptation planning. Formal and informal meetings and discussions with the key user groups formed a key component of understanding user needs, highlighting in particular the areas and topics on which more information is needed (e.g., the need to increase understanding of climate change and its implications for Ireland in particular). Presentations at conferences, published reports (e.g. Ireland’s Future Climate: The Road Ahead”) and outreach activities have been used to engage end users.

In addition and importantly, the project team is currently actively engaging with users (e.g., health sector and local authorities) who are developing their adaptation plans. These users, along with representatives from other key user groups (e.g., local authority and sectoral decision-makers), adaptation specialists and web development experts, are involved in the so-called “usability group”. This is a group that has been established to ensure that the platform meets the requirements of the key user groups in terms of usability (e.g., Does the content fulfil a need?, is the site easy to use?, Is the site aesthetically pleasing?, Is the content easily navigable? Do users trust the content?). Following from this, ICIP will be re-iterated on the basis of recommendations made by the usability and subsequently re-assessed.

Another way to further engage with users has been the establishment of a network of users (currently underway).  As a first step, access to ICIP has been widened and requires users to complete a simple registration form. Feedback from registered users is currently being elicited by online survey.

Finally the need for an overall strategic plan that defines the direction and scope of the platform in the longer-term is seen as a further need. This will allow for the most effective configuration of resources and competences with the aim of fulfilling stakeholder expectations. This should also ensure that the way that platform is developed remains appropriate for the needs of the stakeholder groups.

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Communication and interactivity to improve the engagement of the platform users - Example: Austria  (http://www.klimawandelanpassung.at/)

Background:

The Austrian Adaptation Platform was launched in 2009 and was substantially updated and revised in January 2013. It was developed as part of the participatory process to accompany and support the development of the Austrian National Adaptation Strategy and National Adaptation Plan. For this reason it required only a small budget for the technical set-up and few personal resources. While the initial aim of the platform was to provide simple support of the national policy process, this aim shifted after the platform’s launch, and now includes the provision of broader support of adaptation for the whole public. Since its launch the platform has also strengthened the presentation of research results and enhanced the level of interactivity and the use of online tools. The European Agency Austria is the sole platform operator. However, important changes are discussed and agreed also with the funders. With the exception of the database maintenance, which receives a direct fund from the Ministry of Environment, all other developments of the platform are currently project-based. In its current version the platform is organised in six main areas: Climate change in Austria; Adaptation to climate change; Austrian adaptation strategy; Research on CCA; Database of adaptation measures; Links/Glossary/Newsletter. This information is available in German while main parts of the website have been also translated in English.

The challenge:

In addition to content that appear or the functionalities that can be used on a platform, one of the aspects that needs to be considered when aiming to improve users’ engagement is that of communication. It is important to ensure that multiple and efficient ways of communication are available to inform different user groups for possible changes, progress and other news that appear on the platform. Also the level of interactivity of the platform is an important element that could maintain the interest in and hence the engagement of the users with the platform.

The approach:

Several projects developing adaptation tools and guidance were recently finalized, providing new methods, tools and guidance for developing adaptation strategies at sub-national, regional and cities level (FAMOUS handbook). Also tools and guidance have been delivered on how to effectively communicate climate change and adaptation (CCTalk!). A brochure was produced for the general public aiming at raising awareness about the NAS/NAP and providing practical advice for Austrian citizens. Although the website is currently designed as an information hub, this information can be translated online and used to interact with potential users. For example, this is being done by offering training and support, organizing events with different target groups, designing online games, offering apps, setting up competitions for innovative approaches and good practices. Future plans include also the set-up of an online decision tool for local adaptation (CC-Act project), which is expected to allow more interaction with potential users. Other more traditional methods of communication have also been used since 2011 targeting policy makers, decision makers and interested public.

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C. Identifying and maintaining relevant knowledge and information

The identification of relevant adaptation knowledge and information that is, useful, credible and accessible is a challenge that every adaptation platform has to address. The overall utility of the platform itself is primarily determined by its success in delivering these, as well as its capability to capture the user’s long-lasting interest. Because this is literally the content of the platform, it has to be screened and tailored to fit the purpose and needs of the users. Lessons learnt from current practices include:

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Selection of relevant knowledge:

  • It is fundamental that there are clear criteria that can guide the identification of relevant knowledge. A well-focused content eases the cooperation with users and ultimately with other climate change platforms. These criteria are very helpful to ensure over time that the quality of the information presented is reliable, relevant for the adaptation policy process and can be maintained with the available resources. Such clear criteria have been developed e.g. for the C3Alps platform and for Climate-ADAPT.
  • Defining a framework for the selection of the content to be provided on the platform should also consider the appropriateness of the information for the intended support to users. This relates to the role of a platform – the extent that it simply provides data and tools versus it offers comprehensive knowledge support as a service function. Furthermore, this relates to its relationships with other platforms in terms of interoperability.  For example, the Swiss platform is intended to provide a suit of essential administrative information rather than a comprehensive thematic information platform.
  • It advisable to consider that the content to be published should be selected in different ways according to the aim of the publication. This can vary from “enabling informed decision-making” to “having better visibility”.  It should also be considered if a platform is being used to publish information according to an official reporting obligation, such as under the European Commission’s MMR[2] regulation or national reporting obligations.
  • Beside content and the appropriateness of the information to be selected the user friendliness of the information should also be part of the selection process (e.g. Ireland).
  • Where platforms have sections with different purposes and are maintained by different institutions it might be advisable to define additional or different selection criteria for the individual platform sections. For example, the criteria for the selection of case studies are different from the criteria applied for the selection of other adaptation information in the Climate-ADAPT database. Information highlighted within the Urban Adaptation support tool, and being updated by the Mayors Adapt consortium[3] are identified based on specific selection criteria (e.g. Climate-ADAPT).

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Maintenance:

  • Regularly communicating the framework of an adaptation platform maintenance to users and providers ensures the transparency of the platform development. Furthermore, this raises awareness on and acceptance of the possibilities and limits of a platform. Based on the feedback by users and providers adjustments to the maintenance framework can be made if needed (e. g., planned for Climate-ADAPT).
  • Developing quality assurance procedures with clear roles and responsibilities for the updating process is helpful to make the maintenance of a platform feasible (e. g., C3Alps).
  • Due to the varying mandates of the platforms there are different models used for the maintenance process in the member states, as such
  • Due to the limited resources of a platform deciding the updates internally with a small number of experts from the hosting organisation (e g. Austria and Spain), involving funding organisations only in case of big changes (e. g. Austria) and doing the Quality assurance on a case-by-case basis and relying on the quality of the information providers (e. g. Sweden).
  • Proactively developing formal agreements and processes for the submission of content. One recognised dissemination outlet for the Environment Agency is the adaptation platform (e. g. Ireland). The Environment Agency funded research is actively encouraged to engage with the platform (e. g. Ireland, Germany).
  • Based on the submission of content by a platform supporting research project the selection of content has been made only based on these available research results. A regional level user-feedback driven development of selection criteria is being envisaged (e.g. Poland).
  • Combining the content quality assurance by expert review and the quality assurance of the user-friendliness and scientific writing quality by two user groups involving climate scientists, adaptation specialists and sectorial experts (e.g. Ireland).
  • Establishing a review team for consultation and advice, and sometimes also for decision. This includes discussing suggestions for improvements and making decisions about what to add or to change. Such teams, containing of main users, exist for example in The Netherlands, Finland).
  • Using different approaches for the maintenance of platforms with more than one contributor.  One model used is the explicit waiving of quality control by the platform managers leaving the quality control of the information to the research institutions providing the information or the tools. It is about disclosing existing information and not so much about developing new, unique content. (eg., The Netherlands).
  • Develop practical solutions to cope with the burden of maintenance including user-based maintenance models. For example, on the C3Alps platform, an online metadata editor allows users to share their own resources and to enter new items into the inventory. Users can create their own customized thematic collections, write a synthesis dossier and submit them for publication.
  • In order to encourage users to become providers of information to a platform the barriers for the submission should be as low as possible. This includes user-friendly submission procedures and the transparency of the data processing (see section 2.2 E). For example, on Climate-ADAPT the selection criteria for the approval of submitted case studies as well as examples for the submission are published on the platform.

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Platform examples:

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Presenting the most relevant knowledge for a broad target audience in Europe – Example: Climate-ADAPT)

Background:

Launched in 2012, the European Climate Adaptation Platform of the European Commission, Climate-ADAPT, hosted by the EEA, aims to support decision-making on adaptation to climate change in Europe. Valued as a core element of the EU Adaptation Strategy, the platform aims to provide the best available information on adaptation at EU level and to share this knowledge base for all member States. Supported by the ETC-CCA continuous efforts are placed to identify and publish the relevant knowledge and information.  The information is available in English.

The challenge:

A growing amount of information on policy approaches and guidance on different governance levels, research results and practical experiences on adaptation is available in Europe. It is difficult to balance the different requirements of the intended target audiences with the content to be provided on the platform.  Since the level of preparedness to climate change varies among the EEA member states it remains an additional challenge to present the knowledge such that it supports decisions at different steps of the adaptation policy cycle such that it is easily understood and usable by a variety of users with different needs and capabilities. Furthermore, decision makers on EU, national and local level need different levels of information.

The approach:

The information to be published on Climate-ADAPT follows the guideline within the Climate-ADAPT work plan (2013 to 2018) developed based on interactions with DG CLIMA, member states and other stakeholders via the European Environment Information and Observation Network (EIONET) and EEA Expert meetings[4]. EEA together with DG CLIMA defined main principles for the update and further development of the platform. These were translated into Standard operating procedures (SOP) by EEA, supported by the ETC/CCA.  The main principles are that the information on Climate-ADAPT should be relevant, reliable, timely and easy accessible. According to these principles, processes have been set up for the different sections of the platform. For example, Member states are directly involved in preparing for the platform their own profiles on their national adaptation process. Key EU research and Interreg projects have been involved in synthesis in a structured way their results for publication on the platform. Criteria have been developed and used to provide the relevant news and events on the platform that will keep decision makers informed. For the Climate-ADAPT database specific selection criteria have been developed and a Quality Assessment procedure has been set up in order to ensure that the database is relevant and reliable over time. The criteria are being constantly revised to ensure that the database content still matches the evolving needs of decision makers. Specific criteria for the identification of relevant case studies have been developed by the EEA supported by the ETC/CCA and published on the platform[5].  Beginning in 2015 information on a city network activity (Mayors Adapt) will be included defining and using specific QA criteria. EEA together with the ETC CCA is working towards the systematic identification and closing of gaps in the information presented.

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Selecting the relevant content for a platform run by several partners in a consistent way - Example Finland (Climateguide.fi)

The Background:

The Climatguide.fi platform started in 2009 and became operational in 2011. It was being developed as a LIFE+ project funded platform until 2012 to serve the adaptation knowledge needs of municipalities. The platform was further maintained by research institutions like the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FI) and the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), with some support from the Aalto University YTK Land Use Planning and Urban Studies Group from then, covering also regional and national level information. In 2014, a contextual link was established to the revision of the National Adaptation Strategy, but the platform has not been directly connected to the Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture, leading the NAS process. The platform was established to fulfil a perceived need to provide research based climate change information that would be applicable in particular at the municipal level.  It consists not only of information on climate change and adaptation, but also on mitigation. On the platform there are articles on adaptation and mitigation (“climate change explained”, as well as historical data and projections on rainfall and temperature in a map tool (“maps, graphs and datasets”) and case studies (“Community response wizard”). It provides information in three languages (Finnish, Swedish, and English). It has a sharing component.

The Challenge:

Since the different sections of the platform are being maintained on an instable funding basis and by more than one research institution it has to be ensured that the information to be presented on the platform is selected in a consistent way.

The approach:

A two-step procedure is used to select the relevant and eligible content for the platform.

Firstly, every article of Climateguide.fi has a “home”. The organization responsible and flagged on the platform as “author” is regularly checking the content and updating it, when necessary.

Currently the regular scanning of pages and articles and revision of contents is done differently in these organizations. The majority of the updating has been done in separate projects with external funding, but also by own research projects as part of the dissemination of their results. Other updates consider information available by other sources. A process of internal review has been established with each article being checked by at least two relevant experts in regard to content and language.

At the second step of the procedure as much consistency as possible regarding content and style is being ensured through the additional check done by the science editor of the platform.  There are internal quality criteria for the translation of the articles into focused documents in understandable language. The procedure of the updating process is therefore challenging.  Finding time and resources for updating is demanding due to the temporary nature of the funding.

The scientific editor of the platform plays a key role, because he is keeping the overview of the content and the use statistics as well as of the user feedback. Based on this he identifies the general updating needs. He prepares the basis for the regular evaluation of the platform carried out by the informal group of all institutions involved in the further development of the platform.

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D. Presenting relevant knowledge and information

When identifying and presenting relevant knowledge and information, there is the growing recognition that providing data and information is necessary, but in itself may not be sufficient to enable adaptation action. Some adaptation platforms provide supportive resources targeting key groups (e.g., businesses, public sector and other organisations) that go beyond information and assessments of climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation. These resources can include decision support tools (e.g. stepwise approaches). Furthermore, they include also case studies and experiences of target groups, reflecting on e.g. success factors and barriers. Additional activities are necessary to engage stakeholders in using these remains a challenge (see section 2.2 B).

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In addition to identifying the information that appears on a platform, special care needs to be given to the way that this is presented with the aim of being fit-for-purpose, namely that it addresses the various audiences’ needs.

  • It is recognised that the performance of the platforms need to have certain attributes including having a logical, self-evident flow to the navigation, being rapidly accessible (regarding the speed of the site) and reliable (minimal outage time). These attributes of user-friendliness are in addition to those for the services comprising the platform which are expected to be credible, relevant and usable.
  • It might be necessary to rewrite the information from research projects or technical reports, avoiding scientific terms and using alternative means of presenting the results, such as info-graphics (e. g. Poland).
  • Long documents need to be presented as a shortened and more focused version, including the use of hierarchical presentations of the relevant information.
  • Translation services may need to be considered in research project budgets so that the results can be presented on the platform in more than one language. Developing well-written guidance.
  • For all data and information on climate change there are associated uncertainties. It is advisable to complement the data and information presented on a platforms by additional guidance on the limits and possibilities of its use in adaptation planning and decision-making. For example, on Climate-ADAPT an “Uncertainty guidance” is published and will be updated soon.
  • Providing products and services in the national, regional and local ‘languages’ is also important particularly for platforms that cover countries or regions with more than one spoken languages (Switzerland, Pyrenees, C3Alps). This often impacts the speed of updating of information, but reaching the intended audience is also seen as an important criterion.

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There are different models for presenting information.

  • For example, Denmark has specific dedicated sections for different types of users (citizen, municipalities, and businesses). Beside tailor-made platform sections there are also approaches presenting individual tools for different types of users. For example, Climate-ADAPT offers an Urban adaptation support tool for city experts beside an Adaptation support tool (AST), offered for all types of users.
  • Another example is provided by the German platform on which information is presented using a hierarchical structure. On the landing page information is presented using a simple non-technical language. If users want more information they can access further sub-pages on which the language becomes more specific and technical.
  • There are other examples that support users with different adaptation knowledge. For example, France supports different kind of visitors from specialist to beginners, Climate-ADAPT uses sections like “getting started” within tools, such as the AST, and provides glossary to support users with limited knowledge.

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Platform examples:

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Tailor-made entry points into adaptation knowledge for main target groups - Example: Klimatilpasning.dk Denmark

Background:

The portal, developed within the Danish National Adaptation Strategy process and launched in 2009, is owned by the Danish Ministry for the Environment. It is being supported by all ministries involved in adaptation policy. Since municipalities in Denmark are obliged to develop action plans on adaptation the aim of the platform is to guide local and regional planners through this process of adaptation planning. Accordingly, the clear main target audience of the platform are municipalities, but business and citizen should be able to find support as well.

The challenge:

In order to ensure the relevance and usefulness of the information for the target group the knowledge should be presented in a way that municipalities can understand the fundamentals of climate change and will be enabled to integrate its consequences into their decision-making.

The approach:

In order to support the needs of the municipalities as the main and the citizen and businesses as secondary target groups the homepage of the portal has been structured using tailor-made entry points and subpages for the three target groups. Within the specific subpages municipalities find targeted information, consisting of a knowledge base, a case study database with 34 cases, a newsletter and 4 different tools. Among the tools are a web GIS with interactive maps, tools like coastal planner, “flooding from sea tool”, local climate impact planner, climate meter, resilience houses tool, a precipitation and cloud burst management as well a as municipal plans and strategies. Due to the need to enable an effective use of the facts, scenarios, tools and guidance the scientific and practical basis as well as research results are being presented in a very clear and structured way. 55 web pages are linked to the portal to allow an easy access to related information.

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Tailoring information to enhance relevance and quality - Example: klimada.mos.gov.pl/en/Poland

Background:

KLIMADA, developed along with the Ministry of the Environment KLIMADA project “Development and implementation of a strategic adaptation plan for the sectors and areas vulnerable to climate change”. Launched in 2013, it is maintained and all changes are funded by the Ministry of the Environment. Before KLIMADA, information about climate change and about NAS 2020 were available as a tab on the Ministry of the Environment web page. The main driver for establishing the Polish National Adaptation Platform was the need to develop a tool to support the implementation of the Polish National Adaptation Strategy (NAS). KLIMADA supports the NAS process, namely providing an official one-stop-shop for adaptation in Poland. There were already several other ‘non-official‘ web sites operating in Poland. The target audience for KLIMADA is not the general public, but actors from local, regional and national governments.

The challenge:

The biggest challenge for KLIMADA when presenting new information is to present that information in a user friendly way.  New information for the platform sometimes results from scientific projects. The language and format in which it is presented is not clear to the target audience of the platform.

The approach:

When preparing the information for presentation on KLIMADA, attempts are made to make it more user-friendly. For example, technical articles are rewritten in a less technical language to make them more understandable for the intended users. In addition, info-graphics, graphs, tables, and pictures are added where they can better present some of the information included.

Future plans are looking to establishing targeted sub-sites related to upcoming programmes. For example, one such sub-site being considered is related to the Polish presidency in Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBBS)[6] (2015-2016). It will provide information on current and future climate change and related impacts in the coastal zone and the Polish Baltic Sea ecosystems.  Another potential sub-site, based on a project initiated by the Polish Ministry of the Environment, is related to supporting major cities in Poland in developing adaptation strategies and plans. These strategies should comprise proposals of measures to improve resilience against climate change.

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Improving the use of climate change and adaptation information through its multilingual presentation. Example of the Pyrenees (http://opcc-ctp.org/)

Background:

The Pyrenees Climate Change Observatory platform was launched in 2010. It was developed as part of the Observatory’s actions programme (2009-2011), as a strategic initiative of the Working Community of the Pyrenees to tackle climate change at the Pyrenean transnational bio-geographic region. The platform, developed based on project funding, later supported by the eight territories of the Pyrenees, now based mainly by EU funds, aims to monitor climate change in the region. Furthermore it supports to build a better understanding of it in attempts to increase resilience and to raise awareness and capacity building of various stakeholders. To achieve these aims, the platform serves as a decision-making support tool for climate change related issues. It provides accessible and relevant information and guidelines on climate change and adaptation to a broad target audience. This is local authorities’ bodies, academic and scientific community, managers and developers, and general interested public. Among others the platform provides information about climate change in the Pyrenees, namely the lines of OPCC actions, impacts and vulnerability, observations of climate change and adaptation; information on the OPCC projects. Furthermore, it presents a number of tools including a database of adaptation measures, a catalogue with studies and articles related to climate change in the Pyrenees and beyond, transboundary geographical information, a directory of climate change related stakeholders and tools for communication, such as a newsletter.

The Challenge:

Ensuring that the language used to present information on a climate adaptation platform is not too technical or complex for its users, is already a challenge,. In addition, the actual language in which information is written and presented is often a challenge with which platform managers are often confronted. Providing customized products and services in the national, regional and local ‘languages’ is demanding but also of utmost importance. This is particularly the case in countries where more than one native languages exist or in the case of platforms that cover a region that goes beyond national boundaries.

The Approach:

OPCC platform covers the Pyrenean transnational bio-geographic region and includes multiple countries. Hence, the language in which the information is presented is critical and determines in many cases, if stakeholders in different countries can use it to support their decisions. To overcome this challenge, OPCC platform has given attention at customising its services, not only in the context of providing information and data that are specific to the Pyrenean region, but also by ensuring that the provided information is available in all relevant languages, namely in Catalan, Spanish, French and English. Multilingual presentation of information and its relevant updates are not easy tasks by themselves. Ensuring also that there is enough time and resources for performing them, especially in cases where funding is not secured increases further this challenge.

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E. Design, technical and structural elements of a platform

Since adaptation platform often include very complex information, it is important to ensure that the valuable content is easily accessible and supported by the structure of the platform. Reflections and lessons learnt with regard to the choice of the Content Management System (CMS) and the design of the functionalities relate mainly to create a platform easy to manage and maintain as well as to make the layout and structure of the pages more user friendly. These include recommendations both for the system architecture and for the design of the platform layout.

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Design of the platform:

  • Organize the content in the best possible way, considering the platform layout standards of the hosting organisation (e. g. Switzerland, UK);
  • Make the platform layout as straightforward as possible;
  • Avoid having many separate windows on the screen;
  • Use short and precise interaction pathways (“3 clicks”);
  • Provide an option for printouts of search results; and
  • Provide an option for downloading main documents (preserving knowledge).
  • Since adaptation platforms contain very complex information the pages should be designed in a way that users are encouraged to further explore the platform. This can be done, for example, by offering contextual information for all features on the platform. This encourages users to further navigate by anticipating what they will see as a result of the next navigation step.

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Interactive features:

Many platforms have already, or are on the way to include interactive features to improve the access of the information presented in the knowledge base parts of the platforms and to support users’ needs in the adaptation policy process. The establishment of interactive features is often driven by the need to assist regional and local users in their practical needs to assess and use the information. Lessons learnt include:

  • Interactive features should be added ensuring that the necessary resources for moderating the interactive processes are available over time. For example, interactive forum functionalities for cities, committed to the Mayors Adapt Initiative, will be added to Climate-ADAPT in 2015. These will be maintained by the Mayors Adapt Initiative project consortium[7]).
  • Interactive maps are a well-established means to easy access complex information. For example, a map viewer functionality is being used to find case studies by location and sector (e. g., Climate-ADAPT).
  • Encouraging providers to submit information to a platform should be supported by the design of the functionalities. It means that, the functionalities for providing information to a platform should be established in a transparent way (see also section 2.2 B and C). For example, dashboard functionalities can be used in a way that providers can trace the status of the submitted information until the publication.

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Content Management System:

  • The Workflows, the respective roles and permission schemes for internal and external providers of a platform should be designed in the most practical and sustainable way to ensure a feasible platform maintenance (e. g., Climate-ADAPT).

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Platform examples:

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Enhancing the use of a nation platform by offering an interactive knowledge sharing for local users – Example France (http://www.developpement-durable.gouv.fr/-Impacts-et-adaptation-ONERC-.html)

Background:

The French national adaptation platform (http://www.developpement-durable.gouv.fr/-Impacts-et-adaptation-ONERC-.html) was launched in 2006 and further improved in 2009 as a support for the developed of the French National Plan of Adaptation to Climate Change (NAPCC). It is hosted by and embedded into the website of the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable development and Energy; MEDDE), which is in charge of adaptation. The content of the platform is being developed by the Observatoire national sur les effets du réchauffement climatique, ONERC (National Observatory on the effects of Climate Change) which is coordinating the adaptation activities in France since 2001.  In order to develop a strategic framework for adaptation the observatory works as a network with scientific bodies to develop and disseminate information on and recommendations for coping with the risks and effects on climate change and extreme weather climate events in mainland France and oversea territories.

The challenge:

The aim of the platform is not only to communicate adaptation information to the government, to the public, to the local authorities and to overseas. It should furthermore offer tools, indexes, reports and documents to help policy makers to deal with climate change challenges and to build their own adaptation strategies.

The approach:

In order to achieve the national adaptation platform goals two different approaches have been combined.

Firstly, the national platform provides the broad knowledge base for climate change adaptation in France, including methodological guideline, impacts examples, climate projection assessment, thematic reports, press releases, adaptation policy documents such as the NAPCC and the monitoring of the NAPCC. Furthermore, it includes links to relevant other information sources like IPCC as well as to further tools like the projections tools of Drias-climat. The homepage has been updated in 2011 in order to reach different kinds of users from adaptation specialists to beginners. It allows easy access to different data sets and indicators on climate change, impacts and vulnerabilities by a thematic approach. These are presented via links and visualization tools. Technical data (bibliography, research projects, and indexes) are gathered in the database part of the website. This platform plays makes also a major contribution to the valorization of the different IPCC volumes.

The second approach is the additional separate interactive platform WIKLIMAT (wiklimat.developpement-durable.gouv.fr), launched in 2013 as the “local window” to the national platform. It is also being hosted by MEDDE, and can be accessed from the national platform under the tab “local activities”. It has been developed by ONERC, as one of the research measures of the French National adaptation plan to Climate Change (PNACC 2011-2015). It contains sub-national climate change information as well as concrete local adaptation activities, e.g. first coastal preparations of relocation action. It is a wiki-based knowledge-sharing platform for climate change adaptation stakeholders, moderated by ONERC.  It has been created as a space where all interested users can publish local examples of adaptation actions and create discussions based on a personal account. Each record is accessible through three items: «Challenges», «environment» and «territories». The «knowledge / actors» category allows to identify easily the main bodies involved in adaptation. Each record is also accessible via GIS-based visualizations thanks to the Géoportail (platform of geo-localization) from the French National Institute for Geographic and Forest Information (IGN). The WIKLIMAT inputs come from public establishments or decentralized State services, thematic PNACC pilots, communities, offices of study and enterprises, NGOs. This information is available only in French.

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Dedicated design to serve expert dialogue - Example: Hungary (http://klimadialogus.mfgi.hu)

Background:

Carried out by the Geological and Geophysical Institute of Hungary, which is the background institute of the Ministry of National Development, the website has been launched in June 2013. It is being hosted by the National Adaptation Center, which belongs to the Geological and Geophysical Institute of Hungary (MFGI). This institute was in charge of the 2013 revision of the first National Climate Change Strategy (NCCS-2). Embedded into the website of the institute, the Klimadialogus platform has been created to share the Information and knowledge on likely impacts of climate change, prevention measures, and preparedness and adaptation measures. Its aim is to act as a network for consultation on strategic, professional issues, problems related to climate change (e.g. sharing background information and form opinions about position papers, strategies, draft laws, concepts, and studies). Beside the adaptation topic the platform also covers the topics on mitigation and awareness raising.

The Challenge:

Since the platform should be a place for constructive debates about climate change adaptation, possible mitigation practices and awareness-raising it is necessary to create a user-friendly layout and structure as well as user friendly functionalities. Since it is embedded in the website of the Geological and Geophysical Institute, the platform standards of the institute´s homepage have to be considered as a standard.

The approach:

The layout and structure as well as the majority of the platform functionalities have been designed to work as a means for building a network of climate change professionals and stakeholders supporting the adaptation policy process. Due to the main focus on the consultation process the basic feature of the platform is personal registration, and a visualisation of the profiles of the participating experts. The most important network feature are three subpages dedicated to the main topics (adaptation, mitigation and awareness raising) called “Forum”, where the experts can comment on documents. The network features are being managed by a moderator. Beside these network management functionalities the knowledge base of the policy process is presented on the platform by linking to the National Adaptation Center and its resources (subpages of research project descriptions, links to partner institutions, a news/events section and one tool (the National Adaptation Geo-Information System).

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Offering adaptation knowledge while coping with limiting technical platform standards - Example: Switzerland (www.bafu.admin.ch/klimaanpassung)

Background:

The platform, based on the Swiss Federal Council Mandate, has been launched in March 2012. It has been developed as a part of the FOEN website (Federal Office for the Environment). In order to support the decision making on Federal, sub-national (Canton) and municipal level, the platform aims to provide the most relevant information on climate change adaptation in Switzerland, to sensitize the main target audience and to empower the stakeholders to take adaptation action.

The challenge:

Due to the technical limitations, posed by the web Content Management System (CMS) of the Swiss Confederation for all Federal offices, the platform managers have to support their users while not being as comprehensive as national adaptation platforms in other countries. An additional challenge is due to another need of the publication regulations of the Swiss Federation: The content has to be released in three national languages (German, French, and Italian). This has to be considered while publishing and updating the content.

The approach:

The platform has been focused on the presentation of the most relevant content: the National Adaptation Strategy, adaptation in the Cantons, adaptation in the sectors, federal funding programme as well as responsibilities, publications and news. Information in the platform section “adaptation in the sectors”, is, as far as possible, being presented with three levels of information: 1) short descriptions, 2) web link, and 3) factsheets. Linking the different sections of the platform to other relevant sources of information is a successful approach to cope with the limited possibilities of platform flexibility. In order to publish the information in three languages the platform content is being presented in an identical manner for each language. Future plans include the integration of the platform into a comprehensive climate platform together with the MetOffice and other federal offices in the frame of establishing the Swiss National Centre for Climate Services.

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F. Monitoring, evaluating and improving a platform

A platform needs to be assessed in regards to multiple aspects, such as the relevance of the information presented for supporting the policy process, how well it functions (the speed and reliability (minimal outage time) of the site) as well as the appropriateness of the maintenance process.

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It should not only be assessed, whether it meets the current purpose, but also how it could meet user needs in the near future. Platforms can be adjusted to changing users’ needs via the presentation of additional knowledge or changes of platform functionality. Further development is being done due to new request by adaptation decision-makers and based on new or improved adaptation knowledge and experience. It furthermore determined by improved IT technologies as well as by the availability of the financial resources (see also section 2.1 F).

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Some countries have already carried out internal platform evaluations, such as Germany, Finland and Sweden. Others recognise that they will need to evaluate their platforms and have it planned for the future, but have not yet started the process (e.g. Poland are planning their M&E scheme for 2015, and Switzerland for 2017. The evaluation of Climate-ADAPT envisaged in the frame of the evaluation of the EU Adaptation Strategy in 2017). No external platform evaluations have been planned or carried out.

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Adjustments may be made before a platform goes live or as part of a periodic review process. There are various things to consider with regards to the monitoring and evaluating and improving platforms.

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Monitoring:

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Lessons learnt regarding the monitoring of a platform´s use include:

Feedback from users is a critical component of monitoring and evaluating the platform and its content. The most common approach is the collection and interpretation of web statistics. Since the interpretation of the statistics does not allow to base solid recommendations for the platform development in most cases different forms of the collection of individual user feedback are being used (see also section 2.1 F). Examples of means of securing users’ views and feedback include:

  • Use of online surveys related to specific content, formats and functionality (e.g., Ireland);
  • Introducing a “contact button” that provides users with opportunities to provide direct feedback, ask for help or support, send comments, describe their expectations and opinions, or become involved in a platform network (e.g., The Netherlands and Poland);
  • An open Facebook group has been established which provides news and opportunities for users to comment on postings (e.g. Finland);
  • Collecting feedback during meetings, conferences and events, and by using bilateral contacts (e. g., Climate-ADAPT) or asking users via email or newsletters (e.g., Austria, Germany);
  • Regularly check the user-friendliness of the information and knowledge presented. User-friendliness influences if and how users will perceive, and the extent to which they will access and utilize, the information and knowledge presented a platform;
    • Check the effectiveness of marketing strategies. The effectiveness of the marketing strategy, developed for the Irish platform, will be assessed through web analytics, e.g. number of new and returning visitors.

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Evaluation

Evaluating the success of a platforms requires to refer to the aim or the mandate of a platform which can change over time. The results of the evaluation help to make informed decisions about the possible adjustments of platform.

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There are different ways of evaluating how the platform is performing and generally a multi-stranded approach has been adopted.

  • For example, in Sweden this has included: Feed-back through the networking authorities, visiting numbers checked every half year, yearly evaluation of quality and content through a survey and a QA/QC process done on a case-by-case basis with the responsibility on those providing the information.
  • Other evaluation models being used are evaluations supported by consultants, including  analyses of the state of the art, the platform content and functionalities as well as the development of  generic user types (“personas”) to regularly check the fulfilment of user needs (e.g., Germany).
  • Use the criteria developed for the QA/QC process of the platform maintenance as a basis for the evaluation of the platform.

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Further development:

In order to find the best solution for further developments it is recommended to use the results of evaluations carried out regularly. Using appropriate processes to develop the decisions on the further development and to communicate them can also be a way to better promote the use of the platform in adaptation policy, planning and implementation.

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  • The adopted processes are dependent on the resources available to establish and maintain such processes.
  • In many cases the platforms’ content and functionality are continuously being reviewed and improved. This can be both as a result of user feedback and the creation of new knowledge and information. E.g. Sweden is currently updating the portal. This includes a re-design of the section on tools, the further development of the bank of adaptation examples to cover additional geographical and topical areas, the collection of more information about the effects of climate change on society from partner authorities, especially those that are new to the work. Furthermore, new and improved calendar function for adaptation-related events will be developed.
  • Creating and maintaining engagement with users, providers and collaborators (e.g. networks such as the EIONET linked to EEA and relevant for Climate-ADAPT and linkages with national platforms). Establishing close contacts and communication with individuals whether they are developers, managers, users and knowledge providers is essential to further develop, evaluate and improve the information and knowledge available and their presentation.

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Platform examples:

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Monitoring and evaluating a platform run by several partners in a consistent way - Example Climateguide.fi (Finland)

The background:

The Climatguide.fi platform started in 2009 and became operational in 2011. It was being developed as a LIFE+ project funded platform until 2012 to serve the adaptation knowledge needs of municipalities. The platform was further maintained by research institutions like the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), with some support from the Aalto University YTK Land Use Planning and Urban Studies Group from then, covering also regional and national level information. In 2014, a contextual link was established to the revision of the National Adaptation Strategy, but the portal has not been directly connected to the Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture, leading the NAS process.

The challenge:

Since different partners are maintaining different content parts of the portal and the connection to the policy process is not institutionalized it is a challenge to get the funding for the evaluation process and to evaluate the platform in a consistent way.

The approach:

Different means are being used to monitor and evaluate the platform. One person in the role of a “science editor” is monitoring the platform content, collecting user feedback and proposing further development needs. Since the platform is not directly managed by the institution leading the national adaptation policy process the evaluation is linked to the goals of the involved research institutions.

The evaluation is being carried out in a twofold way: Firstly, the evaluation of the content and recommendations for further development of the platform is being done based on the results of specific expert workshops. Based on an overview of the contents, detailed web information on the use and a general presentation of infographics the results of the evaluation will be discussed in these workshops, and recommendations for the further platform development will be made. The infographics are being provided by a visualisation project, funded by a foundation devoted to science information. Secondly, evaluations by internal users as “new users” of the portal are also been used as direct feedback on areas and topics that need to be improved.

Based on this information an informal group consisting of the institutions is regularly discussing the ideas for further development of the platform and recommending them for external funding.

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Modifying the adaptation platform based on a comprehensive systematic evaluation - Example: Germany www.anpassung.net[8]

Background:

The platform, hosted by the Federal Environment Agency of Germany (UBA) since the beginning, was launched in 2008.. The platform was designed to support the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUB) in charge of the development of the National Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan. Furthermore, it was designed to serve as a national clearinghouse on adaptation for all relevant stakeholders. While the hosting of the platform was funded by UBA, the development of new features. (e.g., a project data base, was only based on federal project funding).

The challenge:

Having the platform in place several years and developing it step-wise in order to cope with the growing demands of the main stakeholders in the adaptation policy process there was a growing need to determine the further development of the platform on the basis of a systematic evaluation.

The approach:

Mainly supported by project funding the content of the knowledge presented on the adaptation platform has been analysed based on defined categories and criteria and in comparison to other adaptation platforms at European, national and regional level. Based on an online survey with 172 stakeholders from different public institutions, business associations, NGO´s and media user´s needs have been analysed and compiled. In order to find a common understanding of the main user group needs 6 fictional user types (personas) have been developed. Recommendations for an improved presentation of the platform content have been made in order to adjust the platform development to these target audiences. Based on an analysis of the technical conditions supported by web-statistics a more user friendly layout and structure of the platform content and functionalities have been recommended. As a result of the evaluation the thematic platform has been transformed in a way that it can be used by stepping from an introductory landing page with easy understandable language into different information layers with more complex and technical information.  The increase of subscribers of the platform newsletter is an indication of the successful transformation of the platform. The six user types (personas) are constantly being used as correctives for all steps of the further platform development.

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G. Linking across sectors, scales and platforms

Establishing links across sectors, scales and platforms and promoting a two-way sharing and exchange of knowledge is important for the provision of relevant and high quality information. Links and exchange should be enabled between users, developers, researchers, other platforms, projects, policy fields like DRR, and governance levels (from local to international). These are aspects that have been highlighted by multiple platform owners and developers. Important things to consider include:

  • Improving exchange, coordination and cooperation between countries and platforms. This exchanging and sharing is important to make best use of synergies, learn from each other and to avoid duplication. It may also reduce the administrative and financial burden.  These may include streamlining visuals across platforms, transfer of case studies and working towards common “regions” or ‘sectors’ pages.
  • Enhancing the emerging experience of collaboration and linking web-based adaptation platforms with climate services and with DRR platforms across Europe.  The need to strengthen these for the mutual benefit of the platforms and users is being recognised, including within Horizon 2020 and within the Climate Knowledge Brokers Group[9].
  • Ensuring linkages with new platforms that are working in relevant policy fields. This is particularly important for time-restricted project-based platforms.

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Promoting cooperation and networking among stakeholders responsible for adaptation policy and practice. This can be done, through workshops, conferences, expert dialogues and cooperation exchanges on climate adaptation.  It includes setting up of interactions among communities of users and the use of their websites and other media to demonstrate adaptation in action. Next steps could include further exchange of experiences and efforts to better understand complementarity, e.g., through EEA EIONET workshops and collaboration between EEA and countries (e.g. more frequent interactions, through e.g. webinars).

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Models used for linking s across sectors, scales and platforms are:

  • Establishing long-term links between science, policy and practice including sector authorities (e. g. Netherlands and Germany);
  • Establishing links with different organisations, institutes and divisions through different processes and relevant projects with the aim of ensuring a good exchange of information. For example,  in Finland the adaptation platform (Climateguide.fi) focuses on providing information regarding changing climate with a separate platform for climate services. That focuses more on climate monitoring and communication on present climate variability. The DRR platform focuses on real time services e.g. warnings. A regular exchange on the platform takes place between the Governments steering group for climate information. This is a group consisting of information officers from all relevant Ministries and the hosts of the platforms.
  • In some cases there even closer links where there is no separation between adaptation and DRR. For example, in the Netherlands they are covered in the same portal with information on evacuation, early warning, real time visualisation and floods. In addition the same organisations are responsible for both climate change adaptation and DRR namely Deltarres and the Ministry of Water Safety.
  • Links between platforms are also being actively used to promote adaptation activities on other platforms (e. g., in the UK).

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Platform examples:

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Platforms providing cross-cutting information - Example: Climate Adaptation Knowledge Platform for the Alps (http://www.c3alps.eu/kip,

Background:

The Climate Adaptation Knowledge Platform for the Alps is a project-based adaptation platform coordinated by the Environment Agency Austria. Its development was co-funded by the Alpine Space programme, through the European Regional Development Fund-European Territorial Cooperation 2007-2013. The planning of the platform started in 2011, followed by the conceptualisation phase in 2012 and its technical implementation in 2013. The platform is online and fully operational since October 2014, while advancements and additional developments are being implemented regularly. The main aims of the platform are to collect knowledge relevant for the Alps; to compare, analyse and synthesize the knowledge to assure it is complete and practically sound; to organize and prepare the knowledge to make it useful and practical; to target group oriented information products with an easy access via the web portal; and to provide smart search options. A core group of partners (Environment Agency Austria, European Academy Bolzano, Paris-Lodron University Salzburg) is responsible for the conceptual and technical development of the platform, while all C3-Alps partners and external experts contributed to content development. Information on the platform is provided in multiple languages (DE, FR, IT, Sl, EN).

The challenge:

One of the main challenges when managing a platform is to ensure the provision of accessible, relevant and usable information that meet the needs of the key users. This challenge augments when looking at large geographical areas that cross national borders, as the information that is usually available is very context or country specific. In such cases, there is a great need to cut across scales, sectors and areas and to identify and present information that refers to larger geographic scopes, coverage elements and sectors.

The approach:

The main drivers of the C3Alps project were related to the need to capitalize and make available over the long term the increasing quantity of knowledge about the Alpine region that was produced by European and national funded programmes. Some of the identified gaps addressed by the platform include the coverage of transnational Alpine Space cooperation area (i.e. all Alpine countries and their territories); the coverage of specific bio-geophysical elements of the Alps that are not covered by national and European platforms; the provision of information about items relevant from transnational to municipality scale; and the language awareness by providing access to original information in multiple native languages.

The Climate Adaptation Knowledge platform for the Alps covers all types of knowledge products (studies, reports, tools, interactive online resources etc.) and gives direct access to the original resources. The contents are comprehensive in thematic scope. They are organized and searchable by adaptation sectors, adaptation knowledge domains. These are future climate - scenarios, projections; climate impacts, vulnerabilities and risks; adaptation policies; adaptation options; tools and methods; adaptation in practice, process stages of the adaptation cycle, and target groups. Selection of items, organisation of the inventory and design of search functionalities put particular emphasis on cross-cutting aspects. The platform is planned to be inter-operational opening the door to further linkages. These could include DRR and climate services if they are developed for the region.

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Enhancing the use and transfer of knowledge by establishing links between platforms

Example: AdapteCCa Spain (www.adaptecca.es)

Background:

The planning of the Spanish adaptation platform, AdapteCCa, started in 2010. This was an initiative of the Spanish Office for Climate Change, the Biodiversity Foundation and the units in charge of the adaptation to climate change in the Autonomous Communities, which jointly identified the need for this tool, and was followed by a mandate. The platform became fully operational in 2013. Its development followed a wide participatory process and it was in full alignment with the objectives and structure of the National Adaptation Framework. The ultimate aim of the platform is to reinforce the governance of National Adaptation Plan to Climate Change (PNACC), to provide a tool to exchange information knowledge and experience on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, as well as to enhance multidirectional communication and coordination among administrations and key stakeholders both public and private. In its current version, AdapteCCa provides information on climate change impacts and adaptation for many sectors, geographical areas and ecological systems that have been identified as vulnerable in Spain. Through this it aims to integrate adaptation in planning and management. Information on the platform is available in Spanish and English.

The challenge:

Taking into account the limited resources available for producing new knowledge and tools, the platform management valued it as important to enhance the transfer of information and expertise in order to make the best possible use of existing knowledge and to avoid the duplication of work. To achieve this, there is a need to identify and to establish ways that would enhance the synergistic links between different platforms and benefit from their individual strengths.

The approach:

Bidirectional flux of information is an efficient way to improve learning and to minimise duplication of work when producing new knowledge and tools. For this purpose considerable efforts have been undertaken to establish links between AdapteCCa and other platforms of different scales (e.g., EU, national, regional), sectors (e.g., Observatory of health and climate change) and areas (e.g., climate services).

Strong links have been already developed between AdapteCCa and regional level platforms. These aim primarily to establish a group work space and complement each platform through sharing of information and offering of documents and tools. Links with European level have also been prominently highlighted. Reinforcing the coordination with Climate-ADAPT has been so far one of the main foci of the work undertaken in AdapteCCa. This is expected to continue further in the future. Future plans may focus on creating a specific protocol or standards for this purpose. Specific plans have been designed with reference to the case studies, based on a proposal to link the case studies that appear on the Climate-ADAPT platform with those of AdapteCCa.

Developing links with other sectors (e.g., climate services) is also seen of great importance. In its current version, users of AdapteCCa are given the opportunity to search and interact with the AEMET platform[10] by selecting climate scenarios. Disaster Risk Reduction is also another relevant area. Although there are no links at the moment, this element is expected to improve in the future.

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Establishing dialogue between platforms and sectors to provide a complete set of information for adaptation issues- Example: Sweden (www.klimatanpassning.se)

Background:

The Swedish Portal for Climate Change Adaptation is hosted by the National Knowledge Centre for Climate Change Adaptation, which is based at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute. After a couple of years of running on a voluntary basis, in 2012 the Knowledge Centre was set up and provided the opportunity to restart the portal. The platform contains information about climate change and its effects, risk management, short and long-term adaptation, and adaptation planning. Furthermore, it contains examples of how climate change adaptation can be integrated into the daily work, and latest news on adaptation, internationally and in Sweden. Information is available in Swedish and part of this is also translated in English. Its main objectives are to support society and citizens to prepare for the consequences of climate change, to increase interest and understanding of adaptation among general public, to serve as the national focal point for information about adaptation, and to give an overview and links to information on other web sites. Currently, it is supported by the cooperation between Swedish governmental agencies, municipalities and county councils.

The challenge:

Sharing of knowledge and information among different platforms and/or sectors has the potential to provide a thorough overview of the adaptation related issues, even when the information produced specifically for/by an individual platform is limited. To achieve this aim, efforts of platform managers should focus on establishing a framework to ensure an on-going dialogue and communication between key actors, as well as to incentivise and support their cooperation.

The approach:

The Swedish Portal for Climate Change Adaptation contains only little unique information. Yet, it aims to provide an overview of the relevant adaptation issues. In attempts to achieve this aim, it has established strong links to other European platforms, as well as between science, policy and practice. In its current version, it is supported by links to further information, sites, databases and applications. The web portal is dependent on the contributions of the partner authorities, but also from regional and local stakeholders. The portal is already closely connected to the Swedish Meteorological Service platform (smhi.se), ensuring a close relationship with the national climate services. Furthermore, it has achieved a good cooperation with the National Disaster Risk Reduction platform, which is hosted by the Civil Contingency Agency. At regular intervals a dialogue is held between the agencies to gradually develop the platform. There is also a discussion between the Nordic portals and EU portals.

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Supporting adaptation by linking up through sectors and other platforms -  Example: UK

Background:

The provision of climate adaptation services within the UK has undergone a number of changes reflecting the development of the adaptation agenda and its delivery within the UK, the different levels of responsibility for adaptation and the UK government’s policy on the provision of government information and services. The UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) was funded by Government between 1997 and 2012 and launched its website in 2000[11]. Since April 2012, the Environment Agency has provided the UK Government´s Climate Ready Support Service to advise and support the public sector, businesses and other organisations to enable them to adapt to the changing climate. From 2013 onwards, adaptation (transactional and policy related) information and services have been available on the UK government’s website (www.gov.uk) with Defra[12] providing updates. The Environment Agency does not host its own adaptation platform, but disseminates information via gov.uk and partner organisations such as Climate UK and Climate Local.

The challenge:

One of the biggest challenges for the UK is continuing to support adaptation action across the UK, including the provision of guidance where appropriate and other non-transactional information and services.

The approach:

The approach within the UK is supporting action through working with different sectors, partnerships and through other adaptation platforms operating at different levels. GOV.UK (developed, managed and funded by the UK government) provides the latest information on government action and policy on adapting to climate change within the UK. It sets out the legal requirements under the Climate Change Act (2008) for the five-yearly Climate Risk Assessment, National Adaptation Programme and the adaptation reporting power. It also includes links to key partner organisations.

The Climate Ready Support Service[13] delivered by the Environment Agency provides tailored sector support to help the public sector and businesses in England adapt to climate change. It delivers online tools and guidance through a range of partner websites with local audiences, including Climate UK[14] and Climate Local[15]. Adaptation information and knowledge are also disseminated in each of Scotland[16], Northern Ireland[17], and Wales[18].



[1]http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/themen/klima-energie/klimafolgen-anpassung/werkzeuge-der-anpassung/tatenbank

[2] COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 601/2012 of 21 June 2012 on the monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions pursuant to Directive 2003/87/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council MMR

[3] DG CLIMA service contract Mayors Adapt

[4] http://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/en/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=593659fe-c206-4ee5-9bc2-f819d803a7ac&groupId=18.

[5] http://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/en/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=593659fe-c206-4ee5-9bc2-f819d803a7ac&groupId=18.

[6] http://www.cbss.org/

[7] DG CLIMA service contract 340202/2014/691839/SER/CLIMA.C.3 Implementation of the urban adaptation initiative within the framework of the "Covenant of Mayors".

[8] The URL is referring to the new location of the platform included into the website of the Federal Environment Agency of Germany http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/en/topics/climate-energy/climate-impacts-adaptation

[9] http://www.climateknowledgebrokers.net/.

[10] AEMET is the platform responsible for the climate services in Spain and in charge of coordinating the climate scenario development.

[11] UKCIP and its adaptation platform (www.ukcip.org.uk) still exist but its platform is now funded by UKCIP and the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University

[12] Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

[13] The Climate Ready Support Service and its delivery through partner organisations is funded by Defra on behalf of the UK Government

[14] http://climateuk.net/

[15] http://www.local.gov.uk/climate-local/

[16] http://www.adaptationscotland.org.uk/1/1/0/Home.aspx funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by Sniffer (knowledge brokers for a resilient Scotland)

[17] http://www.climatenorthernireland.org.uk/ funded by the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland

[18] http://thecccw.org.uk/ funded by the Welsh Government

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