Problem definition


The very first step in developing an adaptation strategy, is the notion that there is a problem or issue that has to be dealt with. This step concerns the clarification of the problem or issue at hand as well as the investigation of the current reasons that drive the quest for an adaptation strategy as this can help in defining the problem the city faces.


The investigation whether there is a problem can be conducted without prior knowledge or information, as it concerns the first exploratory movement towards an overview of the consequences of climate change for the urban environment.

Starting a problem definition is often driven from external signals that point towards future negative consequences for the urban area. Possible sources of these signals could encompass:

  • news bulletins (tv/newspaper/other);
  • scientific articles;
  • extreme weather events;
  • questions raised from within the administration or organization;
  • questions raised from activist groups or concerned citizens;
  • higher level policies imposed on the city;
  • requests from external parties (e.g. civilians asking for more green e.g.).


A description of the problem the city or asset faces in relation to climate change and how it came to light. The description should also include the way this problem, in general, will be addressed, including an end result of process.


  • Gather the input that lead to this investigation
  • Check validity of input with experts; take this opportunity to get their input on the subject
  • Check possible impact claims with experts; take this opportunity to get their input on the subject
  • Determine whether the results warrant a climate adaptation strategy
  • Formulate the first, rough goals for the climate adaptation strategy. This will serve as a point of departure in the following steps to develop and enhance.

This step is just a first notion that there is a problem that requires attention. Further details of the problem will be investigated in next steps. An example of problem definition could be:

“Current flooding events have raised the question to what extent city X is vulnerable to extreme precipitation events due to climate change. The city wants to get a clear picture of the possible impacts of climate change on the city and how it can cope with these, resulting, within a time frame of 2 years, in a plan for adaptation.”


No experience available yet.


In 2012, the Bratislava successfully participated in the EU Cities Adapt Programme. This participation resulted in the development of a strategy for adaptation to the adverse impacts of climate change in Bratislava, which was approved by the Resolution of the City Council No. 1659/2014 on 24 September 2014. This project guided Bratislava in the different stages of the process of developing the adaptation strategy and a large part of the document is dedicated to scoping. From this experience we strongly recommend in the scoping stage to start with a top down approach, meaning you might first want to look at information that is part of nationwide strategic documents which deal with climate change (such as a national adaptation strategy or action plan, etc.) or on the other mitigation of climate change impacts (such as national policies in different sectors such as energy or transport, waste management, etc.). Focus on defined problem areas that relate to urban environment in these documents. Then move on to regional policies and finally the different policies and strategic documents your city is developing (or other municipal authorities´ documents – such as policies or documents of city boroughs).

Supporting tools and methods

No tools or methods found to support this step.