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Drier And Warmer Weather For Santiago De Chile

January 24, 2013

Scientists from Chile and Germany present recommendations of how to adapt the Latin American Megacity to climate change

Already nowadays ten per cent or more of the population in the Metropolitan Region of Santiago de Chile is affected by extreme heat or floods. These threats will tend to increase due to the continuous expansion of the Chilean capital, the consequent changes in land use and the influences of climate change. Because of that, the international research project ClimateAdaptationSantiago (CAS) has developed, during the last three years, an Adaptation Plan to climate change for the metropolitan region and has handed it over to the Regional Government and the Regional Secretary of the Ministry of Environment. This Plan was developed by German and Chilean scientists working at the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT), the Universidad de Chile and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, in the frame of an intensive participative process together which multiple local actors.

The adaptation plan is the answer to the climate changes and impacts for the metropolitan region, likewise estimated in within the scope of the project. The scientists of the CAS-Project expect significant changes till the year 2050. According to that, they count with an increase of one to two degree Celsius in the yearly average maximum and minimum temperatures; with it, the days with temperatures above 30 degree Celsius will most likely also increase. Precipitations instead, could decrease up to a 20%. In fact, precipitation will concentrate on fewer days than today and, as a consequence, the risk of floods will rise, according to the scenarios. Given the growing population and further expansion of the city, combined with the predicted climate changes, the scientists expect problems in the water and energy supply, as well as an increase in the population potentially exposed to extreme heat and floods.

The 14 measures, developed jointly by scientists and the involved stakeholders, include among others, the creation of a monitoring system, more green areas in the city and the usage of existing irrigation canals in the Andean piedmont to reduce the risk of floods. Furthermore, measures are recommended oriented to increase participation and information for the population, and a program to establish cooling roofs for lower-income households. The implementation of the Plan and its measures is supported by the GORE and the SEREMI MA. In accordance to that, a public consultancy of the Plan is scheduled for the next months and further concrete steps towards implementation are also planned.

Furthermore, in the frame of the CAS-Project a Regional Learning Network with scientists and decision-makers was built, in cooperation with the UN CEPAL. This network includes six Latin American megacities (Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Lima, México, Santiago de Chile and São Paulo). This Regional Learning Network of scientists and decision-makers was established with the aim of comprehending and discussing the “practical status” of urban adaptation to climate change, as well as of fostering the exchange between the cities in the region. Within the research project, three workshops were organized to reach these aims. “The first workshop addressed the scientific exchange, the second intended to strengthen the exchange between decision-makers in different administration levels in the cities and the third workshop brought the two groups together”, informed Dr. Kerstin Krellenberg from UFZ, who has coordinated the CAS-Project.

The work in the frame of the CAS-Project was financially supported by the International Climate Protection Initiative of the Federal Ministry of Environment (BMU). The Adaptation Plan is a shared result of close cooperation between politics, practice and science. Ten round tables, which were organized by the Project over the three years of project duration in Santiago, constituted the core element of the cooperation.

The work in Santiago is not done with this: an international cooperation between scientists of the Department of Urban and Environmental Sociology at the UFZ and scientists at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile was successful during the first phase of funding round of Helmholtz International Research Groups. The Chilean-German investigation group will concentrate during the next three years on additional options of adaptation to climate change at local level in Latin-American cities on the basis of urban vulnerability.

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