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Applying the adaptation pathway approach to increase resilience to flooding: experiences and outlook from the city of Bilbao

Flooding is a well-known impact, which cause nowadays several problems ranging from economic loses to productivity reduction and deaths. Moreover, IPCC´s (2014) projections foresee coastal flooding as one of the main global impacts. Having this context, specific governance models are required to adapt and enhance resilience of the affected territory.

In this regard, adaptation pathway emerges as an innovative and flexible approach which foster an iterative and adaptive governance and address the climate uncertainty challenge. This approach has been addressed in different case studies previously, which represent different contexts: heat, flood and water supply pathways in London; heat adaptation pathway in Antwerp; or flood adaptation pathways in Thames Estuary, Rhine-Meuse delta, Lake IJssel and New York. Looking to these studies it can be concluded that the adaptation pathway is a good approach to be applied at city or sector level and for analyzing different impacts. But, the same studies also detected the needs for further research: in the assumptions made for the acceptable threshold detection (which served for the adaptation objectives definition); or the estimation of the effectiveness and co-benefits as well as implementation conditions and timeline of the measures which enhance the resilience.

The present work investigates the adaptation pathway potential within 3 main objectives: i) explore how the methodology can be simplified (balancing qualitative versus quantitative information); ii) explore the way of sequencing of the adaptation measures into the pathway (additional criteria like life-time, implementation time, costs, etc.); iii) explore the visualization on the pathway. To go through the identified objectives the pathway approach is applied in the city of Bilbao for the flood effect on transport system. As results a selection of the best alternative options for climate flooding risk management are presented and the lessons learned and challenges of this approach for further development are described.

Keywords: Adaptation pathway; governance; flexible; resilience; flood