Using insurance data to improve resilience to climate change

The city of Barcelona partnered with Cetaqua (Water Technology Centre) and 15 other institutions in the RESCCUE project to use insurance data in the development of a methodology that prioritises the adaptation measures to take and contributes to the updated version of the Barcelona Climate Plan.

Barcelona, due to its geographic position, is prone to experiencing urban floo-ding, combined sewer overflow during heavy storm events, drought, heatwaves, and sea level rise. The occurrence of these hazards is expected to increase due to the influence of climate change. In 2008, the Spanish city suffered its worst drought in the last 70 years. This was one of the triggers for Barcelona to consolidate its data with private partners’ to develop innovative tools for building urban climate resilience. The main focus of Barcelona in this project was the water sector, since water-related risks can have a significant impact on the correct functioning of the city’s urban services and its energy supply. Barcelona facilitated general communication and sharing of climate related data between the project partners and five institutions: the Spanish Meteorological Agency, Catalan Meteorological Service, Meteogrid, Spanish State Ports and Barcelona Cicle de l’Aigua. The latter was created by the City Council to manage the entire water cycle in Barcelona.

There is a huge challenge and gap in sharing information among water operators, public authorities and the private sector to help Barcelona decision makers. Therefore, assessing, planning and monitoring urban resilience calls for a more cooperative and integrated approach. In this regard, RESCCUE has developed flood depth-da-mage curves tailored for Barcelona. The curves indicate the permeability of buildings to help determine the vulnerability of elements at risk in Barcelona. These curves help the Spanish city to estimate the economic impact of floods, as well as resilience assessment, planning and management. These results helped identify the most vulnerable areas and revealed that improving the city resilience translates into potential economic savings.

The tools described above, and some others, have provided the city of Barcelona with the knowledge and necessary information to update and enhance the Barcelona Climate Plan. One of the most important results is the better understanding of the links between city services in their efforts to tackle climate events. As part of the project’s results, a set of Geographical Information System (GIS) maps showing flood risks to Barcelona city services will be made publicly available in the resilience platform of the city council. Additionally, the data analysis carried out within RESCCUE has been used to update and confirm Barcelona’s climate projection dataset. These results will be used to plan climate adaptation actions such as retention tanks to absorb the greatest amount of rainwater in future weather events. Finally, the prioritisation method of adaptation measures to deal with climate impacts, proposed by Cetaqua, has been a useful tool to facilitate decision making processes within the city council.

Case study developed by the Covenant of Mayors – Europe Office.