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Hungarian regions and cities towards an adaptive future - analysis of climate change strategies on different spatial levels


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Nowadays, urban areas are increasingly identified as strategic fields of climate change-related actions. Climate change is an increasingly complex challenge for these territories. Tackling climate change, moreover, in a sustainable way, is a priority in the European Union, which has set several ambitious short- and long-term mitigation, adaptation, and sustainability targets. It is a central issue of how society can respond to the climate emergency that is affected by and depends on the vertical and horizontal interrelations among different stakeholders, organizations, governance actors, etc., and their activities. Countries, regions, counties, and cities around the world react by developing climate strategies. The operationalization of the high-level political agreements and discourses is uncertain, and the policies in practice should also be evaluated on regional and city levels, just as the milestones of related strategic planning processes fostering local adaptive capacity. According to regional and urban governance, it is pivotal addressing not only mitigation but adaptation issues to be able to foster sustainable regional development, also considering the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) specified in the Agenda 2030. Adaptation to climate change is increasingly becoming a priority for policy action. It also has high relevance to find the synergic interrelations towards an adaptive future. This paper evaluates the recent changes in Hungarian regional and urban planning in relation to climate policy approach and reports a state of adaptation oriented spatial planning on NUTS-3 (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) and LAU-1 (Local Administrative Units) levels. The results are based on the collection of all relevant climate change-related strategic documents on these levels in Hungary and on the analysis of specific information. There is a lack of knowledge related to the comprehensive adaptation policy and planning on regional and local levels in Hungary. The results of the evaluation show the state-of-art knowledge related to possible adaptation pathways and the various engagement level for climate policy approach on different spatial levels in Hungary. In the case of the examined research area, the development of more mitigation oriented planning documents and low level of adaptation measures and monitoring process management tools is seen as critical.
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Quarterly Journal of the Hungarian Meteorological Service
Vol. 124, No. 2, April – June, 2020, pp. 253–276
Hungarian regions and cities towards an adaptive future –
analysis of climate change strategies on different
spatial levels
Mária Szalmáné Csete * and Attila Buzási
Department of Environmental Economics
Budapest University of Technology and Economics
Magyar tudósok krt. 2., H-1117, Budapest, Hungary
*Corresponding Author e-mail:
(Manuscript received in final form January 23, 2020)
Abstract Nowadays, urban areas are increasingly identified as strategic fields of climate
change-related actions. Climate change is an increasingly complex challenge for these
territories. Tackling climate change, moreover, in a sustainable way, is a priority in the
European Union, which has set several ambitious short- and long-term mitigation, adaptation,
and sustainability targets. It is a central issue of how society can respond to the climate
emergency that is affected by and depends on the vertical and horizontal interrelations among
different stakeholders, organizations, governance actors, etc., and their activities. Countries,
regions, counties, and cities around the world react by developing climate strategies. The
operationalization of the high-level political agreements and discourses is uncertain, and the
policies in practice should also be evaluated on regional and city levels, just as the milestones
of related strategic planning processes fostering local adaptive capacity. According to regional
and urban governance, it is pivotal addressing not only mitigation but adaptation issues to be
able to foster sustainable regional development, also considering the UN Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) specified in the Agenda 2030. Adaptation to climate change is
increasingly becoming a priority for policy action. It also has high relevance to find the
synergic interrelations towards an adaptive future. This paper evaluates the recent changes in
Hungarian regional and urban planning in relation to climate policy approach and reports a
state of adaptation oriented spatial planning on NUTS-3 (Nomenclature of Territorial Units
for Statistics) and LAU-1 (Local Administrative Units) levels. The results are based on the
collection of all relevant climate change-related strategic documents on these levels in
Hungary and on the analysis of specific information. There is a lack of knowledge related to
the comprehensive adaptation policy and planning on regional and local levels in Hungary.
The results of the evaluation show the state-of-art knowledge related to possible adaptation
pathways and the various engagement level for climate policy approach on different spatial
levels in Hungary. In the case of the examined research area, the development of more
mitigation oriented planning documents and low level of adaptation measures and monitoring
process management tools is seen as critical.
Key-words: climate strategies, SECAP-Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan,
adaptation pathways, sustainable regional development, NUTS-3, LAU-1, Hungary
1. Introduction
Reducing adverse effects of climate change by taking into consideration both
mitigation and adaption activities are at the forefront in current policies
(European Commission, 2011; UNFCCC, 2015) and international scientific
interests (Sharifi and Yamagata, 2016; Mendizabal et al., 2018). Dated back to
Agenda 21 proposals from the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, various spatial levels
are urged by the UN at the end of the Climate Summit in 20191 to develop and
to perform concrete actions and implementations in the field of climate change.
Hungary is facing numerous challenges regarding changing climatic
patterns (Bartholy et al., 2007, 2009; Szépszó, 2008; Krüzselyi et al., 2011;
Torma et al., 2011; Pongrácz et al., 2013, 2014; Kis et al., 2017); therefore, it
can be stated that climate change adaptation is a crucial part of the long-term
sustainability in the center of the Carpathian Basin. Based on the review of the
international literature, numerous studies regarding climate adaptation in a
Hungarian context can be found concerning various relevant sectors, such as
tourism (Csete et al., 2013; Kovács and Unger, 2014; Csete and Szécsi, 2015;
Kovács et al., 2017); natural assets (Malatinszky et al., 2013; Mezösi et al.,
2013; Hlásny et al., 2014; Mezősi et al., 2014; Szabó et al., 2016); human health
(Páldy et al., 2005; Páldy and Bobvos, 2010; Solymosi et al., 2010; Törő et al.,
2010; Bobvos et al., 2015); agriculture (Jolánkai and Birkás, 2007;
Zemankovics, 2012; Gaál et al., 2014; Li et al., 2017a, 2018); water
management (Werners et al., 2009; Lóczy, 2010; Blanka et al., 2013; Mezösi et
al., 2013; Rojas et al., 2013); energy supply and demand from different
perspectives (Bartholy et al., 2003; Tánczos and Török, 2007; Szlávik and Csete,
2012; Hrabovszky-Horváth et al., 2013); transport (Szendrő et al., 2014); or
urban development issues (Csete and Horváth, 2012; Czakó, 2013; Buzási,
2014; Csete and Buzási, 2016; Li et al., 2017b; Kántor et al., 2018). Apart from
the relative richness of literature with regards to adaptation issues, highly
heterogeneous knowledge can be found if we try to analyze climate adaptation
activities on a different spatial level. On NUTS-1 level (countries), among other
things, Berkhout et al. (2015), Heidrich et al. (2016), and Pietrapertosa et al.
(2018) aimed at comparing climate change policies and plans, however, the
regional and local scale regarding analysis of climate change strategies and other
related thematic development plans is almost completely lacking with an
emphasis on adaptation issues in Hungary. It is worth mentioning that some
studies have been dealing with a comparison of local climate plans across
Europe (Heidrich et al., 2013; Reckien et al., 2014, 2015, 2018); however, the
selection of analyzed Hungarian cities is based on their total population;
therefore, a small pool of Hungarian settlements have been involved and
evaluated. Cities or more precisely, local level play a crucial role in climate
adaptation activities (Rosenzweig et al., 2010; Hunt and Watkiss, 2011; Millard-
Ball, 2013; Wamsler et al., 2013; Ürge-Vorsatz et al., 2018), but NUTS-3 level
is often out of scope of analysis of climate change plans from both mitigation
and adaptation point of view, while counties are highly important actors on
climate adaptation issues in Hungary. During the previous years, numerous
Hungarian cities and counties were engaged in developing their climate
strategies to reduce GHG emissions and to be prepared concerning changing
climatic patterns and the adverse of climate change. Based on previously stated
reasons, the present study aims at analyzing climate strategies of Hungarian
counties and county seats by paying particular attention to adaptation issues.
Relationships between planning procedures and outcomes of the selected
strategies are analyzed; therefore, all documents were evaluated by applying a
detailed survey that can grasp the most important strengths and weaknesses of
the planning processes. In the following chapters, firstly, the applied
methodology is introduced, then the main results grouped by counties and cities
are revealed; finally, conclusions and potential opportunities are highlighted.
2. Methodology
There is an increasing demand on both the science and policy sides to deliver
some performance evaluation related to climate planning on different spatial
levels. It is pivotal to be able to see the current status of climate oriented urban
planning, especially when the focus is on adaptation. Spatial adaptation actions,
interventions, and options can be examined through the systematic evaluation
and detailed analysis of Hungarian counties and county seats. Considering
county (NUTS-3) and county seat (LAU-1) level, there is a lack of climate
planning assessment in Hungary. However, in this country, it is traditionally a
well-functioning and effective territorial level. Thus, the engagement of the
examined areas towards the climate planning approach and notable adaptation
can play a pivotal role in further sustainable regional development perspectives.
Fig. 1 shows the territorial scope of the evaluation, namely the 19
Hungarian counties and county seats plus the capital. Budapest, as the capital of
Hungary, compared to the 19 counties and county seats, has special rights
according to law. Due to the significant contribution to GDP and the dominant
percentage of the Hungarian population, it was examined together with the
group of counties in this evaluation process.
Fig. 1. Examined area: The 19 Hungarian counties (including the capital) and county seats.
Urban areas are expected to become increasingly crucial actors both in
mitigation and adaptation issues, which can be an especially revise assumption
in Europe, where the 74%2 of the population lives in these areas. The
municipalities on different spatial levels are usually more engaged towards
climate-friendly and sustainable ways of developments in those cases and
places, where they have the possibility to receive financial and expert support
from central governments (Eckersley et al., 2018; Bellinson and Chu, 2019;
Kern, 2019). Regarding the international scientific literature, several research
results can be found mainly dealing with general aspects, EU (Castán Broto,
2017; Mendizabal et al., 2018; Reckien et al., 2018, 2019) or country-specific
(Berkhout et al., 2015; Heidrich et al., 2016; Pietrapertosa et al., 2018),
territorial scope aiming attention at climate change in urban planning processes.
According to the review of the above mentioned relevant research papers and
methodologies, the main steps of recent evaluation is based on the following:
1. Identification of the existing types of climate change-related strategic and
planning documents on the relevant spatial levels (counties and the capital,
county seats);
2. Examination of the availability of relevant climate change-related strategic
and planning documents;
3. Selection of the relevant climate change-related strategic and planning
4. Adaptation oriented questionnaire development for the in-depth analysis
considering the main research questions;
5. Online collecting form development and conduct the in-depth analysis;
6. Evaluation of the research results.
On county, capital and county seat level identified relevant climate
strategies and other planning documents types belong to climate strategies or
Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAPs). Related to county-
level climate strategies, common methodology and guideline development were
supported by the central government as well as the elaboration of the
documents. All of the identified document was available online. In cases where
both types of document are existing, the climate strategy was prioritized. The
main research question emphasized the recent knowledge and the state of
adaptation planning on different spatial levels in Hungary. The main examined
topics according to adaptation oriented questionnaire have the following
A) General information:
- County/county seat name
- Weblink of the document
- Year of document development
- Type of document
- Existence of document history
B) Content related information:
- Spatial characteristics
o General climate related outlook (global, regional, local)
o Area-specific impacts based on identified local characteristics
o Vulnerable social groups
- Adaptation aims related information
o Sectors related to the adaptation aims
o Impacts related to the adaptation aims
o Number of adaptation aims
o Types of adaptation oriented actions, interventions
- Monitoring phase
o Existence of monitoring phase
o Features of existing monitoring phase
- Document development and general layout
o Stakeholder involvement
o Proportion of adaptation compared to mitigation
An online collecting form was developed and used for the feasibility of the
in-depth analysis. The data collection was conducted from the beginning of
September to the end of October 2019.
3. Results
In the present chapter, results regarding the detailed analysis of counties and
county seats will be presented in that order. Budapest is involved in the group of
counties, due to its specific rights, size, and importance with regards to both
mitigation and adaptation issues. The structure of the visualization is almost the
same for both groups; however, it can be seen that there are some differences
between the presentation of the results since some questions are more relevant
and provide more specific outcomes in the case of cities rather than counties.
The first question was focusing on the date of approval concerning climate
change strategies of counties. Since the Hungarian government decided to support
the development of climate change strategies on NUTS-3 level through the
Environment and Energy Operational Programme in 2016, consequently majority
of strategies was developed and approved in 2018 (16 of 20), only Heves County,
Győr-Moson-Sopron County, Bács-Kiskun County, and Vas County released their
documents in the year of 2017. All of the analyzed documents on the county level
are stand-alone climate strategies in terms of their type; moreover, the vast majority
of them are the first attempt due to the lack of climate strategies on the NUTS-3
level in Hungary. 18 of 20 strategies have a general outlook on climate change with
regards to global or local impacts, risks, and other related issues. In the climate
strategy of Békés and Fejér counties, this thematic outlook is completely lacking.
Similar to the previously presented results, highlights of local-specific impacts
of climate change concerning different time-scales are a well-documented part of
the selected strategies, since 17 of them defined observed changes from the past, 19
of 20 have dedicated chapter regarding present impacts, and 19 of them paid
attention to future projections (see Fig. 2). By focusing on the existing differences
across strategies, it is worth mentioning that in the strategy of Békés County had
nothing to do with past and present impacts, Baranya County Climate Strategy is
not detailing future risks; moreover, the analysis of observed changes lacks in case
of both Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok and Komárom-Esztergom counties.
Fig. 2. Absolute number of mentions of local-specific impacts in climate strategies on county
Besides the collection of different impacts via a long time-scale, defined
climate-related risks and actions were also revealed by analyzing the selected
strategies. Based on the previously cited regional climate models, increasing
temperature and changing precipitation patterns are the two significant impacts
of climate change in the Carpathian Basin. Apart from them, it can be stated that
other impacts can also be distinguished, such as waterlogging, flood, drought,
extreme storms, etc., that affect counties and other spatial levels in a different
way. Fig. 3 represents the total number of mentions of different climate-related
impacts in climate strategies of county level. Increasing temperature, drought,
and storms were mentioned in every stand-alone document, while changing
precipitation patterns have been defined in the case of 16 strategies. Risks
regarding flood and waterlogging are less emphasized due to geographical
differences of counties.
After collecting and analyzing climate-related impacts in selected climate
strategies, detailed evaluation regarding distinguished actions has been
performed to reveal potential lacks and opportunities to improve the quality of
climate strategies by bridging the gap between defined impacts and related
actions. Table 1 shows this relationship as mentioned earlier between impacts
and defined actions in the case of every county and by using a three-step
approach. Green cells refer to the best scenario, where a given climate impact is
distinguished in the analyzed document; moreover, at least one dedicated action
(related to the impact) is also developed. The light yellow color means that
actions can be found in the given strategy without a previously defined impact.
Dark orange cells represent the worst case when a given impact is previously
distinguished and marked as an important challenge for the county; however,
there is no developed action related to that significant risk. Finally, N/D means
Observed changes Present impacts Future projections
No. of mentions
there is neither impact(s) nor action(s) in the analyzed strategy. It can be seen
that increasing temperature and drought are the two impacts, where all county
documents defined them and assigned related actions as well. In the case of
storms, some strategies distinguished as associated climate impacts, but related
actions have not been developed (Baranya, Csongrád, Győr-Moson-Sopron, and
Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok counties). Flood and waterlogging are the two most
heterogeneous impacts due to their strong local-specific and geographic-related
features. In the climate strategy of Hajdú-Bihar County, Nógrád County, and
Vas County, dark orange cells refer to the lack of actions besides the defined
challenges regarding flood, while waterlogging is a relevant adverse effect of
climate change in Hajdú-Bihar, Nógrád, Somogy, Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg, and
Zala counties, related actions have not been found in their documents.
Fig. 3. Total number of mentions of climate-related impacts.
Considering adaptation issues through document analysis, distinguishing
vulnerable social groups with regards to changing climate patterns and related
weather extremes is a crucial component of effective climate strategies. For that
purpose, Fig. 4. shows the total number of mentions of different vulnerable
groups appearing in the selected and analyzed strategies on the county level. It
can be stated that infants, elderly people, and people with cardiovascular disease
are well involved in the documents as the most vulnerable social groups to
heatwaves. People with disabilities have been mentioned in 8 of 20 documents;
however, it is a much better inclusion compared to outdoor workers and poor
people with only one mention. It cannot be found such a stand-alone document
that took into consideration all of these vulnerable social groups: the majority of
the strategies was focusing on the previously mentioned first three groups. Risks
regarding outdoor workers appear in the climate strategy of Budapest, and poor
8 101214161820
Increasing temperature
Changing precipitation patterns
Number of mentions
people were distinguished as a vulnerable societal dimension in the strategy of
Tolna County. It is worth mentioning and emphasizing that the climate strategy
of Vas County specified only one vulnerable social group (poor people) in the
Table 1. Pairs of climate-related impacts and dedicated actions
Storms Drought Flood Waterlogging
County N/D N/D
Baranya County N/D N/D
Békés County N/D N/D
Zemplén County
Budapest N/D
Csongrád County N/D
Fejér County N/D N/D
Sopron County
County N/D
Heves County
Szolnok County
Esztergom County N/D
Nógrád County
Pest County
Somogy County
Bereg County
Tolna County
Vas County N/D
Veszprém County N/D N/D
Zala County
Fig. 4. Total number of mentions of vulnerable social groups.
Well-structured aims focusing on both existing and projected adverse
effects of climate change are cornerstones of effective climate strategies. Based
on this assumption, the following two sections are introducing the primary
outcomes of our survey focusing on the aims regarding analyzed strategies.
Firstly, Fig. 5 represents the total number of mentions regarding whether a given
sector is defined and distinguished through the adaptation aims in a given
strategy or not. Based on the evaluation of the results, it can be stated that two
main groups of sectors are appearing: in the first, pool, water management,
agriculture, tourism, health, urban planning, and natural values are all well
emphasized with between 17 and 20 mentions, respectively. However, forest
fire, industry, transport, and energy supply are mentioned much less by the
county-level climate strategies. It is worth emphasizing that the natural and
social-based differences between counties entail different structures of aims and
related sectors, but this gap, as mentioned earlier, between the two groups shall
be emphasized.
19 19
No. of mentions
Fig. 5. Total number of mentions of sectors among the aims of climate strategies.
Developed and distinguished adaptation actions are crucial in the
implementation phase and efficiently contribute to reducing the overall
vulnerability of counties by covering as many critical issues as they can.
Naturally, it cannot be declared that more adaptation actions entail less
vulnerability in a linear relationship. However, complete with the previously
introduced results, slightly more transparent conclusions can be made regarding
the adaptation-oriented aim structure of the climate strategies of Hungarian
counties. Therefore, Fig. 6 aims at visualizing the total number of adaptation
actions grouped by counties, respectively. Fejér and Komárom-Esztergom
counties have the highest number of adaptation actions (with 25 and 19 actions),
while the Baranya County Climate Strategy defined only five interventions. The
average number of adaptation actions is approximately 11.
Besides the unquestionable importance of aims and their structure,
evaluation of adaptation oriented interventions contributes to analyzing the
county-level climate strategies more transparently. For that reason, our survey
has a dedicated question about the main characteristics of interventions based on
their types. The majority of climate strategies include technical solutions, policy
tools, and awareness-raising projects, whit much less attention to education,
financial tools, and research and development (R+D) actions. The presence of
financial tools among adaptation actions is the least, only 5 of 20 climate
strategies (Budapest, Nógrád County, Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County,
Veszprém County, and Zala County) have mentioned them as potential tools for
improving adaptive capacity within the administrative borders.
20 19
19 18
No. of mentions
Fig. 6. Total number of adaptation actions in the analyzed climate strategies.
Monitoring phases in development strategies ensure the effectiveness of
these documents by controlling and evaluating the processes which are needed
to enhance climate adaptivity. In the case of Hungarian county-level climate
change strategies, Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok and Vas counties’ documents had
nothing to do with the monitoring phase. On the opposite side, the vast majority
of analyzed strategies have a comprehensive set of indicators, time frame, and
budget allocation to enhance the effectiveness of their interventions. However, it
shall be emphasized that preference order and responsibility issues have not
been involved in the monitoring chapters at all. In a close context of the
monitoring phase, the developed strategy-analysis survey has taken into
consideration stakeholder inclusiveness during the preparation phase of the
strategies. Only the Békés County Climate Strategy has not mentioned the list of
involved stakeholders during the planning procedure, while the majority of
climate strategies listed numerous NGOs, universities, public authorities,
companies and other economic and social actors who were active contributors to
the development of the county-level climate change strategies.
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
Zala County
Veszprém County
Vas County
Tolna County
Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County
Somogy County
Pest County
Nógrád County
Komárom-Esztergom County
Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County
Heves County
Hajdú-Bihar County
Győr-Moson-Sopron County
Fejér County
Csongrád County
Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County
Békés County
Baranya County
Bács-Kiskun County
Number of adaptation actions
Finally, the last evaluated aspects regarding the strategies are the length of
mitigation and adaptation-oriented pages. It is worth repeatedly emphasizing
that the total length of adaptation-centered content is not closely related to its
effectiveness, but an overview can be made by using this information about the
strategies. Fig. 7 summarizes the relative share of mitigation and adaptation-
related contents in the face of the total length of the strategies in descending
order. It means that the relatively lengthiest adaptation part of climate strategies
can be found in the case of Vas County with 39%, while the shortest adaptation-
oriented sections can be read in the Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County Climate
Change Strategy. It shall be emphasized that the majority of strategies have paid
more attention to adaptation issues (except Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County and
Somogy County), which is related to a clear trend of shifting the main
intervention points from mitigation actions to adaptation ones in the
international policy-making processes. The role of industry, transport, and
energy supply concerning improvement of adaptive capacity is clear, however,
these sectors were barely specified in the county-level strategies.
Fig. 7. Relative share of adaptation- and mitigation-oriented contents in the strategies.
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County
Somogy County
Fejér County
Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County
Veszprém County
Győr-Moson-Sopron County
Baranya County
Bács-Kiskun County
Heves County
Hajdú-Bihar County
Nógrád County
Békés County
Pest County
Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County
Tolna County
Komárom-Esztergom County
Csongrád County
Zala County
Vas County
% of total pages
Mitigation Adaptation Other
There are 19 county seats on LAU-1 level in Hungary. Out of the 19 cities,
63% have accepted some type of climate-related strategic or planning document.
These documents were involved into the in-depth evaluation process considering
the same questionnaire as in case of the counties and the capital. Two main
types of documents can be found on this level, one of them is urban climate
strategy, the other one is Sustainable Energy and Climate Plan (SECAP). 62%
of the county seats have SECAPs and the other 38% goes for the urban climate
strategy. According to the year of the document developments it can be seen,
that the oldest and still existing one was accepted in 2007, that is the urban
climate strategy of Tatabánya. This county seat is a founding member city of the
Climate-friendly Municipality Association and was among the first three cities
in Hungary which worked out urban climate strategy. The latest climate
strategy, that belongs to the county seat of Miskolc, was accepted in 2017. The 8
SECAPs has been developed between 2017 and 2019. Only 23% of the
evaluated documents have some existing history in the form of a planning
document that is related to climate approach. A bit more than half of the
examined documents includes paragraphs or chapters that are dealing with some
general climate-related outlook on global, regional, or local level. It puts the
climate change approach into context and provides a good background for easier
understanding for the reader.
The absolute numbers of area-specific impacts are shown in the Fig. 8. All
of the three types so the observed changes, the present impacts and the future
projections are well represented in the examined documents. The most popular
were the projection for the future. These information can be descriptive enough
for decision makers or local residents as well.
Fig. 8. Absolute number of mentions of area-specific impacts based on identified local
characteristics (county seats).
Observed changes Present impacts Future projections
No. of mentions
There are mentioned a wide range of climate-related impacts in the
evaluated county seat documents, as can be seen in Fig. 9. The three most
significant impacts are the temperature increase, the changing of the
precipitation patterns and floods. Droughts, floods, forest fires belong to the
next group based on the number of mentions. On the county seat level, the
emphasis of local features may justify this diversity.
Fig. 9. Total number of mentions of climate-related impacts (county seats).
As was mentioned previously, according to the methodology, the next step is
to check and analyze the consistency of the evaluated documents considering
climate-related impacts and dedicated actions. Table 2 shows the results of this
evaluation in case of county seats with SECAPs. There is not any action without
impact. The significant proportion of the non-defined category is apparent. The
existence or the lack of adaptation aims is independent of the date of the document
development or assessment. Due to the requirements of the Covenant of Mayors for
SECAPs, it is necessary to deal with the strengths and weaknesses of a territory,
develop risk and vulnerability assessments that can allow convenient adaptation
strategy development that can be converted into SECAP’s actions.
The latest climate strategy was accepted in 2017 by the representative body
of the municipality of Miskolc. However, not that document shows the best
interrelations concerning climate-related impacts and adaptation actions. The
Increasing temperature
Changing precipitation patterns
Flash flood
Extreme weather events
Vegetation fire
Forest fire
Spread of infectious diseases
Loss of biodiversity
Decrease in karst water
Number of mentions
best results, according to the consistency evaluation, can be seen related to the
county seat of Eger that is shown in Table 3. This document was developed in
2012. The lack of knowledge transfer can be seen related to other cities.
Table 2. Climate-related impacts and dedicated actions in county seat SECAPs
Table 3. Climate-related impacts and dedicated actions in county seat climate strategies
N/D non-defined
impact and action(s)
action(s) without impact
impact without action(s)
N/D non-defined
impact and action(s)
action(s) without impact
impact without action(s)
Altogether 3 examined document deals with the vulnerable social groups
despite the importance of this aspect in adaptation planning and concerning
adaptation pathways. These documents mention as vulnerable social groups, the
infants and younger children, the elderly population, and people with chronic
cardiovascular disease.
Almost half of the evaluated documents do not define any sector related to
adaptation aims (see Fig. 10). The most emphasized sector among the adaptation
aims is water management due to its unpredictability and importance according
to living standards, quality of life, and sustainability. The same importance was
given to the following four as agriculture, health, energy industry, and urban
planning. These are followed by transport, tourism, nature conservation, and
finally, waste and disaster management can be found in the chart.
Fig. 10. Total number of mentions of sectors among the aims of examined county seat level
Based on the evaluation of the 13 climate-related strategic documents on
the county seat level, it can be seen that in the case of 69% of the examined
documents, the overall lack of adaptation aims can be stated. Thus, only 31% of
the documents discuss some details according to the adaptation aims.
No. of mentions
Fig. 11 gives an overview of the adaptation actions and shows the high
percentage of the non-defined category. The core actions belong to the technical
solution or awareness-raising, followed by education and policy-related actions.
Only 31% of the evaluated documents gives at least a general overview,
according to monitoring. In two cases, indicators and timeframe were also
mentioned as necessary parts of the monitoring phase. None of the evaluated
document mentions the importance and meaning of partnership. Only four cases
deal with an open discussion about the planned document with different local
actors and stakeholders.
Fig. 11. Total number of mentions of adaptation actions among the aims of examined county
seat level documents.
According to Fig. 12 on the county seat level, the representation of the
relative share of adaptation and mitigation-oriented content can be seen. Clearly,
the least represented approach is an adaptation to climate change despite the
importance of this kind of activities, interventions, and tools in order to support
the transition towards sustainable regional development. The most adaptation-
focused documents were formulated in Szeged and Dunaújváros, that is
followed in the row by Tatabánya, Szekszárd, Eger, Salgótarján. There is a
complete lack of adaptation content that can be found in the case of Debrecen.
No. of mentions
Fig. 12. Relative share of adaptation- and mitigation-oriented content in the examined
4. Conclusion
The Hungarian counties made an unquestionably enormous effort by developing
their climate change strategies during the past years. Content analysis of
documents revealed their complexity and heterogeneity; however, a strict
methodological guideline developed by the Alliance of Climate-friendly
Settlements were available. The survey applied for identifying key strengths and
weaknesses of climate change strategies on the county level was a crucial part of
this process and entailed to define several further recommendations. Firstly, it
shall be emphasized that county-level climate change strategies cover all of the
relevant climate-related impacts regarding both the present and future.
Nevertheless, after a detailed analysis of actions, it can be stated that best
practices regarding the planning phase in terms of impacts-actions pairs are
severely limited, since numerous climate strategies can be found in which
relevant impacts were mentioned without any related actions or vice versa.
Vulnerable social groups are also defined and introduced by the analyzed
documents. However, it is worth mentioning that the inclusiveness of vulnerable
people is weak: outdoor workers, people with disabilities, and poor people have
not been taken into consideration in an emphasized way regardless of their
vulnerability to changing climatic patterns.
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
% of total pages
Name of the county seats
Mitigation Adaptation Other
A further weakness of strategy-making processes can be characterized by
paying attention to the outcomes of content analysis regarding the number of
mentions of different sectors through the adaptation-oriented goals. From the
planning perspective, diversification of tools regarding the implementation of
actions is crucial to enhance the effectiveness of a given strategy. The majority
of climate strategies include technical solutions, policy tools, and awareness-
raising projects, with much less attention to education, financial tools, and R+D
actions. Besides the lack of given types of actions, some deficiencies concerning
the monitoring phase have also been characterized: a complete lack of contents
regarding priorities between aims and goals and of responsibilities during the
implementation phase. Last but not least, the share of adaptation-related content
varies significantly from 39% (Vas County) to 10% (Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok
County) that represents a significant heterogeneity in terms of the relative
importance of adaptation issues in a given strategy. It cannot be stated clearly
that lengthy adaptation contents are related to an improved quality of strategies;
however, it shall be declared that paying more attention to climate adaptation
issues is in parallel with EU-level activities nowadays and the near future.
Considering climate planning documents on the county seat (LAU-1) level,
more diverse and heterogeneous results can be seen compared to the county
level. This heterogeneity of adaptation issues can be found both in the evaluated
climate change-related strategies and SECAPs in the case of the Hungarian
county seats. Based on our in-depth evaluation of this level, according to
adaptation in several cases, the lack of the appropriate planning document is the
most striking. This diversity visible, for example, in the case of climate-related
impacts. On county seat level, the planned adaptation aims, related sectors, and
actions are significantly underrepresented in the evaluated documents. The
monitoring phase can also be seen as a crucial point in further developments for
an adaptive future on different spatial levels.
Acknowledgements: The research reported in this paper was supported by the Higher Education
Excellence Program of the Ministry of Human Capacities in the frame of the Water sciences &
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Nowadays the majority of urban studies is focusing on city-level or micro-scale analysis regarding sustainability. However, district-focused evaluations are almost entirely missing. Besides, cities from both the most rapidly developing countries and the most-developed regions are overwhelmingly studied, while Central European cities are underrepresented in the current literature. Based on the previously mentioned frames, this study aims to fill the scientific gap by assessing the urban sustainability of Budapest, Hungary, on district level by using indicator method. Selected and partly constructed variables reflect the significant features of Budapest regarding environmental, social, and economic sustainability issues, thus altogether 30 indicators contributed to revealing major differences between districts in terms of their relative sustainability performance. The indicators were weighed by applying Guilford's weighting methodology; thus, dimension-level weights were not applied in order to understand better the hidden cause-effects between dimensions and overall sustainability performances. After the evaluation of the results the followings can be stated: firstly, a relevant geographical slope can be drawn regarding the overall sustainability of the districts grouped into Buda- and Pest-side units; secondly, social and economic dimensions determine the overall sustainability score in a more robust way compared to the relative role of environmental sustainability issues.
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Cities are gaining prominence committing to respond to the threat of climate change, e.g., by developing local climate plans or strategies. However, little is known regarding the approaches and processes of plan development and implementation, or the success and effectiveness of proposed measures. Mainstreaming is regarded as one approach associated with (implementation) success, but the extent of integration of local climate policies and plans in ongoing sectoral and/or development planning is unclear. This paper analyses 885 cities across the 28 European countries to create a first reference baseline on the degree of climate mainstreaming in local climate plans. This will help to compare the benefits of mainstreaming versus dedicated climate plans, looking at policy effectiveness and ultimately delivery of much needed climate change efforts at the city level. All core cities of the European Urban Audit sample were analyzed, and their local climate plans classified as dedicated or mainstreamed in other local policy initiatives. It was found that the degree of mainstreaming is low for mitigation (9% of reviewed cities; 12% of the identified plans) and somewhat higher for adaptation (10% of cities; 29% of plans). In particular horizontal mainstreaming is a major effort for local authorities; an effort that does not necessarily pay off in terms of success of action implementation. This study concludes that climate change issues in local municipalities are best tackled by either, developing a dedicated local climate plan in parallel to a mainstreamed plan or by subsequently developing first the dedicated and later a mainstreaming plan (joint or subsequent “dual track approach”). Cities that currently provide dedicated local climate plans (66% of cities for mitigation; 26% of cities for adaptation) may follow-up with a mainstreaming approach. This promises effective implementation of tangible climate actions as well as subsequent diffusion of climate issues into other local sector policies. The development of only broad sustainability or resilience strategies is seen as critical
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Political decision-makers need to consider the various challenges and opportunities that climate change can bring, and they must take decisions under high uncertainty to achieve resilient cities. Here, we synthesise the push and pull approaches reported in the literature and employed in practice to achieve sustainable and resilient cities. First, we present a literature review which identified the major research fields on transition theories, frameworks and methods that underpin this concept. We analyse the conditions for change, identify enablers or triggers for change at governance level for transitioning a city towards sustainability and resilience. We discuss the theories, frameworks and methods which can be used to address the urban climate change challenge at city level. Second, we present an empirical approach based on stakeholder participation that we conducted to detect the conditions for change. We report on the design and implementation of stakeholder exercises that helped us detecting the conditions for changes. Third, we combine the information obtained from these stakeholder exercises with that extracted from the literature in order to provide a fuller picture on how stimulate the transition and transformation to achieve sustainable and resilient cities. Based on our literature review and empirical approach, we formulate an integrated conceptual model for transition that enables the design of adaptation (and mitigation) strategies that consider the triggers of change. Uniquely we identified 8 triggers of change, including authority and political leadership, learning from disasters, co-responsibility, increased public-private interface, social participation and the living lab approach to innovation. The proposed model can be applied to the whole city or to a certain sector of the city (e.g. energy). We demonstrate that triggers of change help to overcome planning and implementation barriers and move the socio-ecological and socio-technical systems of any city towards those of a resilient city.
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Sustainable development, climate adaptation and urban resilience are becoming increasingly important issues for municipal governments. However, councils cannot address these issues alone, and are often hindered by a lack of clarity around the potential costs and benefits of taking action. This article sets out how public bodies can use alternative, collaborative approaches to understand climate risks better and thereby support the business case for adaptation. It highlights how Newcastle City Council worked with other local stakeholders to develop a shared understanding of how a major storm could affect services and infrastructures across North East England. This helped the authority to identify the potential costs of an extreme weather event, and informed its decision to invest in infrastructure that will help to protect future generations from similar incidents.
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The Paris Agreement aims to limit global mean temperature rise this century to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. This target has wide-ranging implications for Europe and its cities, which are the source of substantial greenhouse gas emissions. This paper reports the state of local planning for climate change by collecting and analysing information about local climate mitigation and adaptation plans across 885 urban areas of the EU-28. A typology and framework for analysis was developed that classifies local climate plans in terms of their alignment with spatial (local, national and international) and other climate related policies. Out of eight types of local climate plans identified in total we document three types of stand-alone local climate plans classified as type A1 (autonomously produced plans), A2 (plans produced to comply with national regulations) or A3 (plans developed for international climate networks). There is wide variation among countries in the prevalence of local climate plans, with generally more plans developed by central and northern European cities. Approximately 66% of EU cities have a type A1, A2, or A3 mitigation plan, 26% an adaptation plan, and 17% a joint adaptation and mitigation plan, while about 33% lack any form of stand-alone local climate plan (i.e. what we classify as A1, A2, A3 plans). Mitigation plans are more numerous than adaptation plans, but planning for mitigation does not always precede planning for adaptation. Our analysis reveals that city size, national legislation, and international networks can influence the development of local climate plans. We found that size does matter as about 80% of the cities with above 500,000 inhabitants have a comprehensive and stand-alone mitigation and/or an adaptation plan (A1). Cities in four countries with national climate legislation (A2), i.e. Denmark, France, Slovakia and the United Kingdom, are nearly twice as likely to produce local mitigation plans, and five times more likely to produce local adaptation plans, compared to cities in countries without such legislation. A1 and A2 mitigation plans are particularly numerous in Denmark, Poland, Germany, and Finland; while A1 and A2 adaptation plans are prevalent in Denmark, Finland, UK and France. The integration of adaptation and mitigation is country-specific and can mainly be observed in two countries where local climate plans are compulsory, i.e. France and the UK. Finally, local climate plans produced for international climate networks (A3) are mostly found in the many countries where autonomous (type A1) plans are less common. This is the most comprehensive analysis of local climate planning to date. The findings are of international importance as they will inform and support decision-making towards climate planning and policy development at national, EU and global level being based on the most comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge of local climate planning available to date.
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Well-intended climate actions are confounding each other. Cities must take a strategic and integrated approach to lock into a climate-resilient and low-emission future.
The aim of this article is to prove the connection between CO2 emission and climate change, and to estimate the CO2 emission of the transport sector in Hungary. We have to clarify the emission of the transport sector in order to get information on externalities, which is a further step toward a sustainable society. The sustainable development is a development, where the pace of technical development, the satiation of increasing supply and the raw materials and resources of Earth are poised so that the rate of living and opportunities of the next generations need not be worse. One of the most emphasized goals of the transport policy of the European Union is sustainable mobility. For this reason transportation systems must be developed and standardized, the effectiveness of transportation services must be increased, while the environmental pollution must be decreased or prevented. Decoupling motorization from environmental pollution is the task for engineers. Decoupling the increase of economical activity from mobility is the task for economists.
The success of local climate governance in Europe depends not only on leading cities but also on the dynamics between leaders, followers, and laggards. Upscaling local experiments helps to close the gap between these actors. This process is driven by the increasing embeddedness of cities and their networks in EU multilevel governance. Embedded upscaling combines horizontal upscaling between leading cities with vertical upscaling between leaders and followers that is mediated by higher levels of government, and hierarchical upscaling that even reaches the laggards. Various types of upscaling, their combinations, and their impacts are analyzed. Networks have become denser and networking has intensified. City networks and their member cities have become embedded in national and EU governance, lost authority and depend more and more on regional, national, and European authorities.
The proliferation of transnational municipal networks (TMNs) has led to different innovative models of urban climate change governance. To date, there have been few reflexive inquiries into how urban governance actors and processes are learning to innovate as a result of participating in TMNs. In response, this paper draws on theories of institutional learning and urban governance to offer a conceptual distinction between innovations in governance and the governance of innovations in the context of climate resilience and adaptation. We apply these concepts to evaluate the case studies of Rotterdam and Berkeley, where we highlight the actors, networks, and resources required to motivate and sustain actions against concurrent sectoral interests. Experiences from the two cities show that learning pathways are constructed and reified through processes of communication and negotiation, which can result in the grounding of TMN resources. A focus on unpacking the variations in learning and implementation within cities across diverse political economic contexts can offer insights into the opportunities for enabling more meaningful and sustained forms of innovation.
Shading is shown to be one of the most effective strategies to mitigate urban heat stress, especially on a small scale. This paper presents an empirical study investigating the effectiveness of different means of shading—by sun sails and trees—to improve the local thermal environment during the summer. Three different urban settings were investigated through detailed human-biometeorological measurements in the Hungarian city of Pécs. Our study employed the accurate six-directional radiation measurement technique, and calculated Physiological Equivalent Temperature (PET) from the obtained data to assess outdoor thermal conditions. Our results indicate that in open urban squares trees can mitigate heat stress more effectively than low-hanging sun sails, installed right above the head of pedestrians. In the period of 9:00–16:00, the average PET reduction by trees and low sun sails was 9.0 °C and 5.8 °C, respectively. Sun sails, installed at higher elevation to shade an entire street canyon, and mature trees with dense canopy had more pronounced heat stress reduction ability, and were able to reduce the local PET by over 10 °C. Our study demonstrates the importance of detailed small-scale field measurements, the outcomes of which can be incorporated into climate-responsive urban design strategies with ease.
Impacts of socio-economic, political and climatic change on agricultural land systems are inherently uncertain. The role of regional and local-level actors is critical in developing effective policy responses that accommodate such uncertainty in a flexible and informed way across governance levels. This study identified potential regional challenges in arable land use systems, which may arise from climate and socio-economic change for two counties in western Hungary: Veszprém and Tolna. An empirically-grounded, agent-based model was developed from an extensive farmer household survey about local land use practices. The model was used to project future patterns of arable land use under four localised, stakeholder-driven scenarios of plausible future socio-economic and climate change. The results show strong differences in farmers’ behaviour and current agricultural land use patterns between the two regions, highlighting the need to implement focused policy at the regional level. For instance, policy that encourages local food security may need to support improvements in the capacity of farmers to adapt to physical constraints in Veszprém and farmer access to social capital and environmental awareness in Tolna. It is further suggested that the two regions will experience different challenges to adaptation under possible future conditions (up to 2100). For example, Veszprém was projected to have increased fallow land under a scenario with high inequality, ineffective institutions and higher-end climate change, implying risks of land abandonment. By contrast, Tolna was projected to have a considerable decline in major cereals under a scenario assuming a de-globalising future with moderate climate change, inferring challenges to local food self-sufficiency. The study provides insight into how socio-economic and physical factors influence the selection of crop rotation plans by farmers in western Hungary and how farmer behaviour may affect future risks to agricultural land systems under environmental change.