Tracking adaptation

The Western Alliance for Greenhouse Action (WAGA) has launched an innovative web tool to inform local governments and communities about climate change impacts and responses in the west of Melbourne.

WAGA is a partnership of the Cities and Councils of Brimbank, Greater Geelong, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Melton, Moonee Valley and Wyndham and the Shire of Moorabool.

The Alliance has ambitious objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help the region respond to climate change.

WAGA’s web tool is designed to answer the question, just ‘how well are  we adapting?’

The tool sets performance indicators for climate responses to guide program design, budgets and resourcing.  

For example, one indicator is ‘Vulnerability of critical home and community care services during extreme weather events’.

Another indicator to measure adaptation of open space and water services is ‘Variation of the gap in water supply compared to demand over time’.  

Council departments will be able to see trends and benchmark their responses to indicators against other councils.

The tool also has a public interface in which local residents can click on a map that shows them how climate change affects their suburbs.

It includes information on risks such as heatwaves, flooding and fire and the tool links residents to practical advice about how they can reduce these risks and case studies about how their councils are addressing the issues.

A major advantage of the tool for the community is that it transforms climate change from an abstract concept into something that is occurring here and now with real local impacts.

It gives residents the positive message that they can help themselves and shows them that their councils are partners in addressing the climate problem.

For councils, it’s an important way to share knowledge and learn ‘how to do’ climate adaptation.

It shows council officers – not just those in Sustainability departments – how climate change affects their work day-to-day.

It gives decision-makers precise data to evaluate their programs and avoid maladaptation.

This iteration of the tool is just the beginning. It can incorporate many datasets and further indicators and can now be applied directly to other local governments.

While it’s targeted to councils, it can also be adjusted for other organisations, such as state departments.  

It’s been recognised already as a world-first and has been presented at three international workshops so far – two in Japan with the Global Carbon Project and one in Thailand at the Asian Institute of Technology.

WAGA welcomes feedback from other local governments. The tool can be found at adapt.waga.com.au.