Adaptation Pyramid

Tool description

The Adaptation Pyramid aims to help cities in setting ambitions on a balanced set of adaptation measures. It is a workshop approach where city representatives discuss how to set a balanced ambition for the adaptation strategy for the city.

The pyramid consists of three layers. From bottom to top they are: Transformative adaptation aiming to utilise the natural system and to address the root cause of climate related risks. The middle layer is about incremental adaptation often relying on technical measures. The remaining risk will be addressed through reactive adaptation which is related to emergency preparedness and acting in the event of extremes. A climate robust strategy will have a strong basis, relying less on incremental technological fixes.


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Complexity explanation

It can be implemented by cities on their own with some knowledge of climate risks.

Benefits of using the tool

The main benefit of the tool is that it helps to visualise how the city is moving towards a robust climate-proof system.

City Hub experiences

The first version of the Adaptation Pyramid concept was developed together with the water authorities of Delfland and Vallei & Veluwe in The Netherlands.

Three cities have piloted the approach and it is being further implemented across three regions in the Netherlands.


Triple-A phases

The tool is especially useful for the Ambition phase as it allows to identify objectives and goals for cities/regions based on risk priorization.


Not available yet


Climate Adaptation Services (CAS)

Hasse Goosen,

Eva Boon,


More information at

Click here to download infographics summarizing the methodology and steps of this tool.

Click here to learn more about the use of this tool.


The tool is complementary with the Climate Resilient Development Pathways (CRDPs) as it allows to set ambitions and goals for the different alternative pathways.

The climate story of Gdynia​

Short summary: A story about Jan and Maria during extreme precipitation.

Theme: Flooding

End user: Citizens

Link to the story: under construction