Original Article

Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 761-780

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Combining qualitative and quantitative understanding for exploring cross-sectoral climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability in Europe

  • Paula A. HarrisonAffiliated withEnvironmental Change Institute, University of Oxford Email author 
  • , Ian P. HolmanAffiliated withCranfield Water Science Institute, Cranfield University
  • , George CojocaruAffiliated withTIAMASG Foundation
  • , Kasper KokAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University
  • , Areti KontogianniAffiliated withLaboratory of Applied Environmental Economics, University of the Aegean
  • , Marc J. MetzgerAffiliated withSchool of GeoSciences, The University of EdinburghClimateXChange
  • , Marc GrambergerAffiliated withProspex bvba


Climate change will affect all sectors of society and the environment at all scales, ranging from the continental to the national and local. Decision-makers and other interested citizens need to be able to access reliable science-based information to help them respond to the risks of climate change impacts and assess opportunities for adaptation. Participatory integrated assessment (IA) tools combine knowledge from diverse scientific disciplines, take account of the value and importance of stakeholder ‘lay insight’ and facilitate a two-way iterative process of exploration of ‘what if’s’ to enable decision-makers to test ideas and improve their understanding of the complex issues surrounding adaptation to climate change. This paper describes the conceptual design of a participatory IA tool, the CLIMSAVE IA Platform, based on a professionally facilitated stakeholder engagement process. The CLIMSAVE (climate change integrated methodology for cross-sectoral adaptation and vulnerability in Europe) Platform is a user-friendly, interactive web-based tool that allows stakeholders to assess climate change impacts and vulnerabilities for a range of sectors, including agriculture, forests, biodiversity, coasts, water resources and urban development. The linking of models for the different sectors enables stakeholders to see how their interactions could affect European landscape change. The relationship between choice, uncertainty and constraints is a key cross-cutting theme in the conduct of past participatory IA. Integrating scenario development processes with an interactive modelling platform is shown to allow the exploration of future uncertainty as a structural feature of such complex problems, encouraging stakeholders to explore adaptation choices within real-world constraints of future resource availability and environmental and institutional capacities, rather than seeking the ‘right’ answers.


Climate change impacts Adaptation Vulnerability Integrated Scenarios Cross-sectoral