Most risks related to climate change, like flooding and heat stress, are concentrated in urban areas. As private gardens cover a large part of urban areas, the cooperation of residents is vital in creating a truly climate adaptive city. However, citizens are rarely involved in climate adaptation. Effective communication is necessary to raise awareness for climate change and adaptation options and increase citizens’ willingness to take action. Communicating actions for climate adaptation on a local scale and in a personally relevant environment is recommended, but not yet further specified in the existing knowledge base.
This thesis aims to gain more insight into the effectiveness of digital communication at a local scale to improve residents’ awareness and willingness to act towards climate adaptation. To this aim, two digital tools were designed and tested amongst Dutch residents. The two tools incorporated existing knowledge on communicating climate change and adaptation options and differed only in the type of ‘local’ they addressed: a personalised or standard private garden environment. Personalised environments were created based on a typology of houses and gardens found in a neighbourhood of Arnhem. Participants, both from this neighbourhood and elsewhere, were randomly assigned to one of the tools and asked to fill out a questionnaire before and after they used it.
The results showed that both interactive tools representing adaptation measures in a private garden environment increased participants’ willingness to take action for climate adaptation. However, although qualitative data revealed participants’ appreciation for a personalized digital environment, both tools showed to be equally effective to stimulate residents’ willingness to act. Thus, digital interactive tools offering practical information on solutions show they can be effective in motivating citizens for climate adaptation, using either a standard or personalised garden environment. Further research could focus on long-term effects and actual action-taking.