Melbourne - Melbourne’s Integrated Climate Adaptation Model


Until 2014, the city had undertaken adaptation activities in isolation - upgrading drainage and delivering new green space. Projects were undertaken opportunistically rather than strategically and focused only on single risks. ICAM provides a better understanding of the city and the implications of future climate scenarios, as it can run multiple potential interventions and test the outcomes and consequences of implementing them in a range of climate scenarios. 

This tool is assisting Melbourne’s move toward a holistic adaptation approach for the city; to develop a set of smart solutions that are more cost-effective and cohesive.



The development of ICAM relied on innovation at every phase, led through a multidisciplinary approach of 20 professionals - including leading climate scientists, hydrologists, IT and adaptation specialists, spatial scientists and engineers.

ICAM has been developed on a digital platform that combines GIS, hydrological modeling, climate modeling and flash-based visualization. ICAM embodies a smart way of thinking, and can review the four climate risks for Melbourne simultaneously. This holistic approach allows the city to develop adaptation interventions that can deliver multiple benefits.

ICAM overcame gaps in the existing knowledge of what happens during a large storm event. The city utilised new methods for flood modeling and a model to calculate green infrastructure intervention effectiveness.

Climate change targets include:

  • Increasing investment in early adaptation. Traditional adaptation approaches treat climate change as likely to occur in a linear fashion, worsening over time; therefore the business case for adaptation gets deferred to the future. ICAM allows for testing of new approaches.
  • Avoid underestimating impacts. When validating ICAM we learnt that the city had already experienced two ‘1 in 500-year’ rainfall events in 40 years, yet we had not fully understood these impacts.
  • Avoid maladaptation whereby we undertake ineffective or carbon-intensive adaptations. For example, ICAM compares the effectiveness of grey infrastructure versus green infrastructure and is enabling us to steer away from traditional interventions such as digging up streets for bigger drains to manage flooding.

Projected Outcomes

The City of Melbourne has shared the development of ICAM through C40’s Cool Cities and Connecting Delta Cities networks.

ICAM is currently available for use for assessing the entire municipality. However, this use is limited to city officials and the model is not yet public. The City plans to develop the model further for public use once the new adaptation strategy has been developed and endorsed.