This report provides policymakers across Europe, at different levels of governance and stages of policy formulation, with information that can be used to support adaptation planning and implementation. Specific parts of the report are therefore targeted at different audiences.
This report draws on the experience of existing adaptation strategies and actions, promotes better informed decision-making in key vulnerable sectors and improved resilience across the EU. It supports the implementation of the EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change.
Adaptation consists of actions responding to current and future climate change impacts and vulnerabilities (as well as to the climate variability that occurs in the absence of climate change) within the context of ongoing and expected societal change. It means not only protecting against negative impacts, but building resilience and also taking advantage of any benefits from these changes. The earlier we plan adaptation responses, the better equipped we will be to cope with challenges.
Adaptation and mitigation (i.e. the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions) are complementary actions, and both are EU priority areas for tackling climate change. Adaptation has the potential to support overarching policy objectives, such as 'Europe 2020 — Europe's growth strategy', and the transition to a sustainable, resource-efficient, green, and low-carbon economy.
The key findings from this report are grouped below in the form of key facts and three challenges that must be addressed when approaching adaptation policymaking in Europe. Other key findings are given at the start of each chapter.
- Examples of implemented actions show that adaptation of both natural and human systems is already taking place across Europe.
- There are 16 EEA member countries to date that have developed national adaptation strategies (nine more than in 2008) and some of these countries already have action plans in place. National adaptation strategies address primarily the water, agriculture and forestry, biodiversity, and human health sectors. Twelve additional EEA member countries are currently preparing a national adaptation strategy, and 15 in total have already established web portals. Some transnational regions (such as the Danube, the Baltic, the Alps and the Pyrenees) and cities have developed adaptation strategies or are currently developing them.
- At EU level, instruments for implementing adaptation policy include key mechanisms such as cohesion funds, agriculture funds, and infrastructure funds, as well as funds from the LIFE+ programme. These are critical to integrate adaptation into EU policy — a process known as 'mainstreaming' of adaptation.
- The European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT, http://climate-adapt. eea.europa.eu) is an important source of information on adaptation in Europe. It supports stakeholders at all levels of governance by sharing a broad set of information on climate change risks, EU sector policies, adaptation practices, national initiatives, and decision‑support tools. Climate‑ADAPT includes key results of EU research, INTERREG and ESPON projects that have strengthened the EU's knowledge base on adaptation.
- The assessment of the costs and benefits of adaptation actions — at European, member country, and local levels — is an emerging field of work. Limited information on costs and benefits is available at present, and this information has to be considered with care as there is still much work to be done on improving assessment methods.