Overview of climate change adaptation platforms in Europe

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Courtesy of European Environment Agency (EEA)

The landscape for web-based adaptation platforms in Europe

As adaptation policy progresses in Europe, it is increasingly important that people have access to relevant and high-quality information. This information can be used to support the development and implementation of national and transnational adaptation strategies and plans as well as the implementation of the EU Adaptation Strategy (2013) laid out in the communication An EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change. A broad range of users consider web-based climate change adaptation platforms an effective means of collecting, assimilating and communicating relevant evidence, experience and knowledge to interested stakeholders including policymakers, practitioners and the general public.

The number of existing or planned national and transnational adaptation platforms in Europe is increasing. There are national adaptation platforms in place in 14 European Environment Agency (EEA) member countries (Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom). At transnational level, web-based platforms are in place for the Alpine region and the Pyrenees. At European level, the European Climate Change Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT) is managed and maintained by the EEA in collaboration with the European Commission. The 'transnational regions' pages of Climate-ADAPT host a section on the Baltic Sea Region.

Of the 14 national adaptation platforms in place in EEA member countries, 7 are directly linked to the implementation of a national adaptation strategy (NAS) or action plan (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Spain and Switzerland). It should be noted that only a few platforms (Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) have more than three years of operating experience.

What does this report contain?

This report provides an overview on the state of play of most adaptation platforms in Europe. It offers information on the scope, history, targeted users and funding models of the identified national, transnational and EU-level adaptation platforms. It also analyses existing and potential links of these platforms to climate services and disaster risk reduction (DRR) platforms.

Furthermore, it identifies and explores challenges, reflections and lessons learned that are significant for platform developers and operators. These have been grouped into seven issues: (1) funding and sustaining a platform; (2) understanding, communicating and engaging with users; (3) identifying relevant knowledge and information; (4) presenting relevant knowledge and information; (5) design, technical and structural elements of a platform; (6) linking across sectors, scales and platforms, and (7) monitoring, evaluating and improving a platform.

The report shows that the adaptation platform landscape in Europe is dynamic, and that the nature of the platforms varies. Depending on the remits, target audience(s) and budget, there are differences in the scope, aims and means of delivery of platforms. The type of information that appears most often on adaptation platforms includes policy action at transnational, national and subnational levels, scientific research output, guidance, decision-support tools and experiences from practice and implemented adaptation measures. Yet the content and breadth of information and other services that are made available on each platform may differ based on the aims and scope. Also, political and socio-economic context and adaptation experiences determine the challenges and opportunities addressed by each platform.

Information was collected through three expert meetings on adaptation platforms in Europe: in June 2013 in Copenhagen, in November 2013 in Vienna and in June 2014 in Copenhagen again. These meetings engaged experts in the management of a wide range of national and other web-based adaptation platforms. In addition, information was collected through a series of targeted interviews with platform managers. The information presented in the report was confirmed by member countries through a consultation process. It should be noted that most of the platforms presented here are owned or supported by national authorities responsible for adaptation policy at national level, or by transnational organisations/bodies supporting adaptation across a particular region. While this set of platforms is representative of the platforms available, it is not comprehensive.

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