Adapting to climate change has reached the political agenda in most European countries, according to the most comprehensive analysis of adaptation in Europe published to date. Extreme weather events leading to floods, droughts, heat waves, rising sea levels and other widespread environmental changes are the most common reasons to address adaptation.
The European Environmental Agency (EEA) has published a new report – National adaptation policy processes in European countries – 2014 – that analyses responses of a survey from 30 European countries. This report presents a unique collection of information and the largest overview of national adaptation policy processes in Europe, to date.
In long term, climate change is expected to affect Europe with increased floods, droughts, heat waves etc. The fact that there is now a political focus on the issue of adaptation to climate change presents a positive feedback for the ENHANCE project, that also aims to increase awareness of EU countries of climate change connected risks and provide support to new strategies to prevent such risks.
According to the report, more than three quarters of countries participating to the survey pointed out that climate change adaptation is an issue on the political agenda. While most of the countries mentioned that extreme weather events have triggered adaptation responses, half of them reported a high or very high willingness to develop policies and to adapt at the national level, despite a number of barriers such as lack of time, money or technologies.
As stated in the report, “European countries are aware of the need for adaptation to climate change: to date, 21 European countries have adopted a national adaptation strategy (NAS) and 12 have developed a national adaptation plan (NAP). More than half of European countries have made progress in identifying and assessing adaptation options, and 13 report that they are in the implementation or the monitoring and evaluation stages of the adaptation policy process.”
ENHANCE to contribute to climate change adaptation challenges
Governments have recognised the links between disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Both have similar goals and are mutually beneficial, and aim to reduce the vulnerability of communities and achieve sustainable development.
The EEA report has raised some challenges to be overcome in the future to improve national adaptation policies in Europe.
The ENHANCE project addresses some of these challenges:
First of all, through its 10 case studies the ENHANCE project opens up opportunity for a number of actors from different sectors and regions to partner up and improve resilience to natural hazards. Mutual learning is one of the outcomes of such cooperation.
Secondly, the project works on developing new multi-sector partnerships (MSPs) between public and different private sectors. With its guidelines on enhancing MSP interaction ENHANCE is a starting point for the development of partnerships in other related areas such as climate adaptation.
Finally, more information is needed on topics such as risks, uncertainties, and vulnerability, without mentioning data for monitoring and evaluation to support adaptation as well as risk management. Through it’s activities ENHANCE gathers and provides information and risk scenario valuable for both adaptation and risk management policies.
Expanding the links between climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction contribute to decrease future climate-related losses.
Note to readers:
The ENHANCE project is designed around a work package of 10 selected case studies on risk reduction of catastrophic events taking place in Europe such as floods, droughts, forest fires and others.
The article was published by the European Environmental Agency. The full version and the report are available online.
Top photo copyright: EEA; Ben Salter.