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What is the EU doing?

In April 2013 the European Commission adopted an EU strategy on adaptation to climate change which has been welcomed by the EU Member States. The strategy aims to make Europe more climate-resilient. By taking a coherent approach and providing for improved coordination, it will enhance the preparedness and capacity of all governance levels to respond to the impacts of climate change.

Sheep, sea and wind turbines in the Netherlands © iStockphoto

The EU Adaptation Strategy focuses on three key objectives:

  • Promoting action by Member States: The Commission will encourage all Member States to adopt comprehensive adaptation strategies (currently 18 have strategies) and will provide funding to help them build up their adaptation capacities and take action. It will also support adaptation in cities through the Mayors Adapt initiative, a voluntary commitment within the framework of the Covenant of Mayors.
  • 'Climate-proofing' action at EU level by further promoting adaptation in key vulnerable sectors such as agriculture, fisheries and cohesion policy, ensuring that Europe's infrastructure is made more resilient, and promoting the use of insurance against natural and man-made disasters.
  • Better informed decision-making by addressing gaps in knowledge about adaptation and further developing the European climate adaptation platform (Climate-ADAPT) as the 'one-stop shop' for adaptation information in Europe.

Adaptation actions

EU adaptation actions include mainstreaming of climate change (mitigation and adaptation) into EU sector policies and funds, including marine and inland water issues, forestry, agriculture, biodiversity, infrastructure and buildings, but also migration and social issues.

The EU also addresses knowledge gaps through research and the European climate adaptation platform (Climate-ADAPT). This platform, launched in March 2012, provides several useful resources to support adaptation policy and decision making, such as: a toolset for adaptation planning; a projects and case studies' database; and information on adaptation action at all levels, from the EU through regional and national to the local level.

Moreover, stakeholders from the local, regional and national level are encouraged to participate in the development of the EU Adaptation Strategy. The EU is providing guidelines on integrating climate into policies and investments and on how to use the instruments and funds provided by the Commission for climate change adaptation. For instance, EU-Cities Adapt is an EU initiative to train and exchange knowledge among stakeholders at city level.