The EU gives high consideration to the issue of subsidiarity and understands its role as a facilitator of joint adaptation action by all local, regional, and national actors, both from the private and public sector. Cross-border issues call for transnational alliances for an EU approach.
Member countries of the European Environment Agency are at different stages of preparing, developing and implementing adaptation strategies. This development depends on the magnitude and nature of the observed impacts, the assessment of current and future vulnerability and the capacity to adapt.
Member countries of the European Environment Agency with (in green) and without (in yellow) an adopted adaptation strategy in January 2013
To see the different levels of adaptation policy by country, explore the interactive map in Climate-Adapt.
The EU also provides financial support for the development of adaptation strategies and projects that address key cross-sectoral, trans-regional and/or cross-border issues through its LIFE Climate Action sub-programme. The sub-programme has a budget of €864 million for the period 2014-2020.
The EU has agreed on strategies for two EU macro-regions (the Baltic Sea Region and the Danube Region) which have started considering transboundary adaptation challenges. Other transnational regions have also developed adaptation strategies. The European Commission has defined and agreed 13 regions for transnational co-operation.
The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, for instance, has identified adaptation to climate change as a priority issue for the region. This approach is also supported by the Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013 which promotes transnational, regional development. The Baltadapt project, which is financed by the programme, is developing a Baltic Sea Region-wide climate change adaptation strategy which focuses on the marine and coastal environment, addressing climate change adaptation in a cohesive manner for the entire region.
The European Commission has prepared Guidelines for the elaboration of Regional Climate Change Adaptations Strategies that are intended to stimulate and assist planning for climate change adaptation in regional and locally-based administrations, including municipalities, counties and other regional institutions. They include a review of existing strategies and guidelines, and describe the whole process of regional adaptation strategies development and implementation, with numerous links to existing tools and databases.
Local authorities have an important part to play in the success of European adaptation efforts. As major centres of population and infrastructure, cities are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events and other effects of climate change. Local authorities are therefore ideally placed to be the key drivers in the implementation of adaptation measures, improving overall resilience to climate change in a variety of policy fields. These include spatial planning, public health, civil protection, risk management, energy, water supply and the environment.
The key focus for action at local level is the Mayors Adapt initiative, a voluntary commitment within the framework of the Covenant of Mayors Initiative. Mayors Adapt has been set up by the European Commission to engage cities in taking action to adapt to climate change.
Cities signing up to the initiative commit to contributing to the overall aim of the EU Adaptation Strategy by developing a comprehensive local adaptation strategy or integrating adaptation to climate change into relevant existing plans. They agree to submit an adaptation strategy within two years of signing the commitment and report every second year on their city's achievements.
By joining the initiative, participating local authorities will benefit from support for local activities to tackle climate change, a platform for cooperation and exchange of best practice, and greater public awareness about adaptation and the measures that need to be taken.
Mayors Adapt builds on the success of the EU Cities Adapt project which provided capacity building and assistance in developing and implementing adaptation strategies for cities. It helped raise awareness throughout Europe about the importance of preparing for climate change in cities, exchanging knowledge and good practices, and developing tools and guidance for cities on adaptation.
European cities are at the forefront of a wide range of projects, programmes and strategies to increase their climate resilience. Find out more about cities' climate adaptation projects using the interactive map on Climate-Adapt.
The EU acts to raise awareness of sectoral stakeholders about the need to take into account the predicted impacts of climate change in their activities. It also fosters and supports the development of appropriate tools for assessing the risks related to climate change impacts and the possible answers to those risks. In addition, the EU encourages the dissemination of good practices in every sector put at risk by impacts of climate change.