Strategies and policies

Adaptation strategies are needed at local, regional, national, EU and international levels in order to anticipate the adverse effects of climate change and prevent or minimize the damage.

Such strategies often have an urban dimension, and cities have a major role in their implementation. The Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy is the main conduit for EU support to cities for climate-change adaptation.

Adaptation is complementary to efforts to cut greenhouse-gas emissions in cities, which are covered by other topics such as Energy transition in citiesUrban mobilityCircular economy in cities, and Sustainable use of land and nature-based solutions in cities.

The partnership of the Urban Agenda for the EU on climate adaptation aims to find the best way to translate the needs of cities into concrete action through proposals of better regulation, funding and knowledge exchange, to achieve a common awareness level of the criticality of climate change, to develop progressively city capacities to address the impacts of such a change.

The EU Adaptation Strategy

In 2013, the European Commission adopted an EU strategy on adaptation to climate change,  welcomed by the EU Member States. The strategy aims to make Europe more climate-resilient.

The EU Adaptation Strategy focuses on three key objectives:

  • Promoting action by Member States: The Commission encourages all Member States to adopt comprehensive adaptation strategies and provides funding to help them build up their adaptation capacities and take action. It also supports adaptation in cities through the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy initiative.
  • '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).

Main documents

Climate strategies and targets

EU climate adaptation strategy (2013)

Other documents

Environment Action Programme to 2020

Environment Action Programme to 2030

Urban data and studies

Climate-ADAPT urban section

Urban Adaptation Support Tool

Covenant technical materials
Urban Data Platform

Citizen support for climate action - Survey (2019)

Quality of life in European cities - Survey (2020)

European Environment Agency



Adaptation strategies for European Cities: final report (2013)

Open Data Portal for ESI

Funding opportunities and advice


European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI)

European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF)

European Investment Project Portal

Urban Innovative Actions (UIA)

For more information and other funding opportunities, please visit our dedicated funding page.


LIFE NCFF (Natural Capital Financing Facility)

'Marguerite' fund for energy, climate change and infrastructure

JPI Urban Europe

Advice and technical assistance


Urbis is a new dedicated urban investment advisory platform within the European Investment Advisory Hub. It is set up to provide advisory support to urban authorities to facilitate, accelerate and unlock urban investment projects, programmes and platforms.

Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions (JASPERS) 

JASPERS is the 'Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions', free of charge for local authorities and promotors, which advices cities and regions on strategic planning in a wide range of sectors. It supports the preparation of projects in areas benefiting from EU funds so they meet all the necessary standards.

Missions in Horizon Europe: Climate-neutral and smart cities

The European research and innovation missions aim to deliver solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing our world. They are an integral part of the Horizon Europe framework programme beginning in 2021.

One of the five mission areas is climate-neutral and smart cities which aims to help us to meet targets set out by the COP21 Paris Agreement, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (notably SDG11), the Urban Agenda for the EU and the Habitat III New Urban Agenda as cities play a key role in all of them.


Mainstreaming climate action - European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) fact sheet

Mainstreaming climate action - European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) fact sheet
Mainstreaming climate action - Cohesion Fund (CF) fact sheet
Mainstreaming climate action - European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) fact sheet
Mainstreaming climate action - European Social Fund (ESF) fact sheet
Climate change and major projects
Quick reference guide

Beginner's Guide to EU Funding

Accessing regional-policy funds


Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy



European Green Capital Award (EGCA)

European Green Leaf (EGL)

European Capital of Innovation

Project databases and examples


LIFE project database

REGIO project database

Case studies database: Climate-ADAPT


Stopping Athens floods: Funding opportunities for disaster risk management within EU cohesion policy
Western Attica (Greece) has serious flood problems. The Cohesion Fund financed an €80 million flood protection project along the Eschatia river. This protects 134,000 local residents and their property from floods in the suburbs of Athens. It has also created over 700 jobs and promoted urban regeneration in a low-income area. The construction of new flood defence structures stops floods now, and it will also allow the future development of the area upstream the river.

Strategic Initiative Cluster adapt!
8 transnational projects with almost 100 project partners jointly promote climate adaptation in North-West Europe 

URBACT network: Resilient Europe
Cities in the URBACT network share experiences in order to foster resilience and sustainability

LIFE Resilient communities projects
Recent LIFE projects focusing on promoting resilient communities 

LIFE HydroClimateStrategyRiga
Helping the city of Riga (Latvia) adapt to hydrological processes intensified by climate change

Making critical infrastructure more resistant to climate change

Reconciling Adaptation, Mitigation and Sustainable Development for Cities (RAMSES)

Flood and heat-proof, green Emscher valley
Strengthening the green infrastructure network and adapting water management in Germany

Climate-resilient cities and infrastructures

Promoting innovation in disaster resilience

Smart Mature Resilience 

Collaborative research on flood resilience in urban areas

Improving preparedness and risk management for flash floods and debris flow

Responses to coastal climate change: innovative strategies for high‑end scenarios - adaptation and mitigation

GEO-Citizens' Observatories
Support sharing of technological solutions and community participatory governance methods

EU legislation

Environmental Impact Assessment Directive
Directive 85/337/EEC applies to a wide range of public and private urban-development projects.

Water Framework Directive - integrated river basin management for Europe
Directive 2000/60/EC is a response to demands by citizens and environmental organisations for cleaner rivers and lakes, groundwater and coastal beaches.

Floods Directive
Directive 2007/60/EC obliges EU countries to assess and reduce flood risks.

Urban Waste Water Directive
Directive 91/271/EEC seeks to protect the environment from the adverse effects of urban and industrial waste water discharge.

Civil Protection Mechanism
Established in 2001 to deliver governmental aid in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.