Funding opportunities for disaster risk management within EU cohesion policy

The European Union faces multiple risks, including floods and extreme weather events (aggravated by climate change), pandemics and man-made disaster risks. The result is injury and loss of life. There is also the significant cost of damage, affecting stability and growth. Since 2005, natural disasters have cost the EU close to €100 billion.

Investing in risk prevention is vital to preserve the capacity for further socio-economic development. It is also more effective than bearing the cost of inaction: for every €1 spent on prevention, €4 or more will be saved on response. In this respect, EU cohesion policy is key to disaster prevention and management.

Additional tools


How much funding in 2014-2020?

With €8 billion for climate change adaptation and risk prevention and management, cohesion policy is one of the most important sources for funding in this area. Twenty Member States have selected risk prevention as a priority for the 2014-2020 funding period, depending on their specific needs. In addition, risk prevention, disaster resilience and climate change adaptation are integrated into other cohesion policy funding priorities, such as innovation, energy efficiency and water management.

Cohesion policy support is complemented by other EU instruments, such as the Civil Protection Mechanism, the EU Solidarity Fund, Horizon 2020, and the LIFE programme.

Thematic Objective 5: Climate change and risk prevention by Country for 2014-2020

Figure: Allocations to the objective 'Climate change adaptation and risk prevention and management' in the 2014-2020 cohesion policy programmes (available data from February 2016).

Where do the investments go?

Many activities to support risk prevention and management can be funded, including:

  • development of strategies and contingency plans,
  • reinforcement of coordination, monitoring and early warning systems,
  • awareness-raising and education,
  • flood and coastal defence,
  • protection against forest fires and wildfires,
  • equipment for civil protection units,
  • ecosystem-based solutions or
  • disaster-resilience and climate-proofing of public infrastructure.

The planned investments will increase Europe's resilience to disasters and climate change. This includes protecting 13.3 million people from floods and 11.8 million from forest fires.

Project examples

Stopping Athens floods: 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.

Forest defence centres in Andalusia: The ERDF invested €2 million to improve the defence centre against forest fires in Vélez-Blanco, Andalusia (Spain). The centre now covers 11 municipalities and 150,000 residents in a region at high risk of fire. A new heliport means better work with other rescue services in the area. The project also links closely to parallel efforts in forest management, and training and awareness-raising.  

Joint risk monitoring in the Danube border area: Floods, air pollution and severe weather cause much damage on both Bulgarian and Romanian sides of the Danube. Improved cooperation and the development of a joint monitoring and reaction system has been supported by a cross-border cooperation project. There is now better emergency preparedness and risk management.

More project examples can be found here.

Working with nature

Ecosystem-based solutions, such as floodplains or wetlands, are supported as a priority. These help environmental protection, and are generally cheaper in the long term. In order to adapt to climate change, the EU encourages the development of green infrastructure, to protect biodiversity and preserve ecosystem services.

Innovative solutions

Cohesion policy also supports research and innovation activities, for new approaches to risk prevention and management. A number of regions have selected risk-related areas in their smart specialisation strategies, which steer their research and innovation investments.

A strategic policy approach going beyond funding

So that resources are used in the best way, there has to be a strategic, long-term approach. That is why cohesion policy investments must be based on national or regional risk assessments, also required under EU civil protection legislation. They must also take climate change adaptation strategies into account. Since these require expertise, the Commission supports Member States, regions and cities with technical assistance and capacity-building.

Risks do not respect borders. Cross-border and transnational cooperation programmes work across national borders. In addition, the EU's Adriatic-Ionian, Alpine, Baltic Sea and Danube Macro-Regional Strategies make good joint risk management a major reality.

Cities are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and of disasters. In this respect, urban development projects now pay better attention to risk prevention and management and to climate change adaptation.


How can you get support?

The various cohesion policy programmes adopted in 2014 and 2015 specify the funding opportunities for all Member States and regions until 2020. Member States run the programmes, via Managing Authorities. These give information on the programmes, select projects and assist implementation. On this website you can read the programmes and discover the contacts of your Managing Authorities.