Greener and better prepared: cities and regions in the new EU Climate Adaptation Strategy

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The new EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change unveiled on 24 February 2021 by the European Commission aims to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience, and reduce vulnerability to climate change. According to the long-term vision established therein, Europe will be fully prepared to face the unavoidable impacts of climate change, which will materialise even if carbon neutrality is reached by 2050.

Climate adaptation is the opposite of a ‘one time emergency response’ and requires across the board measures to improve preparedness against climate impacts. It complements mitigation, i.e. the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions the Union is pursuing to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global temperature to 1,5º above pre-industrial levels. The new Strategy, together with the deeper emission cuts (at least 55% by 2030) recently committed to by the EU, is anchored to the European Climate Law currently being negotiated.

Adaptation needs to be systemic and based on the recognition of the full interdependency between climate change and the maintenance of ecosystem services provided by nature, such as biodiversity, food, clean air, drinking water and flood protection. That is why, to ensure these are preserved and enhanced, the Strategy emphasises that decisive actions should be taken to promote nature-based solutions and reinforce blue-green infrastructures in cities and regions across the Union. This can be done by taking advantage of the financial support coming from the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), the Cohesion policy and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), among others.

The Strategy also acknowledges that that ‘the local level is the bedrock of adaptation’ and underlines that its implementation needs to be ‘spread to every single local authority’. The Commission is also of the view that the just transition should not be forgotten when forging a climate-resilient continent: special attention should thus be given to regions relying on sectors likely to be affected by unavoidable climate impacts, such as agriculture, fisheries and tourism.

Interreg Europe is well placed to respond to the ‘adaptation challenges’ that the Strategy labels as ‘local and specific’ and has exactly what it takes to meet them by means of ‘widely transferable and applicable’ solutions. To discover wide array of highly replicable good practices on nature-based solutions and ecosystem services that can inspire the implementation of the Strategy check these projects: Aquares, BID-REX, BIGDATA4RIVERS, BIOGOV, Blue Green City, CityZen, Delta Lady, HERICOAST, INVALIS, Land-Sea, PERFECT, PROGRESS, SWARE and WaVe.

 

Photo by 贝莉儿 DANIST on Unsplash
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