Number of countries that have adopted a climate change adaptation strategy/plan

Briefing Published 30 Nov 2017 Last modified 24 May 2018
9 min read
Number of countries that have adopted a climate change adaptation strategy/plan

Indicator

EU indicator past trend

Selected objective to be met by 2020

Indicative outlook of the EU meeting the selected objective by 2020

Number of countries that have adopted a climate change adaptation strategy and/or plan

N.A.[1]

Make decisive progress in adapting to the impact of climate change — 7th EAP

Stable or unclear trend

There has been an increase in the number of countries that have adopted a national adaptation strategy and/or plan and this is expected to continue. However, information on the 'decisive progress' of these policies towards reducing vulnerability and enhancing resilience to climate change is limited, preventing firm conclusions with respect to the 2020 outlook

For further information on the scoreboard methodology please see Box I.3 in the EEA Environmental indicator report 2017

 

The Seventh Environment Action Programme (7th EAP) calls for decisive progress to be made in adapting to the impact of climate change. Climate change has had and will continue to have many impacts on the environment, human health and the economy. Adaptation of Europe's society to climate change is necessary to address the adverse impacts of climate change and complement efforts to mitigate climate change. Action to mitigate climate change and adapt to it will increase the resilience of the EU's economy and society, while stimulating innovation and protecting the EU's natural resources. To date, 25 EU Member States have adopted a national adaptation strategy (NAS) and 15 have developed a national adaptation plan (NAP). There has been an increase in the number of countries that have adopted national adaptation strategies and/or plans and this is expected to continue and to deepen, with additional countries adopting follow-up adaptation policies and implementation plans. However, information on the progress of these policies in reducing vulnerability and enhancing resilience is limited, so the outlook towards 2020 for this 7th EAP objective remains uncertain.

Setting the scene

The 7th EAP calls for decisive progress to be made in adapting to climate change to make Europe more climate resilient (EU, 2013a). Climate change impacts can be seen in global sea level rise, changes in precipitation (e.g. increases in northern and north-western Europe and decreases in southern Europe), decreasing snow cover, glaciers, sea ice and ice sheets. These changes lead to a wide range of often adverse impacts on environmental systems, economic sectors, and human health and well-being in Europe (EEA, 2017a; IPCC, 2014). Climate change adaptation addresses the adverse effects of climate change and builds resilience to reduce vulnerabilities and risks to the environment, human health and the economy (including infrastructure).

Policy targets and progress

The European Commission's White Paper (EC, 2009) and EU strategy on adaptation to climate change (EC, 2013) encourage all Member States to adopt comprehensive adaptation strategies. The strategy promotes action in cities and the mainstreaming of adaptation in relevant EU policies and programmes. In addition, it provides funding for actions, enhances research under the Horizon 2020 programme for environment and climate action[2], and promotes information sharing through the European Climate Adaptation Platform[3]. In 2017-2018, the European Commission will perform an evaluation (EC, 2016) assessing whether or not the action being taken by the EU and in the Member States is sufficient. The European Commission will publish the results in a report due in 2018, which will include an adaptation preparedness scoreboard, with key process-based indicators for measuring Member States' levels of readiness.

Adaptation policy receives EU financial resources from the EU budget in the period 2014-2020. It is intended that 20 % of the budget should be used for climate-related actions (i.e. adaptation and climate change mitigation).

National Adaptation Strategies (NASs) usually address overarching issues that allow them to position adaptation on the policy agenda. These strategies recognise the importance of expected climate change impacts and the need to adapt, and they facilitate the process of coordinating the adaptation response, increasing awareness of adaptation and stakeholder involvement, assessing risks and vulnerabilities, and identifying knowledge gaps.

National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) usually aim to implement NASs and to organise activities for achieving their objectives, typically through sectoral implementation. Although adaptation implementation at national level is still at an early stage, adaptation planning work is under way in most countries.

Country level information

Table 1 provides an overview of progress with the adoption of national and sectoral climate change adaptation strategies and plans by EEA member countries. To date, 25 EU Member States and three other EEA member countries have adopted NASs. In addition, 15 EU Member States and two other EEA member countries have developed NAPs. Table 1 shows that over the last five years there has been a steady increase in the number of NASs and NAPs being adopted by countries, and this is expected to continue as the EU Member States not having a NAS today are in the process of drafting one, with additional countries adopting NAPs as well as implementing more specific adaptation policies and actions in line with their strategies and plans. Over the same period, several countries that adopted their NAS some years ago reviewed and adopted a revised NAS.

Table 1. Overview of national and sectoral climate change adaptation strategies and plans, by country

Data source: EEA, 2014, 2017b.

Note: information reported by EU Member States under the European mechanism for monitoring and reporting information relevant to climate change (EU, 2013b) and additional information provided on a voluntary basis to EEA up to September 2017 and the draft country fiches of the European Commission Adaptation Scoreboard (EC, 2017)  for other EEA member countries information provided on a voluntary basis to the EEA up to September 2017.

Regarding the implementation of adaptation policies and actions (EEA, 2017b), sectors addressed mostly in NAS and NAP are freshwater management, flood risk management, agriculture and forestry. The adaptation actions in these sectors have mostly consisted of mainstreaming adaptation priorities into these national sectoral policy areas. Several countries have also developed national health strategies and action plans, including early warning systems for heatwaves and enhanced surveillance of infectious diseases (EEA, 2014).

A limited number of countries have started to monitor and report on adaptation policies and actions at national level (EEA, 2014). So far, even fewer countries evaluate adaptation policies at national level; there are various reasons, including the fact that implementation of adaptation has only just begun (EEA, 2015). The countries that monitor these use mainly 'process-based' methods, assessing to what extent agreed stages in the process of taking actions have taken place. Very few countries use 'outcome-based' approaches, assessing if and how vulnerability has decreased and/or resilience has increased, because this is methodologically very complex and also resource intensive. It will therefore not be possible to determine with any certainty whether or not decisive progress in adapting to the impact of climate change can be achieved by 2020.

Transnational cooperation in adaptation to climate change has increased with the recognition of the importance of adaptation as a cross-cutting policy area. Adaptation actions take place, for example, within the EU Baltic Sea region strategy, the Danube Commission and the Carpathian and Alpine conventions. Adaptation action is often linked to the sharing of natural resources such as transboundary water catchments (EEA, 2017a).

Outlook beyond 2020

Because of expected future climate change impacts, efforts to adapt to climate change and to make Europe more climate resilient need to be strengthened in future. NASs and NAPs, together with the EU's adaptation strategy (EC, 2013), are expected to be further implemented, and mainstreaming of climate change adaptation in policies is expected to continue. Key global agreements that can also enhance action on adaptation in Europe include the Paris Agreement (UNFCCC, 2015), which requires countries to take adaptation action, complementary to climate change mitigation action, and the 2015 UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (SFDRR) (UNISDR, 2015), which acknowledges climate change as one of the drivers of disaster risk and requires countries to take risk prevention and reduction measures.

About the indicator

This indicator shows the number of countries that have adopted an adaptation strategy and/or plan. It indicates how many countries have made progress on adapting to climate change by putting this issue on the policy agenda (through adaptation strategies) and by organizing specific activities that will help achieve the aims of their adaptation strategies (through national and/or sectoral adaptation action plans). Many of these action plans have been in place for only a few years (see Table 1), so implementation has started rather recently. There is limited quantitative information available, and in only a few countries, on the effectiveness of adaptation strategies and plans regarding enhanced resilience and reduced vulnerabilities and risks. This indicator is therefore not yet able to show the effectiveness of these strategies and plans in making Europe more climate resilient. More information on this is expected to become available in future when more countries implement monitoring, reporting and evaluation adaptation schemes.

 

Footnotes and references

[1] N.A. It is not possible to measure a trend, since this is a binary measure, i.e. whether or not a policy has been adopted.

[2] https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/h2020-section/fighting-and-adapting-climate-change-1 accessed 4 April 2017.

[3] http://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/ accessed 4 April 2017.

 

EC, 2009, White Paper 'Adapting to climate change: Towards a European framework for action', Brussels (COM(2009) 147/4) (https://ec.europa.eu/health/archive/ph_threats/climate/docs/com_2009_147_en.pdf) accessed 4 April 2017.

EC, 2013, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions 'An EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change' (COM(2013) 216 final of 16 April 2013) (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A52013DC0216) accessed 4 April 2017.

EC, 2016, Evaluation Roadmap: Evaluation of the EU Adaptation Strategy (http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/roadmaps/docs/2016_clima_011_evaluation_adaptation_strategy_en.pdf) accessed 4 April 2017.

EC, 2017, forthcoming, Draft country fiches of the European Commission Adaptation Scoreboard, to be presented at the start of the online stakeholder consultation on the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change in December 2017 (https://ec.europa.eu/clima/index_en).

EEA, 2014, National adaptation policy processes in European countries — 2014, EEA Report No 4/2014, European Environment Agency (http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/national-adaptation-policy-processes) accessed 4 April 2017.  

EEA, 2015, National monitoring, reporting and evaluation of climate change adaptation in Europe, EEA Technical Report No 20/2015, European Environment Agency (http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/national-monitoring-reporting-and-evaluation) accessed 4 April 2017.

EEA, 2017a, Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2016 — An indicator-based report, European Environment Agency (http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/climate-change-impacts-and-vulnerability-2016) accessed 4 April 2017.

EEA, 2017b, Updated country pages in the European Climate Adapt Platform (http://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/countries-regions/countries) accessed 4 April 2017.

EU, 2013a, Decision No 1386/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 'Living well, within the limits of our planet' (OJ L 354/171, 28.12.2013), Annex A, paragraphs 45 and 54 (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A32013D1386) accessed 4 April 2017.

EU, 2013b, Regulation (EU) No 525/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on a mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and for reporting other information at national and Union level relevant to climate change and repealing Decision No 280/2004/EC (OJ L 165/13, 18.6.2013) (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A32013R0525) accessed 3 April 2017.

IPCC, 2014, Climate change 2014: Impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability — Working Group II Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, and New York, NY, USA (http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/) accessed 4 April 2017.

UNFCCC, 2015, Report of the Conference of the Parties on its twenty-first session, held in Paris from 30 November to 13 December 2015, Adoption of the Paris Agreement, UNFCCC, Bonn, /CP/2015/10/Add.1. (http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/10.pdf) accessed 4 April 2017.

UNISDR, 2015, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Geneva (https://www.unisdr.org/files/43291_sendaiframeworkfordrren.pdf) accessed 4 April 2017.

 

Environmental indicator report 2017 – In support to the monitoring of the 7th Environment Action Programme, EEA report No21/2017, European Environment Agency

Related content

Figures used

Related briefings

Related publications

Temporal coverage

Document Actions
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100