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

Briefing Last modified 07 Dec 2018
11 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 for 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 2018

 

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. European society must adapt in order to address the adverse impacts of climate change, and to complement efforts to mitigate it. Such mitigation and adaptation actions 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].

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

The European Commission evaluated the EU strategy and published the results in a report on 12 November 2018 (EC, 2018a; 2018b). The report included an adaptation preparedness scoreboard, with key process-based indicators that measured Member States' levels of readiness. The evaluation concluded, inter alia, that the EU strategy succeeded in promoting adaptation planning (including strategies) in the Member States at all levels, but was less effective on the carrying out and monitoring of the planning (EC, 2018a; 2018b). 

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[4].

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.

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[5]. 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. Over the same period, several countries that adopted their NAS some years ago reviewed and adopted a revised NAS.

Progress is expected to continue as the EU Member States without a NAS today are in the process of drafting one. It is also expected that additional countries will adopt NAPs and that they will implement more specific adaptation policies and actions in line with their strategies and plans.

Regarding the implementation of adaptation policies and actions (EEA, 2017b), sectors addressed mostly in the NASs and the NAPs 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 are evaluating adaptation policies at national level; there are various reasons for this, including the fact that implementation of adaptation has only just begun (EEA, 2015). The countries that monitor these use mainly 'process-based' methods, which assess to what extent agreed steps in the action-taking process have been carried out. Very few countries use 'outcome-based' approaches to assess if and how vulnerability has decreased and/or resilience has increased, because such approaches use complex methodologies and are resource intensive (ETC/CCA, 2018). It will therefore not be possible to determine with any certainty whether or not decisive progress in adapting to the impacts 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 Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, the Danube Commission and the Carpathian and Alpine Conventions[6]. Adaptation action is often linked to the sharing of natural resources such as transboundary water catchments (EEA, 2017a).

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

Data source: EC, 2018b,  EEA, 2017b,  EEA, 2014

Note: For the EU Member States the table is based on information reported by the Member States under the European mechanism for monitoring and reporting information relevant to climate change (EU, 2013b), via the country fiches of the European Commission Adaptation Scoreboard (EC, 2018b) and complemented by additional information provided on a voluntary basis to the EEA up to 30 September 2018. For other EEA member countries, information is provided on a voluntary basis to the EEA up to 30 September 2018.

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 that is 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 organising 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 5 February 2018.

[3] http://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/ accessed 5 February 2018.

[4] The NAS and NAP definitions are at present rather generic leaving room for interpretation as to whether country documents qualify as a NAS/NAP. The results presented in Table 1 should therefore be read with this in mind.

[5] Furthermore, Bulgaria and Sweden have regional adaptation plans covering multiple sectors in place for all regions without a NAS and/or a NAP being in place.

[6] EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (https://www.balticsea-region-strategy.eu/) accessed 5 March 2018, Danube Commission (http://www.danubecommission.org/dc/en/) accessed 5 March 2018, Carpathian Convention (http://www.carpathianconvention.org/), Alpine Convention (http://www.alpconv.org/en/convention/default.html) accessed 5 March 2018.

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 5 February 2018.

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 5 February 2018.

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 5 February 2018.

EC, 2018a, Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation of the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change (COM(2018) 738 final of 12 November 2018) (http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/rep/1/2018/EN/COM-2018-738-F1-EN-MAIN-PART-1.PDF) accessed 12 November 2018.

EC, 2018b, Commission Staff Working Document ‘Adaptation preparedness scoreboard Country fiches’ Accompanying the document Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation of the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change (SWD(2018)460 final of 12 November 2018) (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=SWD:2018:460:FIN&from=EN) accessed 12 November 2018.

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 5 February 2018.  

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 5 February 2018.

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 5 February 2018.

EEA, 2017b, Updated country pages in the European Climate-ADAPT Platform (http://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/countries-regions/countries) accessed 5 February 2018.

ETC/CCA, 2018, Indicators for adaptation to climate change at national level - Lessons from emerging practice in Europe, ETC/CCA Technical Paper 2018/3 (https://cca.eionet.europa.eu/docs/TP_3-2018) accessed 12 November 2018.

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 5 February 2018.

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 5 February 2018.

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 12 February 2018.

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 5 February 2018.

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 12 February 2018.

Environmental indicator report 2018 – In support to the monitoring of the 7th Environment Action Programme, EEA report No19/2018, European Environment Agency

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