Adapting to climate change: European countries assess vulnerability and risks

News Published 23 Apr 2018 Last modified 30 Aug 2019
2 min read
Almost all European countries have conducted national climate change vulnerability and risk assessments as part of their adaptation plans to better deal with the impacts of climate-related hazards, according to a European Environment Agency (EEA) report published today.

The EEA report ‘National climate change vulnerability and risk assessments in Europe 2018,’ is the first review of how the 33 EEA member countries (including the 28 European Union Member States) have assessed the risks from climate change, and how they used this information in developing adaptation policies to address these risks. Adaptation is key to ensure that the EU as a whole is better prepared to handle the impacts of heat waves, floods, droughts and storm surges.

The report is based on a survey which was completed by 24 of the 33 EEA member countries. Information for additional countries was gathered from Climate-ADAPT – the European climate adaptation platform – and other public sources of information. The report aims to promote a better understanding among experts and policymakers involved in adaptation planning. The findings will contribute to better informed decision making and adaptation in key vulnerable sectors, such as agriculture, fisheries, biodiversity protection, spatial planning and infrastructure development. They will also help inform the European Commission’s on-going evaluation of the EU Adaptation Strategy.

National assessments that evaluate vulnerabilities and risks from climate change to various sectors form the most important source of information for the development of national climate adaptation policies. Many assessments do not stop at identifying risks, but they also identify suitable adaptation measures to reduce these risks. The EEA report recommends that such assessments should consider climate change jointly with other relevant developments, such as population changes and economic development. The report also identified knowledge gaps in current assessments, for example, how climate impacts outside Europe can affect Europe through trade relationships or climate-induced migration.

The report suggests that continued engagement with key stakeholders in sectors vulnerable to climate change is essential for improving assessment results and their uptake in adaptation policies. Adaptation to climate change shares common features with disaster prevention and risk reduction. Therefore, learning between these two policy areas and consideration of national risk assessments in climate change assessments can improve adaptation planning. Based on the experiences reported, the report recommends regular updating of national climate change vulnerability and risk assessments, about every five years, to ensure that adaptation plans and policies are kept abreast of the latest developments in science and society.




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