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European Commission


Brussels, 16 April 2013

EU strategy on adaptation to climate change

Media resource sheet

Maps of projected climatic changes in Europe

(Based on Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2012. European Environment Agency)

Change in annual and summer precipitation for 2071–2100 vs 1961–1990 (%)

Average number of simultaneous hot days and tropical nights

Fire danger

Note: Seasonal severity rating (SSR) is an index used to assess the severity of fire risk

Examples of adaptation projects in EU Member States


Kruibeke flood control area

Kruibeke is a small municipality in Flanders, across the river from harbour city Antwerp. It is located in a flood prone area of Belgium, once reclaimed from the river Scheldt.

The inhabitants of this region face a substantial flood risk when a spring tide occurs with a North Western storm. On average twice a year such an event causes a big storm surge to be pushed from the sea into the river Scheldt. This causes high water levels and a severe pressure on the Scheldt dykes. The safety of the area around the river Scheldt needed to be improved to address the existing risk, a matter all the more urgent taking projected climate change into account. By lowering the dike of the Scheldt along a distance of 8 kilometres, the top of the storm wave is cut off, allowing the water to flow into the designated area (600 ha) in a controlled manner. The creation of this flood control area is part of the Sigma Plan that will support safety, environment, shipping and recreation along the Scheldt river.

Further information: (pages 30-33)


Protecting the coast from erosion using hard rock measures

Shabla municipality took the conscious decision to compromise part of its coastal landscape in favour of hard rock measures to protect the coast from severe annual erosion. Various structures were built to safeguard the coastline and ensure the livelihoods of the local communities. The measures proved effective to ‘’hold the line’’ and the increased safety has allowed other economic activities to develop e.g. eco-tourism.

Further information  


Adapting agricultural production to climate change and limited water supply (LIFE project)

The overall objective of the project is to demonstrate adaptation of agricultural production to climate change and limited water supply. Specifically, it aims to minimise agricultural water use by introducing a water-recycling method in a closed, fully automated, hydroponic greenhouse system. The aim is to fully recycle the water and also reduce GHG emissions by using the renewable energy source. It also aims to: comply with the requirements of the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); and minimise water pollution and other environmental effects of agriculture

Further information:  


Beach nourishment as a successful measure against erosion, Rostock

Hard constructions for the protection of a highly dynamic coast have not been sufficient to prevent coastal erosion. Sand nourishment in combination with marram grass planting in the dunes and maintenance of coastal forests behind the dunes was found to be an efficient way to protect the coast from further decline. Geo-textiles are used to increase protection at locations where dune ridges are narrow. Sand nourishments have to be repeated depending on occurring erosion and storm surges, on average about every 6 years.

Further information:  


Copenhagen climate adaptation plan

The City of Copenhagen is amongst the frontrunners on climate change adaptation. The adaptation plan gives details of the three levels of adaptation.

The first, with the highest priority, is to prevent damage where there is a high indication of risk. The second, where damage is unavoidable, responses seek to

minimise the costs of damage. The third level – of lower priority – is to reduce the vulnerability of key receptors to damage. The plan mainly addresses adapting to increased precipitation frequency and intensity and heat waves. The adaptation options proposed include technical, hard-end solutions, such as managing rainwater runoff locally and increasing levels of green space cover.

Further information:


Climforisk - Climate change induced drought effects on forest growth and vulnerability (LIFE project)

This project aims to improve knowledge of how forest growth could change in future by compiling existing data and models. Information compiled by the project will establish a better basis for regional forest management planning in the context of climate change.

The overall objective of the project is to build and demonstrate a system that predicts changes in forest growth and vulnerability in the context of climate change. The system will be used to develop maps and indicators that will support decision-making by public officials and forest managers. The proposed approach builds on long-term forest monitoring data and links these to models of forest productivity. These data will then be linked to simulated variables that determine the susceptibility of forests to abiotic (drought) and biotic (pests/pathogens) damage. The simulations will enable the accurate prediction of changes in the susceptibility to damage of forests.

Further information:


Agroforestry: Adaptation of plurispecific systems to climate change

Throughout France farmers have started experimenting with the concept of agroforestry. Agroforestry systems can be less vulnerable to climate change. In an agroforestry scheme trees provide shelter to crops and reduce the risks induced by high spring temperatures.

In Montpellier an agroforestry scheme has been implemented for 20 years. The scheme mimics some features of natural ecosystems, yet is driven by farmers and forest managers to deliver a range of goods and services. In France, about 3,000 hectares of agroforestry systems are now planted each year and it is expected that within the next 25 years, about 500,000 hectares of agroforestry schemes will have been implemented.

Further information: (pages 134-139)


CALCHAS - Development of an integrated analysis system for the effective fire conservancy of forests (LIFE project)

Fire is the most important natural threat to forests and wooded areas of the Mediterranean basin. Evaluation of hazards, good planning, proper management strategies and co-operation are vital elements and will be the main focus of the CALCHAS project. The project will use a forest-fire simulation tool that is capable of estimating the evolution of a wild forest fire. The tool does this by using as inputs data on ignition points, real environmental conditions, the vegetation of the area and spatial information (isocontours and ground elevation).

Further information:


Tatabánya heat and UV-warning system

Tatabánya in Hungary, a city with about 70,000 citizens, has a working heat- and UV-warning system that forecasts extremely hot weather and sets in motion a heat wave protocol: a series of activities to help citizens prepare for this heat. Heat waves cause health risks, especially for those most vulnerable, including older people, children and pregnant women, such as heat strokes, sun burn, dehydration and heart problems, which can be managed if people take precautions. The heat- and UV-warning system predicts upcoming heat waves and high solar radiation with high-tech weather prediction devices. Based on these predictions information is distributed to encourage citizens to take measures to better protect themselves against heat and harmful UV radiation. A key aspect of the system is that the information is transferred rapidly and through different channels.

The warning system is part of the Local Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan of Tatabánya and has been run continually since 2008.

Further information: (pages 112-117)


A more holistic approach to beach management by a local authority

County Donegal is geographically the most northern county in Ireland. The issues facing beach managers in Donegal are broad and multi-faceted. Coastal erosion is important with 90% of soft coastline considered at risk and hard coastal defence measures often leading to increased erosion downdrift. There is also a public perception that action should be taken to prevent coastal erosion, despite the fact that it is a natural process in any coastal system. The proliferation of holiday homes and over-development of remote villages has led to increased pressure on infrastructure, such as water services and sewerage systems, as well as incompatible user conflicts.

This case describes the application of a strategic alliance between the local authority and a research centres to address the problem of coastal erosion on soft beaches in Donegal and advise on soft engineering approaches. This relationship enhanced capacity of the Council staff in dealing with erosion. A more holistic approach to integrated coastal zone management was nurtured which represented a move away from traditional, site-focused management.

Further information:


Defence of Venice littoral islands

Over time the Venice coastal strip has lost its defensive function. The built-up areas closest to the sea are ever more at risk. These problems have been addressed through a complex programme of interventions, including the reinforcement of the coastline. The measures adopted are the most important protected beach nourishment projects ever implemented in Italy on an eroding coastline with sea wall, according to the most advanced techniques of modern coastal engineering.

Further information:  


Improved water resource management in areas with acute water shortage

In Malta, extreme water shortage has led to integrated water resource management being used to improve water supply. With limited options to either decrease demand or increase supply without large-scale, expensive solutions, the problem of water leakage has been tackled. Water lost to leakage has been reduced by 50%, eliminating the need for expensive desalination plants along the coast.

Further information:

The Netherlands

Restoration of an island landscape, Tiengemeten

Tiengemeten is a 1000 ha. island lying in the estuary of the Haringvliet estuary in the Dutch Rhine-Maas delta, just south of Rotterdam. Between 1705 and 2005, it was predominantly agricultural. As dykes were strengthened and storm barriers were built to keep the sea out, the land was well protected against the threat of floods, but the tidal nature that was common in the south-west part of the Netherlands has almost disappeared.
The island now has been restored to a natural, wetland and wooded area suitable for wildlife and recreation. These changes help manage impacts of climate change and safeguard the resilience of coasts/coastal systems.

Further information:


Tamera water retention landscape

Although Portugal has a similar average rainfall to Central Europe the soil is unable to hold on to nutrients and water. Projected

climate change is expected to aggravate the drought already present. The province of Alentejo in the south of Portugal is one of the areas that face serious desertification problems. Tamera, an international training and experimental site, works on solutions for the disturbed water balance in the region by creating water retention landscapes. These landscapes contain lakes that will provide a solution for desertification, water scarcity, flooding and rural de-population. Retention lakes are created by building earth dams, behind which rainwater is stored. A total of 6 lakes has been built since 2007, and 10 more retention areas are planned. The lake grounds are not sealed, so the water can seep into and soak the surrounding earth-body. In addition, the lakes were built with deep and shallow zones, thereby connecting the lakes to the groundwater.

Further information: (pages 152-157)


Planting more trees in dry areas

Planting trees in dry areas of the Iberian peninsula can prevent desertification and can help to increase the resilience of the area to projected climate change. However until now reforestation projects have only been partly successful because of the continuous need for water, extremely low survival rates of trees and high overall costs. The Green Deserts project in Spain found a way to overcome these problems and aims at converting 63 hectares of bare and dry land into forest by planting around 55,000 trees in the five Spanish regions Valladolid, León, Zamora, Zaragoza and Barcelona, with the use of an innovative invention called the Waterboxx.

Further information: (pages 146-151)

United Kingdom

Woodland can help to sequester carbon, reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and support the adaptation of areas to inevitable changes of the climate in the future, including extreme rainfall events and flooding. This triggered Somerset County Council six years ago to encourage the development of so called Community Woodlands. Since then, twelve Community Woodlands have been established with local residents. The woodlands are usually between a quarter and five hectares of managed (semi) wild areas with trees and shrubs located within a short walking distance to the next village or town. The Community Woodlands (part of the EU WAVE project) support Somerset in becoming more climate resilient and preparing the water system for projected climate change. Trees can alleviate the severity of flooding because they increase the water-holding capacity of the ground and slow down water runoff.

Further information: (pages 50-53)

Regional projects

Adaptation to the spatial impacts of climate change in north-west Europe (SIC adapt!)

SIC adapt! is a 'strategic initiative cluster' (SIC) of the INTERREG IV B North West Europe (NWE) Programme dealing with adaptation to the impacts of climate change. Eight approved transnational projects originating from seven Member States of the NWE Programme with around 100 partner organisations are involved joining public authorities from all levels, scientific institutions, non profit and private organisations.

Further information:

Other key information sources

European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT):

See also: IP/13/329 and MEMO/13/334

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