Rapidly advancing climate change is having an ever increasing impact on our water resources. Longer and more intense periods of drought, floods and storm surges affect inland waters and coastal regions in a number of ways. Water scarcity, changed precipitation patterns, and the deterioration of water quality have far-reaching consequences for the drinking water supply and water protection. Sustainable water management is necessary to increase the resilience of water resources and be prepared for future extreme weather situations and climatic changes. Only in this way can we secure the water supply for water-dependent economic sectors and ecosystems for the long term. While the transition to climate-resilient water management requires ambitious adaptation measures, in practice, these create numerous synergy effects for other sustainability goals, e.g. for climate and nature conservation.
The preparatory phase of the new EU adaptation strategy, which was published in early 2021, offered the opportunity to address important questions in the context of climate adaptation: Does current policy sufficiently promote climate-resilient water management across sectors and in cross-border contexts? Will policy changes bring about the necessary change to prevent water-related risks, particularly for sectors or locations that will be most affected? And how can we ensure that its implementation in the EU Member States keeps pace with – or stays ahead of – climate change? The conference “Climate Change and the European Water Dimension – Increasing Resilience”, which took place on November 4 and 5, intended to address these questions. Some 200 key actors form science, politics and industry attended it. The conference took place as part of the Trio Council Presidency of Germany, Slovenia and Portugal and was organised by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).
As the project leader, adelphi played a major role in the implementation of all elements of the conference and in particular took the lead in developing policy recommendations and background papers. Working with FreshThoughts Consulting, adelphi planned and organised the digital conference, as well as developed content to ensure the information has a robust scientific basis. To this end, the consortium developed a comprehensive background paper to provide insight into the most important topics and developments. The background paper was intended to promote a lively and goal-oriented discussion at the conference, allowing participants to identify urgent challenges and solutions in the context of water-related adaptation. The conference also aimed to develop specific action requirements and recommendations for relevant EU policy instruments and processes, such as the new adaptation strategy. To this end, a policy paper was also developed in advance, which will was finalised after the conference based on the results.