Climate change impacts primarily manifest in the water cycle. Adapting water management to make it climate-resilient is a key challenge for the EU. This project explored how EU institutions can accelerate efforts to enhancing climate resilience of Europe’s water resources in an attempt to inform the new EU Adaptation Strategy published in early 2021 among other relevant policy instruments.
The impact of climate change on water resources is becoming visible in many places. Longer and more intense droughts, floods and storm surges affect inland waters and coastal regions in a number of ways. Changing rainfall patterns, and the deterioration of water quality have far-reaching consequences for human water security and the health of ecosystems. To lower these climate-related water risks in the future, it will be vital to ramp up adaptation interventions across water-dependent sectors, many of which involve that we use water resources more sustainably than we do today.
Making social, economic and environmental systems more resilient will require fundamental changes in economic practices and lifestyle.
Former Minister Svenja Schulze, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.
What were the objectives of the project?
Do EU policies recognize the fundamental role sustainable water management plays for achieving climate resilience? Are current policy objectives ambitious enough to conjure the transformative change needed to cope with the magnitude of future water risks? And how can we ensure that the implementation of adaptation efforts in the EU Member States keeps pace with or stays ahead of climate change? Hosted by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and in collaboration with the Portuguese Ministry of Environment and Climate Action and the Slovenian Ministry for Environment and Spatial Planning, as a joint initiative of the three subsequent EU Council Presidencies, the project addressed these questions by pursuing three main objectives:
Discuss appropriate measures and policy instruments to achieve resilience towards climate change.
Explore policy recommendations for EU activities to enhance adaptation efforts at EU, Member States’ and transboundary level.
Provide input to the development of the new EU adaptation strategy and other relevant EU policy processes and instruments.
adelphi led the project and the development of a policy and background paper, which are based on the discussions at a conference, consultations with a steering group, and expert interviews.
Recommendations for EU and international policy instruments and processes
The resulting policy paper includes recommendations for three different levels of policy and decision-making, covering the overall topics of:
Mainstreaming water-related climate resilience into EU policy and international frameworks through increasing coherence and ambition across relevant EU policies, strategies, and initiatives and by leveraging synergies across international frameworks for climate action, disaster risk reduction and sustainable development.
Highlighting water-relevant issues in the new EU Adaptation Strategy, especially in cross-cutting topics such as appropriate adaptation financing for water-related climate resilience, improved availability of water-relevant data and climate services, cross-border and international cooperation
Supporting sustainable water management as a key building block for climate resilience in EU Member States by promoting a fundamental change in how water is used and valued, and supporting transformational change through cross-sectoral coordination, stakeholder participation and awareness-raising.
Policy Paper: Climate change and the European water dimension - Enhancing resilience.
The participation of several hundred scientists and practitioners from different fields and disciplines working on climate change and water in the conference created an important platform for raising attention for the topic and advancing the scientific discourse surrounding it.
Close collaboration with key experts and policy makers ensured that the policy outcomes are practical and scientifically sound and could make inroads into the new EU Adaptation Strategy and other targeted policy processes.
The involvement of high-level representatives from the Portuguese and Slovenian EU Council presidencies enabled to sustain momentum for the topic and conference outcomes beyond the duration of the project.