In the face of increasing pressure on water resources, the incremental adaptation of water management to changing climate conditions will, in many places, not ensure resilience in the future. More systemic and transformational change will be required in the way water is managed, used by various sectors, and valued by society. This need for systemic change, however, can also prompt innovative solutions that bring along multiple benefits. To this end, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, in cooperation with the Portuguese Ministry of Environment and Climate Action and the Slovenian Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, hosted the online conference ‘Climate change and the European water dimension – Enhancing resilience’ on November 4-5, 2020.
This policy paper is based on the results of the conference and provides recommendations for the European Commission and EU Member States on how to increase water-related climate resilience and initiate the transformational change required to ensure resilience in the future. The paper provides input for the current political debate and, in particular, the new EU Adaptation Strategy that was published in early 2021. It also aims to influence targeted EU initiatives to enhance adaptation efforts at EU, Member State and transboundary levels. The paper is intended to be comprehensive in scope rather than propose detailed measures for implementing the policy recommendations. A draft of this paper served as a basis for discussion among conference participants and was finalised after the conference, drawing on key results and discussion points. It builds on a background paper available on the conference website, which analyses in more detail the observed and expected climate change impacts, adaptation measures adopted to date, required action and possible entry points for EU activities.