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Adaptation in Spain and EU

Adaptation in Europe

In April 2013, the European Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change was adopted in the European Union, laying the foundations and principles of a common policy on adaptation, until March 2021, when a new European Climate Change Adaptation Strategy has been adopted, with the main objective of building a climate-resilient Europe.

The 2013 Strategy defined three key objectives:

  1. Promote climate change adaptation actions in Member States and provide funds to help them develop their adaptation capacities and to adopt measures. It also supports adaptation in cities through the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy initiative.
  2. Promote adaptation in key vulnerable sectors such as agriculture, fisheries or cohesion policy, ensuring that European infrastructures are more resilient and promoting the use of insurance against catastrophes, of both, natural and of human origin.
  3. Facilitate informed decision-making for all involved stakeholders through the increase of research programs and the collection and exchange of information on climate change adaptation through the European platform for adaptation to climate change as a 'one-stop shop' (Climate- Adapt).

The new Climate Change Adaptation Strategy aims to prepare the EU-27 for the inevitable effects of climate change and to reduce vulnerability to extreme events such as heat waves, droughts and floods. Building on the previous European Climate Change Adaptation Strategy of 2013, the aim of the new strategy is to move from understanding risks to developing solutions and from planning to implementing measures to advance the goal of a climate-neutral Europe by 2050 that is adapted and resilient to climate change, in line with the Paris Agreement and the European Climate Law.

The new European guidelines aim to:

  • Make adaptation to climate change smarter, faster and more systemic.
  • To this end, the aim is to have reliable data with which the States can fully understand present and future risks and use them as a basis for decision-making and action planning.
  • Intensify collaboration with all the sectors involved, such as agriculture, transport and insurance.
  • Acting on the territory through actions adapted to each terrain, with a special emphasis on nature-based solutions.

In short, the aim is to speed up the programming and implementation of adaptation measures in the Member States.

A growing number of member countries of the European Union have adopted a national adaptation strategy and several of them have developed and are implementing action plans.

Adaptation in Spain

As a result of its high vulnerability, impact assessment and the adoption of measures to adapt to climate change in Spain is a priority objective.

Spain was one of the first European countries to develop an adaptation policy, materialized in 2006 with the approval of the National Climate Change Plan Adaptation (PNACC) and as a response to the Preliminary Evaluation of the Impacts in Spain by Effect of the Climate Change made in 2005.

The PNACC has since been developed through three Work Programmes (starting in 2006, 2009 and 2013 respectively), being closely aligned with the main instruments and elements adopted in the European context.

The new National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (PNACC) 2021-2030 is currently the basic planning instrument to promote coordinated action against the effects of climate change in Spain. Its main objective is to avoid or reduce present and future damage from climate change and to build a more resilient economy and society. The PNACC 2021-2030 has been the result of a collective process of analysis, reflection and public participation. The Public Participation Report is available here.

The Plan constitutes the basic planning instrument to promote coordinated and coherent action in the face of the effects of climate change in Spain. Within the framework of the PNACC, strategic objectives are established and a system of indicators of impacts and adaptation to climate change is defined, as well as the elaboration of risk reports. It is a new governance based on the lessons learned from Spain's first National Adaptation Plan.

This new Plan is part of the strategic framework on energy and climate, a set of instruments, including the draft Law on Climate Change and Energy Transition, the Long-term Strategy for a modern, competitive and climate-neutral economy in 2050, the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030 and the Just Transition Strategy.

At the same time, the role of the Spanish Office of Climate Change is to promote the generation of data, tools and information relevant to the development of each impact assessment and facilitate participatory processes.

However, adapting to climate change in our country is a very complex area of ​​work, in which the public and private dimension converge, where there are competencies, responsibilities and the need for coordination at all administrative levels - local, regional, national and European- and where many sectors and agents interact.

Regional adaptation

The Autonomous Communities have developed and maintain their own strategic frameworks, plans and/or programs in terms of adaptation to climate change. The Platform, AdapteCCa, provides the entry point to know in depth the frameworks and actions that are being developed at the regional level.

On the other hand, the Working Group on Impacts and Adaptation (GTIA), created by the Commission for the Coordination of Climate Change Policies in 2007, brings together technicians and officials of the General State Administration and the Autonomous Communities in adaptation matters.

The GTIA has the general objective of coordinating the development of strategic frameworks and adaptation actions that are carried out at the regional and central levels, and meets regularly to exchange information and monitor progress and results of projects and initiatives which are developed under the framework of the PNACC and the adaptation planning frameworks of each Autonomous Community.

Local adaptation

Several Spanish cities have carried out their own analysis of impacts and vulnerability at the local scale and a growing number of municipalities have their own strategies or plans for climate change, which contain objectives and actions in terms of adaptation.

At the national level, there is also since 2006, the Spanish Network of Cities for Climate that brings together cities and towns committed to sustainable development and climate protection. Its objective is to be a technical support instrument for Spanish local governments, providing them with tools that allow them to achieve a sustainable development model, while at the same time serve as a forum in which to exchange knowledge and experiences on the field.

Other adaptation initiatives

There are also a multitude of different agents developing activity in the climate change impatc assesment in different sectors and systems, generating and providing knowledge. More specifically:

Research teams and experts from different agencies, universities and institutions.
Professionals and entities of the private sector.
NGOs and non-profit entities.