Forging a climate-resilient Europe: a welcome strategy from the EU

This week, on the 24 February 2021, the EU Commission presented a Communication Forging a climate-resilient Europe – the new EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change (COM (2021) 82 final). This is a cause for delight here at the CBSS as we – together with our Baltic Sea Region colleagues in various formats and constellations – have long argued for a number of policy changes that now seem to have been taken up by the EU, as evidenced by the communication.

In the Policy recommendations on mainstreaming climate into EU’s 2021-2027 budget, one of the outputs of the Interreg Baltic Sea Programme co-financed CAMS Platform, was a recommendation to mainstream climate change mitigation and adaptation into horizontal themes like information society and digitalization, as well as regional development and governance in order to secure coherence of planned measures there with climate goals.

The new EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change states that

“The digital transformation is critical to achieving the Green Deal adaptation objectives”

and furthermore that

“Policy coherence must systematically take into account adaptation to avoid inadvertently undermining it. Whenever relevant, EU and Member State policymaking should apply the following policy coherence principles: ensure that regulation and funding take into account disaster risk to avoid creating new exposure; reduce existing risk by building up resilience, prevention and preparedness; manage residual risk. These principles should be integrated, for example, in calls for tender and selection criteria for EU-funded projects as well as taken into due account when designing policies more generally.”

One of the recommendations of the ongoing CBSS Climate Dialogues, led by our Policy Officer Valdur Lahtvee, stressed the importance of strengthening local governments to build climate change resilience as the effect of the climate crisis will be mostly felt by local communities. This is why the Commission’s commitment to support planning and implementation of local adaptation through a facility under the EU Covenant of Mayors comes as such a welcome initiative.

Some of our work on climate was through coordinating the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region’s (EUSBSR) Horizontal Action Climate from 2015 to 2020. From 2021 all 14 Policy Areas will include climate questions into their area of expertise and this is what we have done at the CBSS, by including climate and sustainability topics into all three of our long-term priorities. We will continue to run and promote Baltic Sea Region Climate Policy Dialogue and support our colleagues and stakeholders’ efforts in the Region.