1.1 Introduction

1.1.1 Background

Many national governments and the EU have supported the development and delivery of climate change adaptation web-based platforms, in particular as a means of supporting developing and implementing respective adaptation plans and strategies. Web-based climate change adaptation platforms are considered an important means of sharing evidence, experience and knowledge of the various actors and stakeholders engaged in adaptation. The information, data and guidance collected, assimilated and shared through these platforms are intended to enhance the awareness of the need for adaptation and address knowledge and capacity gaps both in the context of enabling action.

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What is being shared by these web-based platforms is somewhat variable, but often includes: policy actions at the transnational, national, and sub-national levels, scientific basis, research results, guidance, decision-support tools, and experiences from practice and implemented adaptation measures (case studies). However, depending on their respective remits, target audience(s), budget and aims, the scope and content that is made available and the means of delivery can vary. These differences are to a degree reflective of the different platform stakeholders (funders and operating agencies) and the range of interests, needs and capacities of the target audiences (e.g. policymakers, sectoral organisations, practitioners, researchers and businesses).

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Many of the existing adaptation platforms see their primary aim as being a one-stop repository of information, data and knowledge that is needed to support those preparing for and adapting to the consequences of climate change. The information, data and knowledge would otherwise be distributed across different agencies, institutions and organizations. Their existence also reflects the need for such a one-stop repository due to the cross-sector nature of the risks and responses and the need to avoid duplicative and conflicting information from multiple potentially disjointed sources.

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There are a number of countries within Europe that do not have a national adaptation platform (often attributed to lack of resources, capacities, or financial resources). Some of these are considering the possibilities and see this as a way of addressing the fragmentation of relevant information and support that can impede awareness and limit action.

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In addition to the different national adaptation platforms, there are platforms operating at a trans- national level, and the European Climate Adaptation Platform at European level (Climate-ADAPT[1]). The existence of these platforms operating at different scales provides both opportunities and challenges from the perspective of the platform managers themselves. From a user’s perspective, the different services can appear conflicting, leading to confusion and frustration, because it is unclear where to go for the required information[2].

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Furthermore adaptation platforms should also be considered in the broader context of existing and emerging climate change services and similar activities supporting disaster risk management. Both are being delivered by web-based platforms or portals and platforms. These additional platforms have emerged and can be linked to national, EU and global policies and other developments. These developments and the opportunities and challenges of establishing links between these platforms and climate change adaptation platforms are also explored in this report.

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Since the publication by the European Commission of the White Paper “Adapting to climate change: Towards a framework for action” in 2009 it was clear that it was necessary to improve the knowledge base of adaptation at EU level. By then the existing information on climate change impacts and vulnerability and on the costs and benefits of adaptation in Europe remained scarce and fragmented and not well shared, and more spatially detailed information was needed to develop adaptation strategies.

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As a response, the European Commission developed from 2010 and launched in 2012 the web-based platform Climate-ADAPT. In order to improve the European preparedness and capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change at local, regional, national and EU levels, the European Commission published in 2013 the EU Adaptation Strategy[3]. This Strategy aims to: 1) encourage and support action on adaptation by EU Member States; 2) foster the knowledge base through EU funded research in support to better informed decision-making; 3) making key EU economic and policy sectors more resilient to the impacts of climate change. The strategy recognized the importance to further develop Climate-ADAPT as the ‘one-stop-shop’ for adaptation information in Europe. Furthermore, its interaction with other relevant platforms, including national and local adaptation portals and the EU funded Copernicus climate change service should be enhanced.

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By 2015 there has been progress in the development of the knowledge base, although the level of preparedness to climate change still varies across Europe. While 21 EEA member countries have an adopted National Adaptation Strategy and 12 have developed a national adaptation plan (NAP), others are still in the starting phase of the adaptation policy process[4].

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In order to support the development and implementation of national strategies and plans in all EU Member States, Climate-ADAPT was designed to assist at all steps of the adaptation policy cycle. This includes the assessment of risks and vulnerabilities, the identification and assessment of adaptation options, the implementation of adaptation measures and the monitoring and evaluation of the adaptation process. The information presented is also expected to serve the European and transnational levels since the EU aims to integrate adaptation in EU policies, to promote adaptation action covering the whole EU territory and to effectively fill knowledge gaps. Furthermore during 2014 the focus of Climate-ADAPT on adaptation in cities increased, and from 2015 onwards Climate-ADAPT will include information currently collected and presented by the Mayors Adapt initiative[5].

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Climate-ADAPT is hosted by the EEA. It helps users to access and share information on observed expected climate change in Europe; current and future vulnerability of regions and sectors; national and transnational adaptation strategies; potential adaptation options and case studies on implemented adaptation actions; tools that support adaptation planning; relevant EU policy frameworks and processes and a searchable data base on adaptation relevant knowledge.

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The key objectives of Climate-ADAPT are: (a) to facilitate the collection, sharing and use of information on climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation in Europe to build a consistent and updated knowledge base; (b) to assist the effective uptake of the relevant knowledge by decision makers; and (c) to contribute to a greater level of coordination among sectors and institutional levels.

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In order to fulfil the different needs at all governance levels the development of Climate-ADAPT follows among others the following key principles:

  • it should facilitate a quick and straightforward access to the most relevant sources of adaptation information in Europe;
  • it should provide mostly information on adaptation resources that are relevant at EU level and be complementary to the roles and content of national and other knowledge platforms in the EU;
  • it is a long-term knowledge infrastructure to be developed step by step responsive to the user´s needs and priorities and according to the available resources.

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According to these principles the content and functionalities available within Climate-ADAPT at the moment will be further developed over the time according to the progress in the adaptation process.

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One element of Climate-ADAPT is the updating of information on mainstreaming of adaptation in EU policies and the inclusion of studies and assessments funded by DG CLIMA on various topics[6]. Furthermore the EEA is publishing and updating a range of indicators on climate change impacts and vulnerability, and various assessment reports that have been or will be published on Climate-ADAPT. These include an impact and vulnerability report[7] (2012, update planned for 2016), an assessment reports on adaptation in the urban sector[8] (2012, update planned for 2016), a report on adaptation in the transport sector[9] and the report on national adaptation policy processes in Europe[10]. In addition, a technical report on monitoring and evaluation of national adaptation policies will be published by end of 2015.

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Since the Member states are moving forward in the adaptation process, information to be presented on Climate-ADAPT on national adaptation strategies and actions will increase and specifically information on monitoring and evaluation will become more relevant in the future.

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It should be noted that as the 2013 EU strategy on adaptation will be reviewed in 2017, this also means that Climate-ADAPT will be reviewed in the same period.

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1.1.2 Scope and purpose of the report

The purpose of this report is to support the development and delivery of climate change adaptation platforms across Europe, hereafter also referred to as ‘adaptation platforms’ or ‘platforms’.

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The report is aimed at supporting European decision makers, in particular at national and transnational levels, by providing an overview on the state of play of adaptation platforms in Europe and an opportunity to learn from, and be inspired by existing practices. Platforms at sub-national level as well as the diversity of platforms related to adaptation at national levels are not covered in the report. It also provides information on the nature and scope of links between adaptation services going beyond web-based adaptation platforms, and climate services and disaster risk management services. The information provided covers the status and drivers for these links, how respective roles can be defined and relationships established, and how to enhance the quality of services available.

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The report is based on information discussed with experts involved with management of a wide range of national and other adaptation platforms, at various expert meetings and workshops during 2013 and 2014 (see 1.3). In 2014 the European Center European Topic Centre on Climate Change impacts, vulnerability and Adaptation (ETC CCA) prepared a Technical paper including information from these meetings and in addition information collected from telephone interviews with platform managers. This report is largely based on that ETC CCA Technical paper.

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