3.1 Key messages

The following points are included here to highlight key messages resulting from the analysis.

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  • The adaptation platform landscape in Europe is dynamic and varied as the number and scope of such platforms are increasing. There are a variety of adaptation platforms operating within Europe with remits for providing climate adaptation services at the national level (Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom). At the transnational level there are the Alpine Region and Pyrenees platforms, as well as Climate-ADAPT at the European level. These different platforms have varied histories and tenures. They have also policy contexts that are reflected in the scope of services provided and their respective operational and business models.

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  • Since adaptation platforms are a means of assisting decision makers in the different steps of the adaptation policy cycle, they are primarily linked to the preparation, implementation and evaluation of adaptation strategies and plans. Seven out of the 14 national adaptation platforms in place in EEA member countries are directly linked to the launch or implementation of the national adaptation strategy or action plan (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Spain, and Switzerland). It should be noted that only few platforms (United Kingdom, Austria, Denmark, France, Norway, Sweden and Germany) have more than three years of operating experience.

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  • As a number of the platforms are directly linked to the implementation of national or EU adaptation strategies and plans, it is important that the support they provide remains current and anticipates the needs of those developing and implementing those strategies and plans. This requirement includes being able to meet the needs of users as their efforts move through the adaptation policy cycle – from primarily information to increase awareness and understand the problem, to vulnerability and risk assessment, to adaptation options identification and assessment and to monitoring and evaluating actions. This also requires that information, knowledge and guidance (including case studies) provided should be evaluated and updated based on the evolving science and practices.

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  • The adaptation platforms in Europe are not homogeneous in terms of the nature and scope of remit, roles and services provided, nor in terms of their stage of development and development pathways. This precludes the forming of any general guiding framework. A number of challenges, and reflections and lessons learnt have been identified by platform owners, developers and managers. There is a desire to share these as a basis for enhancing the quality and utility of the platforms and the services they provide. It is, however, necessary when interpreting these challenges, and reflections and lessons learnt to another platform to take into account the particular situation, concerns and the needs and capacities of their respective host institutions and target audiences. 

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  • An overall strategic plan that defines the current direction and scope of a platform and proposed developments in the short and longer-term is fundamental. This can be used as a basis for communicating and engaging users, contributors and collaborators. However, such a strategy can also be used to effectively configure resources and competencies. It can also ensure that development remains appropriate and continues to be able to fulfil users’ expectations and needs over time.

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  • It is important that platform responsible organisations effectively engage users in all phases of the platform development from design and implementation to maintenance. Multiple engagement mechanisms may be useful, however, prior to adopting they should be tailored to specific phases of the platform’s stage of development and to the targeted user group.

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  • Updating the platforms requires balancing three aspects; to select the information most relevant for decision making on adaptation; to present the most up-to-date scientific knowledge on adaptation; and to consider the available human and IT resources, including those of the intended users. Defining selection criteria for a platform itself as a whole as well as for different sections helps to identify the relevant information, effectively maintain a platform according to the needs and available resources.  Quality control and assessment schemes are very helpful to ensure the quality and reliability of the information provided for users and to inform the maintenance and updating processes.

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  • The information presented on adaptation platforms has to consider different levels of adaptation knowledge and IT capabilities of users. As the analysis shows that there are different approaches for presenting the information. The options range from tailor-made sections for different types of users such as citizen, municipalities, businesses (e.g., Denmark); to a hierarchical approach of non-technical language on the landing page to technical information in subpages (e.g., Germany). The relevance and usability of the platform is critical to successful uptake of the information presented.

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  • Where adaptation platforms have been launched as stand-alone platforms (e. g. the UKCIP platform) or as part of governmental websites (e. g. Switzerland) there is a development going on towards the integration of adaptation platforms into governmental websites (e.g., Germany, UK). This implies challenges such as the need to cope with limitations due to website design standards, but offers the opportunity of improved links to other policy fields. Due to the specific needs of regional and local users to exchange information and experience as well as to enhance user involvement interactive features are being used (e.g., Spain, Hungary, C3 alps) and are being increasingly integrated into the adaptation platforms (e. g., France, Climate-ADAPT). The Workflows, the respective roles and permission schemes for internal and external providers of a platform should be designed in the most practical and sustainable way to ensure a feasible platform maintenance.

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  • Monitoring and evaluating the take-up of the services available and use of the platform itself are necessary tasks that relate to all aspects of the platform. This includes its role in knowledge exchange and mobilisation for the adaptation policy, planning and implementation, the information that appears in it and its design and structure. The value added by the platform needs to be considered and assessed from various perspectives.  Users and contributors perspectives should be considered, as well as the policy, economic, and institutional environments in which it operates. Some national platforms (e.g., Finland, Germany, UKCIP in the UK) have evaluated aspects of their platform and adjusted it or plan adjustments according to the evaluation, including the evolving needs of the adaptation policy.

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  • Establishing links across sectors, scales and platforms is important for the provision of relevant and high quality information. Furthermore, promoting a two-way sharing and exchange of knowledge between users, platform developers, researchers, other adaptation platforms, policy fields like Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and governance levels from local to international is recognised as a successful way of collaborating. The principles that are at the core of developing this collaboration are: 1) need to focus on improving the services available on the platform to support decision-making; 2) need to understand and articulate expectations and mutual benefits of the cooperation as well as the respective roles and, responsibilities; and 3) need for sustained and informed engagement at the necessary levels involving both those funding and delivering the platforms.

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  • Effective collaborations between those providing climate service, adaptation platforms and DRR platforms are likely to result in several benefits. These are particularly acute in the area of addressing climatological extremes, reducing vulnerability and enhancing resilience. Efforts have been undertaken towards enhancing these types of collaborations at both the national and European levels and have originated from within the climate adaptation, DRR and climate service communities. There are opportunities to facilitate these collaborations (e.g., existing institutional relationships at the national and EU levels, initiatives within Horizon 2020, and supportive networks and discussions within different fora), which needs to be continued and supported.

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  • There are as yet limited examples of emerging relationships among these different platforms. But evidence does suggest that critical to their success is that the collaborating platforms are engaged for their mutual benefit and the benefit of their respective users. In addition, it also suggests that it should consider the different institutional relationships, funding and business models, and perceived remits and scope of services provided and users targeted. In practice the collaboration between these platforms can range from simple linking reflecting the different core responsibilities of the respective platforms to deeper integration of the information and knowledge provided.

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