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The alignment of National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRP) with the National Adaptation Strategies and Plans (NAS/NAP) among the Member States

In September 2023, the REGILIENCE project issued a report shedding light on areas where improvements can be made in the funding and prioritisation of climate resilience efforts within National Recovery Resilience Plan (NRRP). The report, titled Lessons learnt and insights for the funding of climate resilience in national and regional adaptation plans from the European budget, explores EU Member State’s (MS) policy coherence regarding climate adaptation with specific focus on actions and priorities included in NRRP, assessing if and by how much these diverge from those outlined in the previously drafted National Adaptation Strategies and Plans (NAS/NAP).

The report describes interesting findings: some EU MS fully integrate adaptation measures as part of their national mitigation packages and leverage synergies into their strategies. The above report brings the example of the Ecological map of the City of Zagreb (Ekokarta Zagreba), as both a spatial-temporal database and an operational tool providing city offices with insights on environmental factors to functionally manage the citizens’ health and working environment. However, in some others, there is room for further alignment and coordination in funding disbursement from national to regional levels. Based on the REGILIENCE report findings, this is the case for adaptation measures in Central Macedonia, where regional funds actively support the adoption of Nature-based solutions in urban buildings, where measures are not financed by the NRRP funds.

Additionally, the report shows that progress is being made with 15 out of 27 MS having met their drafted milestones and targets for implementing adaptation measures and investments. This is also confirmed by the Recovery and Resilience Fund annual report published in July 2023.

The ongoing process of drafting adaptation measures presents an opportunity for strengthening policy coherence within Member States, and across.

The European Energy Agency (EEA) underscores in its Assessing the costs and benefits of climate change adaptation briefing that an assessment of the costs of adaptive measures as well as current and planned adaptation spending at the national level, is exceptionally rare. After the recent global pandemic, integrating adaptation measures into corresponding ministry budgets has become more and more relevant. However, previous NAS/NAP reporting sessions have highlighted areas where NAS and/or NAP in most MS lack specified financing sources or dedicated budgets for implementation. Going into more detail, several countries describe challenges with the under-developed monitoring, reporting, and evaluation (MRE) mechanisms for tracking implementation, particularly funding. 

Similar efforts to track adaptation

Nevertheless, monitoring and evaluation frameworks for tracking adaptation progress are either being developed or recently implemented across most MS.
This is exemplified in some cases, which are reported here:

  • The Portuguese Climate Law: amended in 2021, it now includes provisions for adaptation, a climate action portal, municipal and regional plans, sectoral adaptation plans, a stronger monitoring mechanism, legislative impact assessment, climate risk integration, and an obligation to review the NAS every ten years.
  • The Austrian KLAR! (Climate Change Adaptation Model Regions for Austria) Programme: funded by the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund and offers a process-oriented approach for municipalities to raise awareness for climate change adaptation and implement concrete actions on regional level.

A variety of approaches to reporting adaptation spending per sector per country is available under the Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action (1999/2018). The Regulation sets the common rules for planning, reporting and monitoring. It also contains information on national adaptation budgets, EU programmes, investments , while mandating MS to comply with reporting obligations on National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs), covering ten-year periods.

Call for long-term approaches

The REGILIENCE report claims that there has been significant progress in reporting adaptation measures and objectives, there is room for improvement in aligning policy coherence and clarity of objectives with Energy Union targets. This is confirmed by a recent report published by the EU scientific advisory board on Climate Change, which suggests the importance of aligning EU policies with the phase-out of fossil fuels and furthering EU climate ambitions.

This suggests the need for more inclusive approaches and adjustments to the overall climate action framework, as well as a more comprehensive and integrated approach to policy formulation, where MS can adhere to a standardised set of criteria and guidelines, fostering improved progress for all stakeholders involved.

Once again, this highlights a crucial aspect within the current regulatory landscape, where Member States are challenged by the imperative to synchronise their adaptation measures with broader EU climate ambitions, revealing areas where policy objectives and stakeholder involvement at the regional level need to be improved. But all this also offers a chance to strengthen cooperation and alignment.

There is a momentum to advancing climate resilience efforts and continued collaboration as well as shared learning among EU nations. To address the above challenges, the Integrated reporting on national adaptation actions, financial and technology support on GovReg Article 19 (Annex VIII) offers valuable insights and lessons learnt providing an opportunity for enhanced collaboration and knowledge sharing among DG CLIMA, the EEA, and all EU MS and EEA member countries. The exchange of experiences particularly with regards to the first reporting on Article 17 can significantly contribute to the effective implementation of adaptation actions throughout Europe and foster a deeper understanding of the importance of adaptation reporting. Furthermore, there is a need to regularly update each country’s NAS/NAP information on climate hazards to ensure alignment with current hazards, risks, and losses.

Harnessing the momentum

In this regard, recent discussions on the benefits of Multi-level Governance (MLG) within the LIFE NECPlatform project highlight the importance of dialogue as an integral part of National Energy and Climate Plans (NECP), as mandated in Article 11 of the Regulation. With progress being made on multi-level dialogues and with several NAS/NAP undergoing revision or renewal, it is crucial to seize the opportunity to improve MRE mechanisms and engage more local and regional stakeholders. Their involvement can significantly contribute to enhancing policy coherence in the development and implementation of adaptation measures across Europe.

An overview of the objectives and main findings of the REGILIENCE report at the core of this article can be found at this link.

You can download the opinion article here.