Regions, cities and communities were encouraged during COP27 to:
1) agree on a clear vision for climate resilience, but also make clear what are the implementation challenges, roadmaps and actionable items that can take further the goals set by the Paris Agreement;
2) prioritize multi-level governance actions and specifically emphasize on the interplay between the local and regional level and
3) raise their voices about the need to act now, build partnerships with key institutions, reach out to strategic partners that are thinking out-of-the-box and engage with bottom-up initiatives that may elevate local climate action.
That said, the Mission for Adaptation to Climate Change and Societal Transformation provides an excellent opportunity to act towards all these objectives!
More than 12 EU-funded Horizon projects with over 150 million EUR of funding have already been granted under the Mission for Adaptation to Climate Change, while, in parallel, numerous academic and non-academic institutions have produced evidence and guidance on the benefits, shortcomings and potential of integrated adaptation planning over the past years. Demand for effective support to regions and communities entering the Mission and engaging in the development and promotion of transformative adaptation pathways becomes more than evident. The overarching goal of the Mission Implementation Platform (upcoming launch in 2023) is to accelerate upscaling of adaptation action at local and regional level and link to implementation in science, business, policy and practice in line with the EUs’ ambitions to address the most important climate hazards by 2030.
These projects and the cities and regions involved, either as partners or as case studies, need to work together, elevate their efforts in peer-to-peer exchange and upscaling, to achieve:
- even higher policy impact across the EU and globally by better implementation of recent or immediately upcoming key policies (e.g., EU Adaptation Strategy, EU Green Deal, EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030, Climate Law, Global Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework) and initiatives (e.g., Green City Accord, Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, Climate Pact, EU Taxonomy, EU Missions on Oceans, Climate Neutrality or Soil Health and Food),
- convince all relevant EU policy sectors (including both public and business-oriented decision-makers and practitioners) that local and regional adaptation actions matter and work for their goals and purposes as well;
- support highly vulnerable and low-capacity regions and communities that, for various reasons, have not yet engaged in large consortia applying for Mission-related projects (REGILIENCE, based on the regional needs assessment carried out, is planning to select 10 highly vulnerable regions in Europe by the end of 2022 and support them in developing their transformative resilience pathways) and, last but not least,
- provide a space for strategic and advocacy work at EU and global level is necessary to ensure adaptation and resilience building opportunities as well as needs are voiced in and worked on by the EC and globally.
In addition, the European Commission explicitly committed – through the publication of the 2021 EU Strategy of Adaptation to Climate Change – to increase financial support to local and regional communities to accelerate the transition from planning to action in climate adaptation. Via the pilot programme “Policy Support Facility”, which runs under the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy – Europe, cities and regions from the 12 most vulnerable members states of the European Union have received access to tailored opportunities such as personalised technical assistance, national workshops and interactive webinars.
Finally, yet as important is the fact that the European Commission has started sending invitations for the first meeting on the Community of Practice of the Mission that will take place on 26 January 2023 in Brussels. This event is addressed to practitioners of regional and local adaptation, and will include Signatories of the Mission Charter, the Friends of the Mission, Mission Board members and national representatives. One of the main objectives of this meeting, is to invite regional and local authorities to share about their main challenges in terms of financing, citizen engagement and access to data.