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The European Environmental Agency Reports on Web-based Climate Change Information Platforms

Wednesday, 03 June 2015
On 12th May 2015 the European Environment Agency published its new technical report, called "Overview of climate change adaptation platforms in Europe"* which provides an overview of existing information platforms across European countries.

As adaptation policy progresses in Europe, it is increasingly important that people have access to relevant and high-quality information. This information can be used to support the development and implementation of national and transnational adaptation strategies and plans as well as the implementation of the EU Adaptation Strategy**. A broad range of users consider web-based climate change adaptation platforms an effective means of collecting, assimilating and communicating relevant evidence, experience and knowledge to interested stakeholders including policymakers, practitioners and the general public.

Speaking at the second European Climate Change Adaptation Conference (ECCA), EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx said, 'Effective adaptation to climate change requires close cooperation between various stakeholders. Cities and businesses are implementing innovative solutions to adapt to climate change while also enhancing quality of life and protecting ecosystems', while he added 'There is already a wealth of knowledge and experience available that should be shared, which can help all stakeholders to connect, be inspired and learn from each other. I believe new research programmes in the EU can further facilitate the co-creation of the knowledge base needed.'

In recent years, many European countries have established information platforms on climate change adaptation. Currently, there are 14 national adaptation platforms across EEA member countries (Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom) and two transnational platforms (the Alpine region and the Pyrenees). These are complemented by Climate-ADAPT – the European Climate Change Adaptation platform managed and maintained by the EEA in collaboration with the European Commission. In addition to country and European information, Climate-ADAPT also hosts a section on the Baltic Sea region***. Of the 14 national adaptation platforms, seven are directly linked to the implementation of a national adaptation strategy or action plan.

Identifying and exploring challenges, reflections and lessons learned that are significant for platform developers and operators, the report group them into seven issues:(1) funding and sustaining a platform; (2) understanding, communicating and engaging with users; (3) identifying relevant knowledge and information; (4) presenting relevant knowledge and information; (5) design, technical and structural elements of a platform; (6) linking across sectors, scales and platforms, and (7) monitoring, evaluating and improving a platform.

Interestingly, the report shows that the adaptation platform landscape in Europe is dynamic, and that the nature of the platforms varies. Depending on the remits, target audience(s) and budget, there are differences in the scope, aims and means of delivery of platforms. Also, political and socio-economic context and adaptation experiences determine the challenges and opportunities addressed by each platform.
Among the key findings of the report, the following are included: the development of strategic planning of adaptation platforms, the effective user engagement in all phases of a platform's development, the identifying and maintaining relevant knowledge and information, and the taking into account into account of the different levels of adaptation knowledge and capabilities of their intended users.

The EEA report also analyses links between adaptation platforms and climate services and disaster risk reduction platforms. Adaptation measures cover in general long-term and gradual impacts of climate change (e.g. sea level rise) as well as disasters linked to extreme weather events intensified by climate change (e.g. flooding). A closer collaboration between climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction platforms can boost the use of available knowledge and contribute to reduce vulnerability.

By end of 2015, the EEA will publish a technical report that will describe how Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluation (MRE) of adaptation action can inform policymaking and facilitate shared learning on national-level MRE approaches across member countries. The technical report will also include information on how web-based adaptation platforms are included in MRE schemes.

Further development and improvement of the content, functionalities and user-friendliness of Climate-ADAPT is planned in the coming years. This will be carried out by the EEA, in close collaboration with the Directorate‑General (DG) for Climate Action, by collecting and analyzing user feedback. There is also a need to further discuss and clarify the complementarity of Climate‑ADAPT to, and consistency with, national and other adaptation platforms and services. The review of the EU Adaptation Strategy in 2017 will be an important opportunity to take stock of the overall scope, content and use of Climate-ADAPT.

*To access the full report, see:
** The Commission adopted an EU adaptation strategy in April 2013 which has been welcomed by the Member States. Complementing the activities of Member States, the strategy supports action by promoting greater coordination and information-sharing between Member States, and by ensuring that adaptation considerations are addressed in all relevant EU policies.
*** The European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT) aims to support Europe in adapting to climate change. It is an initiative of the European Commission and helps users to access and share information on: Expected climate change in Europe; Current and future vulnerability of regions and sectors; National and transnational adaptation strategies; Adaptation case studies and potential adaptation options; Tools that support adaptation planning.

Source: European Environment Agency (EEA)
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