On 18 September Regions4 participated at the event “Local adaptation to climate change: challenges and opportunities for Local and Regional Authorities” organised by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR).

Meant as a kick-off to more in-depth discussions around climate change adaptation in the future the CoR gathered different stakeholders, such as regional and local authorities, the European Environment Agency, different EU Commission Directorate-Generals and other EU institutions, as well as networks such as the Covenant of Mayors, Comité 21 and Regions4. Two panels and one roundtable discussed challenges and opportunities for local adaptation, how to finance adaptation, and the way forward from a local perspective.

Mr. Loïg CHESNAIS-GIRARD, President of Brittany Region. Source: CoR.

In her opening speech Benedetta Brighenti, CoR Rapporteur of the Covenant of Mayors, highlighted the difficulties of local authorities to address climate change, especially with regards to financial means and the identification of projects to help to adapt to climate change. Mr Loïg Chesnais-Girard, President of Brittany Region, then explained the impact that climate change has and will have on his region and underlined the importance of involving all actors in climate action. He further described the participatory process carried out by his government in order to draft legislation and define key topics to be dealt with in the future. He stated that: “The future cannot be managed by a single region. We need to all work together, including all government levels”.

In this regard, Regions4 presented in the panel on “Challenges and opportunities in local adaptation” its experience within the RegionsAdapt initiative, the first global initiative to inspire regional governments to take concrete actions, cooperate and report efforts on climate change adaptation. The accomplishments of RegionsAdapt’s European members were discussed, including the fulfilment of the initiative’s commitments, how European regions are already addressing most of the risks they are facing with regards to climate change, and how they treat climate change not only as an environmental issue but as a societal one, e.g. by addressing health risks associated with climate change.

Ms. Sara Kupka, Climate Change Policy Officer, Regions4. Source: CoR.

Furthermore, the important role of regional governments in addressing the challenge of adaptation was highlighted, including the valuable support they give to their local counterparts, such as financial and technical support, incorporation of local realities in regional strategies, as well as the support given for the development and implementation of local climate plans. The same panel saw presentations on the Covenant of Mayors’ support for local adaptation, insights from the urban adaptation partnership, as well as the work of the Comité 21 with regards to involving multiple stakeholders on the topic of adaptation. 

The panel on financing adaptation highlighted the role of sustainable finance and insurance in funding adaptation, the EU funding mechanisms of the LIFE programme and HORIZON2020, the work of the DG RTD, as well as how the European Investment Bank supports adaptation funding. Last, local authorities presented their vision on adaptation and how the way forward will look like.

More information on the work of the Committee of the Regions on climate change, including regularly published opinions on climate issues and how regions can contribute to them, can be found here.