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Adapting to extremes: Key insights for bridging CCA and DRR in the European Green Deal

Figure 2: Key boundary partners for bridging CCA and DRR in Europe. In-degree connections refer to the number of linkages originated by a partner, while degree centrality refers to the total number of linkages. Actors in the upper right-hand quadrant are the best-connected actors in the European CCA and DRR landscape.


Climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) are fundamentally similar enterprises in that they both include reducing the negative impacts of extreme events. Yet, the policy communities engaged in each tend to be distinct – key decision-makers sit in different ministries or agencies, and the two communities rely on separate sources of information, funds and use incompatible technical language.

Since 2015, the PLAtform for Climate Adaptation and Risk reDuction (PLACARD) project has worked with technical experts and decision-makers across Europe to understand and promote the benefits of connecting the CCA and DRR communities, and to develop tools and approaches to facilitate further collaboration. Today, as Europe weighs options for promoting a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and considers how to make this recovery compatible with the European Green Deal, it is more critical than ever that our foremost ambition is to build resilient societies and systems.

This policy brief presents key insights from PLACARD for bridging CCA and DRR. We highlight three areas for action to improve cooperation, and provide recommendations for the European Green Deal.

Three areas for action to improve CCA and DRR coordination

The following section provides key insights to three areas for action to improve CCA and DRR coordination.

1. Improve communication and harmonise language:

  • Be more aware and transparent in the use of language, recognising when key terms are being used differently and harmonising concepts to strengthen communication.
  • Invest in knowledge management infrastructure to intelligently connect data, content and users, to put information in context and lead readers to relevant resources.
  • Consider different audiences and tailor communications strategies to engage and mobilise these communities, in particular by using storytelling approaches to make communications more understandable, legitimate and compelling.

2. Connect actors and look forward

  • Convene events and dialogues to bring together CCA and DRR professionals, focused on important topics or emerging issues for both communities.
  • Involve boundary partners to help bridge the divide between actors and translate concepts across contexts.
  • Invest in facilitation to engage participants, including using foresight techniques to develop future-oriented and policy-relevant risk assessments, drawing on CCA and DRR expertise.

3. Build structures for cooperation

  • Strengthen existing institutions by safeguarding sound governance, ensuring effective financing, seizing opportunities for cooperation, sharing new forms of communication, and enhancing knowledge management.
  • Create new initiatives or bodies with a specific mandate for convening stakeholders and acting as a boundary partner between the CCA and DRR communities.
  • Make structural changes to risk governance approaches, aligning relevant agendas and sharing risk ownership across sectors and scales.

A resilient European Green Deal

In the midst of a once-in-a-generation pandemic, and on the cusp of an urgent societal transformation to slow climate change and combat its worst effects, it is more critical than ever for Europe to invest in building resilience through both CCA and DRR. As lawmakers proceed with preparations for implementing the European Green Deal, including in the context of responses to COVID-19, we recommend:

1. Linking responses and post-COVID-19 stimuli investments to actions that build resilience in the context of climate change and other societal challenges, including contributing to the European Green Deal.

2. Synchronising targets, priorities and areas for action from the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction within the European Green Deal, maintaining a balance between mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change.

3. Strengthening the current EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change and the Union Civil Protection Mechanism to effectively address the increasing risks posed by a warming world. The DG CLIMA guidance on developing adaptation strategies and DG ECHO advice on risk assessment should be updated, taking into account the results of foresight assessments.

4. Using the European Commission’s Mission on Adaptation to Climate Change including Societal Transformation to complement the priorities put forward in the strategies above.

5. Connecting existing and new online portals and platforms as data, knowledge and good practices continue to increase. Effective implementation of these technologies relies on the development of international standards for information and knowledge management, and can facilitate access, analysis, cross-learning and sharing.

6. Increasing institutional and financial support at the EU level and between Member States to enhance mechanisms for building resilience in an uncertain future.

7. Assuring that all European financial investments are resilient and sensitive to future disasters and climate risks, including by employing robust risk screening processes.

8. Creating a new body, the Centre for an Open, Resilient Europe (CORE), building on the successes of PLACARD. There remains a pressing need for an organisation committed to bridging CCA and DRR across Europe and supporting the implementation of the European Green Deal.

Key messages

  • Building more resilient societies, including advancing the European Green Deal, should be a central concern as Europe considers its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 recovery must be climate-compatible and focus on building long-term resilience, in addition to responding to short-term priorities.
  • Climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) are important processes for managing future risks and galvanising cooperation between communities, across sectors and scales and beyond borders. Insights from these areas should be leveraged for the European Green Deal and COVID-19 recovery.
  • Improving communication, harmonising language, connecting actors, and building structures for cooperation will be essential for a resilient European Green Deal and green COVID-19 recovery. A wealth of tools and approaches are available to take immediate steps. Continued investments are needed to strengthen existing institutions and create new ones to manage risk and promote cooperation in a warming world.

PLACARD virtual conference on adapting to extremes

The PLACARD virtual conference “Adapting to extremes: exploring the challenges of the new decade” took stock of current collaboration between climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR), showcasing success stories and diving into what is not going so well. It featured interactive activities, discussion breakout rooms and encouraged participants to actively engage in the exchange.

The conference video contains the discussion and presentations, but not the break-out groups. The accompanying notes (51 pages, 3.6 MB) were created as a live document during the event, and include discussions, thoughts and more information.

This paper has been produced as part of the PLACARDproject: Expanding the information and knowledge management framework to support sustainable institutional cooperation in CCA and DRR.

Suggested citation

Adams, K.M., Klein, R.J.T., Pulquério, M., Bachofen, C., Barrott, J., Bentz, J., Bharwani, S., Bojovic, D., Brandon, K., Buschmann, D., Capela Lourenço, T., Coninx, I., Curl, M., Giupponi, C., Houtkamp, J., Karali, E., Leitner, M., Lokers, R., Michalek, G., Mysiak, J., Pringle, P., Prutsch, A., Schmidt, A., Schwarze, R., Street, R.B., Sushchenko, O., Talebian, S. and Walton, P. 2020. Adapting to extremes: Key insights for bridging climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in the European Green Deal. Brussels, Belgium, PLACARD Project.

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