PLACARD Manifesto

Adapting to extremes: Key insights for bridging CCA and DRR in 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.

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. Both are concerned with society–risk dynamics and require engagement with complex risk assessments, foresight and strategic planning to build resilience. 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, we have 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 the PLACARD project for bridging CCA and DRR. We highlight three areas for action to improve cooperation, and provide recommendations for the European Green Deal. While these perspectives have originated in a European setting, they provide valuable insights across regional and national contexts to support efforts to build more resilient future societies as we adapt to extremes in a warming world.

Why link CCA and DRR?

While CCA and DRR approaches can be distinct – with different risk assessment methods, stakeholders and timescales (Lei and Wang, 2014) – the two fields are highly relevant to one another. Both assess the way that hazards intersect with risk exposure and vulnerability to that risk, and engage with common concepts like resilience and ecosystems. They have similar scopes too, in that they convene diverse stakeholders across sectors and scales to strategise and take action, and aim to support individuals and communities to ultimately benefit people on the ground (UNFCCC, 2017). Because of these commonalities, there is a strong rationale to improve coordination between the CCA and DRR communities and benefit from shared knowledge and expertise.

There is significant interest from CCA and DRR professionals in further collaboration, including from researchers, decision-makers, and practitioners. From 2015 to 2020, PLACARD (co-)organised over 50 dialogues involving a broad profile of stakeholders, from major conferences to workshops and webinars. PLACARD also led in organising the European Climate Change Adaptation (ECCA) conference 2019 in Lisbon, focusing, for the first time, on collaboration between CCA and DRR.

In an environment of scarce resources, more integrated approaches within and between governments could minimise duplication of efforts and ensure access to relevant resources or knowledge products. Additionally, where many developing countries especially may lack the capacity to implement multilateral frameworks such as the Paris Agreement or the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, combining efforts could enable more efficient use of resources.