Regional high level conference and seminar on climate change adaptation

Date: 02-03.07.2014
Place: Skopje, Macedonia
Organizer: ECRAN Secretariat with EC TAIEX Unit

Activities under this ECRAN project focus on the ECRAN beneficiaries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo*[1] , Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey). Several initiatives and projects related to climate change adaptation in Turkey and the West Balkans have already been taken and implemented over the past years. Regional political interest in adaptation to climate change was for instance demonstrated by regional initiatives such as the 2007 Belgrade Initiative, resulting in the Regional Forum for Climate Change and the Southeast European Virtual Climate Change Centre, as well as by the 2012 Ministerial meeting [2] that agreed on regional cooperation in the area of climate change.

In November 2008 the Environment Ministers of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia supported the Southeast European Climate Change Framework Action Plan for Adaptation. This Plan aims to ensure that the Southeast European population build their resilience capacity to the risks and impacts of climate change through the implementation of adaptation actions; the improvement of understanding of climate change and its effects; education and awareness raising; the improvement of decision making and good governance; and the development and strengthening of partnership and cooperation

Focus of ECRAN adaptation work

The ECRAN activities follow up to the work of the preceding Regional Environmental Network for Accession (RENA). ECRAN will shape its work such that it will:

- Promote action by ECRAN beneficiaries - the ECRAN Adaptation Working Group will support the Western Balkan countries and Turkey in developing and adopting comprehensive adaptation strategies and will provide assistance in building up their adaptation capacities and take the appropriate action;

- Promote 'climate-proofing' action by further encouraging adaptation in key vulnerable sectors ensuring that the infrastructure is made more resilient;

- Support better informed decision-making by addressing gaps in knowledge about adaptation. ECRAN will address adaptation action by coordinating adaptation activities with the European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT) as the 'one-stop shop' for adaptation information in Europe.

Attention will be paid to best practice on adaptation (through training) and to supporting the identification and prioritisation of adaptation options and to the required policy changes, structures and processes for adaptation. This work will build on the results of previous activities undertaken; most in particular those of the UNISDR and EEA projects, as a starting point. Close coordination and cooperation will be sought with other adaptation initiatives such as the one from the World Bank.

In practical terms this means that emphasis will be put on the adaptation aspects in such sectors as civil protection and disaster risk management. Disasters caused by climate change – droughts, floods, storms, and other - not only capture people’s imagination, but also form a serious point of interest and concern from a political point of view and therefore are, sadly enough, probably the best ambassadors for adaptation awareness and action; with effects that may even reach far beyond these disasters.

High Level Conference and Seminar

The High Level Event aims at bringing together leaders and policy makers of the ECRAN beneficiaries, in order to share the available experience and lessons learned - including on the role that the framework offered by the EU’s 2013 Climate Adaptation Strategy may play - to present and discuss the actions that climate adaptation incites in their countries, the regional approaches and cooperation, and to prepare for creating the governance systems that ensure participation of stakeholders and a balance between the top-down and bottom-up processes.

The emphasis during this High Level Conference and the Seminar will be on the future ECRAN action in the field of adaptation needs, adaptation options and the required policy changes, structures and processes that are at the same time cost effective and tangible.

Furthermore the Conference and the Seminar will enhance the coordination and cooperation between the ongoing adaptation activities in the region, such as the Covenant of Mayors and Mayors Adapt Initiatives, including the EU Cities Adapt project, the GIZ initiative on ‘Climate Change Adaptation in the Western Balkans’, the UNISDR and WMO’s joint programme ‘Building resilience to disasters in the Western Balkans and Turkey’, the World Bank’s work ‘Turn Down the Heat III’, and others.

Participation of international, national, as well as regional/local political and public administration representatives to the Conference and the Seminar is therefore welcomed and will provide an excellent window of cooperation, coordination and networking between the existing adaptation initiatives.

The High Level Conference and Seminar are expected to plant the seeds for development of national institutional structures and to start a process of increased interest for adaptation among the local and regional authorities in the ECRAN countries, eventually resulting in adaptation planning and action.

1 This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

2 Ministerial meeting in Tirana on 21 September 2012 with attendance of Albania, Turkey, Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo