Last update:08 Feb 2017
|National Adaptation Strategy||Adopted|
|Impacts, vulnerability and adaptation assessments - National (screening NAS) - Sectoral & Other (territorial)||
• Completed as part of the NAS
• Austrian Assessment Report 2014 on Climate Change
• Various research project within the ACRP funding programme
|Research programs - National Programmes - Key research initiatives (added value)||Established|
|Climate Services / Met Office - Observation - Climate projections and services||
• Met Service in Austria well established
• Climate service and data centre under the Climate Change Centre Austria (CCCA) operative
|Web Portal(s) / Adaptation platform(s) (5a)||Online|
|Monitoring, Indicators, Methodologies||
• Concept published in 2014
• Progress report published in 2015
|Training and education resources||• Various material is available such as Guideline for adaptation on federal, regional and local level||
|National Communication to the UNFCCC||• Last NatCom Submitted (2014)|
In Austria, an Austrian adaptation strategy (NAS) with an integrated adaptation action plan (NAP) was adopted on 23 October 2012 by the Council of Ministers and taken note of by the Provincial Governors' Conference on 16 May 2013.
The objective of the Austrian Adaptation Strategy is to avoid the adverse effects of climate change on the environment, society, and the economy and to fully utilize any opportunities that may arise. The adoption of the Adaptation Strategy is intended to strengthen natural, social, and technological adaptive capacities. As a nationwide framework for the alignment of necessary adaptation measures, the strategy aims to bring together relevant actors, support cooperative action, and facilitate the use of synergies through cooperation wherever possible. It seeks to provide recommendations in each of the various areas and to identify linkages for all the actors challenged with implementation. In accordance with the precautionary principle, the strategy attempts to lay a foundation for forward-looking action with regard to future climate change impacts and to foster successful implementation.
The Austrian Adaptation Strategy is divided into two parts: a Strategic Framework (or "context") (NAS) and an Action Plan (NAP). The Framework addresses fundamental issues and explains the embedding of the strategy in the overall context. The Action Plan focuses on the vulnerability of the respective areas for actions and presents 132 recommendations for adaptation in 14 areas for action.
The following 14 areas for action are addressed by the strategy: agriculture, forestry, water resources and water management, tourism, energy (with a focus on the electricity industry), construction and housing, protection from natural hazards, disaster risk management, health, ecosystems/biodiversity, transportation infrastructure and selected aspects of mobility, spatial planning, business/industry/trade, and cities (with a focus on urban green and open spaces).
The strategy was developed over five years on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment, and Water Management. The Kyoto Forum (consisting of representatives of the Ministry and the 9 provincial states "Bundesländer" and originally established for mitigation issues) provided strong support for the development of the NAS. The drafting process was characterized by the extensive and active participation of representatives from the ministries, the provincial states, interest groups, stakeholders, NGOs, and other institutions. The Environment Agency Austria (EAA) was actively involved in various aspects of the strategy's development; among other things, it organized the participation process with around 100 institutions.
With regard to implementation, the Austrian Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan provides concrete recommendations in the 14 areas for action and describes those in detail in the corresponding Action Plan, in which also the key actors, potential conflicts and time horizons for implementation are noted for each recommendation and measure. For successful implementation of the NAS, a lot of effort is being made to ensure best possible cooperation between all actors concerned.
In terms of provision of resources, the following premises apply for the implementation of the Austrian Adaptation Strategy:
- The implementation of the recommendations must be achieved within the existing jurisdictions of all governmental authorities (federal, provincial states, local);
- All recommendations listed in the Austrian Action Plan are to be covered by the resources available in the applicable financial frameworks of the public sector (federal, provincial states, local);
- The costs of implementing the recommendations are to be covered by prioritization and shifting within the available budget. In many cases, implementation of the recommendations will require the cooperation of various actors in the public sector (federal, provincial states, local) and the private sector. To ensure fair burden-sharing, cooperation within the public sector and between the public and private sectors is recommendable and meaningful.
A new funding program (KLAR) is available with the aim to support Austrian regions in enhancing their climate resilience in vulnerable sectors. The program has been launched in September 2016 and will run until the end of 2017 for the initial phase, with a volume of 800.000 Euro to support adaptation efforts in regions. In addition, new regional climate scenarios were funded to support regional adaptation. Furthermore, the Federal Environment Ministry, together with the provincial states have financed various capacity building activities for the regional and local level (e.g. workshops in regions, brochure with 11 good-practice examples on adaptation from regions across Austria).
The first progress report on implementing the NAS/NAP was adopted in 2015 and is based on a sound monitoring concept (published in 2014). The results from the progress report show that implementation and mainstreaming of adaptation is increasing in Austria with a different level of progress in the various areas of action.
The further evolution of the Austrian Adaptation Strategy will incorporate findings of the first progress report, as well as new scientific/practical insights, such as the vulnerability of each area for action. A first updated version of the Austrian Adaptation Strategy and its Action Plan is envisaged for spring 2017.
Sectors addressed in NAS/NAP
The recommendations for the 14 areas have been developed beyond generic recommendations and include specific information for implementation such as responsibilities, existing instruments to be used for mainstreaming adaptation, time frame for implementation, and required resources, etc.
Adaptation recommendations have been identified and assessed on the basis of vulnerability assessments. The scientific community was strongly involved in the process of developing proposals for adaptation options for certain areas of action. Thus, the former AustroClim and its approximately 500 members (mainly climate change and impact researchers) were asked to name primary adaptation actions for different areas of action based on several online surveys between 2008 and 2010. In addition, researchers structured those adaptation options and provided first scientific inputs via workshops.
In the next step, stakeholders from the organised public (e.g. federal and provincial ministries or related institutions, interest groups and social/environmental NGOs) were consulted to complement the adaptation recommendations provided by scientists. The stakeholder process with approx. 100 organizations was accompanying the NAS/NAP development phase from summer 2008 until summer 2011 (for more information, please cf. section on engaging stakeholders).
In total, 132 recommendations in the NAP have been formulated with the number of recommendations per field of activity/area of action ranging from three (tourism) to fourteen (agriculture). In most cases, the recommendations for action represent rather bundles of discrete further steps needed to accomplish the respective adaptation goal than single specific measures. The recommendations for action are available at national level, sub-national level, sectoral level and cross-sectoral level.
The following types of adaptation options were identified:
• Grey options (i.e. technological, such as river flood protection, beach nourishment)
• Green options (i.e. ecosystem-based approaches that use nature's multiple services, such as crop diversification, enhancing the ability of indigenous plant and animal species to move across landscapes)
• Soft options (i.e. managerial, legal and policy approaches, such as awareness-raising initiatives, passing legislation, creating early warning systems, insurance, planning instruments)
• Combined options
Each measure described follows the same structure: Content items elaborated for each recommendation - Goal - Relevance - Relation to other activity fields - Relation to existing instruments - Status of implementation - Recommended further steps - Possible resource needs - Conflict potentials - Implementing actors – and time horizon.
No areas for action of the NAS/NAP have been prioritized for implementation, because all are of same importance for Austria. The first progress report showed the developments in each area of action and the level of implementation.
Mainstreaming of adaptation into other policies and programmes
The integration of adaptation into sectoral policies and programmes and thus mainstreaming is increasing with practical examples in agriculture, forestry, biodiversity, health, water management and natural hazard management.
For example, the Common Agricultural Programme for Austria addresses adaptation to climate change extensively by financing several recommendations included in the NAS/NAP. Another example is the Environmental impact assessment where climate change adaptation has been addressed in a draft version of the amendment.
Social aspects also feature an important element in the NAS and need to be considered during the implementation of recommendations.
Observations and data are available for the last 250 years in the greater alpine region (HistAlp-Dataset). The longest temperature and air pressure series extend back to 1760, precipitation to 1800, cloudiness to the 1840s and sunshine to the 1880s in the alpine region. Projections are available for the Alpine region for temperature, precipitation, heat, heavy precipitation and storms. Data collection and provision is located at the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG) with meteorological stations measuring temperature, precipitation, wind, sunshine and many other meteorological parameters.
New regional climate scenarios for Austria and its nine provincial states are available since autumn 2016. The development of those scenarios was co-financed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment, and Water Management and all federal states and undertaken by a consortium.
The results show that Austria has experienced a temperature increase of 1,5 °C since 1900. This has resulted, for example, in an extended vegetation period of 13,5 days, in a decreasing number of ice and frost days (- 14 days) and an increasing number of heat days (+ 8 days) (reference period 1986 – 2010 with 1961 – 1985).
The new regional climate projections for the future (based on 13 EURO-CORDEX models, 12.5x12.5 km grid and using two THG scenarios) show a further increase in temperature by 1,4°C until 2050 (similar results for RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). Depending on our global efforts in climate mitigation, temperature in Austria may increase up to 4 °C in 2100 (RCP8.5).
Results are available via the CCCA-Data portal.
Impacts & vulnerability assessment
The Austrian Panel on Climate Change (APCC) has conducted a comprehensive assessment to document and integrate current scientific knowledge of climate change and its anticipated impacts on Austria as well as presents the needs and possibilities for mitigation and adaptation. The APCC report was published in September 2014, after the release of the IPCC Working Group III 5th Assessment Report.
The Austrian Assessment Report 2014 (AAR14) is based on the IPCC structure and process; it consists of three volumes that present the existing knowledge on climate change in Austria, and on the needs and possibilities for mitigation and adaptation. The report aims to present the scientific knowledge pertaining to Austria in a coherent and complete manner to submit this in the form of policy-relevant information to the Austrian Federal Government and political decision-making bodies at all levels, and thereby providing a decision-making basis for the private sector and a knowledge base for academic institutions. Similar to the IPCC assessment reports, the AAR14 is based on the principle of being policy-relevant, but not policy-prescriptive.
In a joint, three-year effort approximately 240 Austrian scientists have developed this first progress report on climate change in Austria, and thus summarized the current state of knowledge on the characteristics of climate change in Austria, its consequences, and mitigation and adaptation strategies. Among the achievements of the report are:
• Increased robustness of scientific data through integration of the findings of different research approaches and methods.
• Development of data that can better inform societal decision making on climate change issues.
• Provision of policy-relevant technical support for strategies developed to respond to climate change, and work on responses with the European Union and other international organizations.
• Identification of knowledge gaps that can be addressed by future research.
• Building of an active network of Austrian research institutions, individual scientists, policymakers, and other stakeholders to carry work on climate change forward.
Further assessments of the APCC are planned with the focus on specific topics. The first special report will be addressing health, demography and climate change and will be published in late 2018. More special reports can be expected in the years to come.
The Austrian NAS contains a qualitative vulnerability assessment for nine sectors (i.e. water, tourism, agriculture, forestry, electricity and energy, housing and construction, health, ecosystems and biodiversity and transport/infrastructure) which has been carried out by the Environment Agency Austria in cooperation with the Institute of Meteorology of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences. These vulnerability reports were feeding into the NAS and are available online (German only). New scientific results regarding impacts and vulnerability (as outcome from research projects financed under ACRP or StartClim) have been integrated into the revision of the Austrian Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan to be published end of 2016.
At regional level, some provincial states have conducted vulnerability/impact assessments for their territories and priority sectors: Lower Austria (for forestry, agriculture, energy, water and winter tourism), Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria and Tyrol. Upper Austria, Styria, Tyrol and Vorarlberg have already adopted a regional adaptation strategy, strategies for Salzburg and Carinthia are soon finalised (expected in early 2017). Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland are mainstreaming adaptation into existing policies, such as climate mitigation plans.
With regard to economic assessments, a scientific evaluation of the financial consequences of climate change in Austria has been presented in January 2015 as results of the ACRP (Austrian Climate Research Programme) project Costs of Inaction (COIN). This analysis and documentation on the "costs of inaction" provide the basis for further applied research under the ACRP on the costs of adaptation measures. PACINAS and PACTCH:ES, two projects expected to be published in early 2017 are closely interrelated and focus on the following:
• PACINAS (Public Adaptation Costs: Investigating the National Adaptation Strategy): Building on the project COIN, PACINAS will analyse, based on the Austrian Adaptation Strategy, the consequences of major public adaptation measures for public budgets. A case study approach for selected decision makers at the federal, provincial states, and municipal governance (city) level will be combined with a macroeconomic assessment. The cost assessment will deal with both extreme events and continuous changes. Key stakeholders will be involved throughout the project to elicit adaptation needs and associated costs and benefits.
• PATCH:ES (Private Adaptation Threats and CHances: Enhancing Synergies with the Austrian NAS implementation): Private adaptation in Austria will be analysed – its extent, main actors and drivers and potential effects to relief public budgets, but also as source of maladaptation in terms of adverse external effects and contradictions to federal policies. PATCH:ES reveals the dynamics and trade-offs for private adaptation along three test case studies (agriculture, tourism, and private households) and derives recommendations for good governance synchronizing private adaptation with governmental efforts.
Climate research has rapidly evolved in recent years in Austria. The national climate research programme StartClim and the Austrian Climate Research Program (ACRP) of the Climate and Energy Fund provide important and forward-looking results. In addition, significant insight has been obtained through the former research programme proVISION of the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy and the Global Change Programme of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
Given the dimensions of climate change, institutionalized cooperation in climate and climate impact research is urgently needed in Austria. Upon the initiative of Austrian universities, the Climate Change Centre Austria (CCCA) was formally established in 2011. The objective of the CCCA is to improve the quality and efficiency of Austrian climate research through networking and the promotion of cooperation, but also to enhance its international visibility. As a focal point for research, policy, media, and the public, and for all questions of climate research in Austria, it serves to foster a sustainable national climate dialogue. The CCCA is organized as an association and currently holds 23 full members and 4 associate members, including numerous universities and non-academic research institutions.
In 2014, a concept for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) has been published, which aims to:
• Monitor the implementation of the Austrian Adaptation Strategy;
• Provide an overview on the progress of adaptation and information on key trends of vulnerabilities;
• Create awareness for the need of adaptation as well as highlight gaps and key challenges;
• Provide a basis for continued development (review) of the NAS.
The M&E system follows a pragmatic approach and is closely related to the Action Plan. It comprises two modules: the first module is a stakeholder survey ("self-assessment approach"; based on the Action plan and sent to the key actors mentioned therein); the second module presents a criteria-approach ("indicator-based approach" with qualitative and quantitative data collections). The joint consideration of these two components provided a broad picture of the implementation of the NAS and key adaptation trends in Austria. The M&E scheme was developed together with stakeholders by involving them in workshops and personal interviews.
Based on the results from the self-assessment and the data collection based on indicators, a first progress report of the state of implementation of the Austrian Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan was published in 2015. It shows that the measures recommended in the NAP have been or are being implemented in all activity fields although the level of progress varies from sector to sector.
Future M&E and reporting is planned on a five-year-cycle.
In Austria, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management holds overall responsibility for adaptation policy-making. The Ministry started to develop an Austrian Adaptation Strategy (NAS) and Austrian Adaptation Action Plan (NAP) in 2007 and took over its coordination.
Regarding horizontal coordination, all Federal Ministries were invited to join the NAS/NAP development process and to provide feedback and comments via three rounds of written consultations. More precisely, the existing Interministerial Committee to Coordinate Measures to Protect Global Climate (IMC Climate Change) was regularly updated on the status of work towards the NAS and NAP. The Federal Ministries were also actively engaged in the development of the monitoring scheme for adaptation. This informal mode of governance has proven successful in Austria.
Regarding the vertical coordination of adaptation, the Kyoto Forum (consisting of representatives of the Ministry and the provincial states, originally established for mitigation issues) provided strong support for the development of the NAS and NAP. Especially the provincial states are highly committed to cooperate with the Federal Ministry on climate change adaptation. Thus, a cooperation-based network mode of vertical governance with predominantly voluntary instruments is in place. One example reflecting the nature of this cooperation-based network mode are dedicated workshops in the provincial states which were financed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management in cooperation with the Climate and Energy Fund. These workshops aimed to support the provincial states in building capacity for adaptation, discuss implementation means and highlight research results relevant for the respective province as a basis for deciding on concrete adaptation measures.
Furthermore, the Environment Agency Austria (EAA) fulfilled an important role as a semi-public support unit regarding several strands of activities throughout the entire NAS/NAP process. The support roles delivered by the EAA included the provision of technical expertise (as author, contributor or coordinator of preparatory expert studies), the drafting and editing of the policy paper, and implementation of various information activities towards the public.
A broad participatory process conducted by the EAA was accompanying the strategy development from summer 2008 until summer 2011. The main objective of the participation process was to discuss the adaptation options identified by the scientific community (expert studies) with stakeholders from the organised public (e.g. federal and provincial ministries or related institutions, interest groups and social/environmental NGOs) for inclusion in the policy paper. More than 100 different organisations relevant for implementation of adaptation participated in the development process of the Austrian NAS/NAP. The discussion focused on topics such as responsibilities for implementation, financial resources, knowledge gaps and open research questions. Within this process the stakeholders had the opportunity to exchange their expertise as well as interests, and had a platform for discussing potentially conflicting issues. All results gained from the participatory process are considered in the development of the NAS/NAP.
For vertical coordination throughout the implementation phase, existing committees such as the National Climate Protection Committee are important for a regular exchange of information, experiences and lessons learned and close contact between the Ministry and the provincial states. The Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management together with all provincial states has established an implementation plan for 2016/17 summarizing a few specific measures to be implemented in the next step. For example, a working group on increased private risk precaution in case of extreme weather events is being established in Austria. In addition, they agreed on stronger joined efforts to support adaptation at regional level (i.e. through regional workshops, a brochure with good-practice examples).
Representatives of the provincial states and further relevant stakeholders (including scientists and representatives from other Federal Ministries) have also been involved in the establishment of a M&E system in Austria. The chosen approach (stakeholder survey and data collection; see section 2.d) also ensures ongoing interaction across governance levels ad sectors.
For collaboration with the scientific community in Austria, please see the description on the Climate Change Centre Austria (CCCA) under section 2.c). The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management as well as the Ministry of Science, Research and Economy are in close collaboration and provide financial support to the association.Regarding transboundary issues, an informal exchange among ministerial representatives of all Alpine countries has been initiated in 2013. Annual meetings take place to serve the purpose of transnational coordination for issues of common concern and to provide a platform for lessons learned.
Adaptation capacity, dissemination, education, training
With regard to knowledge transfer, the website of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management reports about the ongoing political processes and further relevant activities on adaptation to climate change at the national level . As part of the participatory process accompanying the development of the Austrian Adaptation Strategy, a national climate change adaptation portal was set up to present Austria-specific information on climate change and adaptation, which also includes a database on adaptation research and practice. Conceptualized and implemented by the Environment Agency Austria with financing from the Climate and Energy Fund, this platform is gradually expanding and serves as an entry point to up-to-date information on adaptation in Austria. Examples provided at the database shall help to increase general understanding of adaptation, and demonstrate that many initiatives involving adaptation have already been undertaken – although not necessarily under the headline of climate change adaptation. In addition to the information available on the Internet, since January 2011 a regular newsletter on climate change adaptation provides practical information for governmental decision-makers, interest groups, etc. (designed and implemented by the Environment Agency Austria with financing from the Climate and Energy Fund).
The climate research department of the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG) runs an information portal on the subject of climate change since 2010. This platform seeks to present sound scientific information on climate change in an understandable form. Furthermore, the Climate Change Centre Austria (CCCA) has set up a website which provides climate knowledge and climate data as well as and informs about research activities and relevant events.
Handbooks and brochures
Key results of the Austrian Climate Research Program (ACRP) have been published regularly under the title “ACRP in Essence” since 2014. They are summarizing outcomes of the ACRP research projects in a nut shell and aiming to make those outcomes accessible to policy makers and politicians. Up to now, reports available focus on topics such as agriculture, forestry, business, health, water, energy, etc.
In order to support politicians and experts in the public administration of provincial states, regions and cities, as well as actors in regional management in developing adaptation strategies, a handbook with methods and tools which helps to tackle the challenges of adaptation was published. It provides guidance for the strategic and proactive examination of climate change impacts. The handbook is one of the main results of the project FAMOUS (Factory of Adaptation Measures operated ad different Scales) financed by the Climate and Energy Fund.
The handbook is divided into two parts:
- In Part 1, the essential steps of an adaptation process are described and organized into three phases: Phase 1) Creating a Foundation for Adaptation, Phase 2) Identifying Risks and Finding Solutions, Phase 3) Implementing and Monitoring Actions.
- Part 2 covers the concrete measures and tools for each phase of the adaptation process. These are provided in form of fact sheets, checklists, guidelines, etc.
More guidelines have been developed on a variety of issues concerning the integration of adaptation as part of research projects, mainly financed by the ACRP. Examples are the research projects CcTalK!, which provided knowledge on how to communicate climate change adaptation to be able to increase awareness and motivate stakeholder to act on adaptation. Also the project ARISE developed a support system for climate-sensitive iterative risk management as a key adaptation approach.
The research project Envisage-cc provides guidelines helping project developers of large infrastructure projects in addressing the impact of climate change when designing and planning projects. This guidance was developed in a transdisciplinary way with potential users (infrastructure developers and project planners) from various fields such as transport infrastructure, energy, urban development and tourism.
For raising public awareness on impacts and adaptation to climate change, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management has published a brochure for the general public, "translating" the Austrian Adaptation Strategy´s content into easy understandable language and providing concrete tips for individuals. This brochure has been sent to all municipalities in Austria and has been further distributed via contacts and networks. In addition, three videos were produced to communicate the topic of adaptation to a broader audience : 1) on impact of climate change in Austria; 2 ) on need for adaptation to climate change and 3 ) on climate change adaptation at regional level.
A new brochure that presents 11 good-practice examples of adaptation in Austrian regions will be available at the end of 2016 (financed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management together with the provincial states). These examples should inspire other regions and municipalities affected by climate change to start the adaptation process in a proactive manner.
Interactive activities and capacity building programme
During the course of 2014, several workshops have been organised in the provincial states with the aim to bring together relevant stakeholders to inform about the NAS/NAP and discuss necessary means of implementation at regional/sub-regional levels. To facilitate the discussion and foster the science/policy interface, scientific input from research projects relevant to the provincial states has been gathered and presented as a basis for deciding on adaptation needs. Due to the success, a second series of workshops are being conducted from autumn 2016 focusing on building capacities in Austrian regions and among regional/local stakeholders.
In September 2016, a new pilot project to foster adaptation in Austrian regions has started. In a first phase, regions can apply for support in order to develop a specific adaptation plan shaped to their special concerns. In case of positive evaluation of their concept, the region receives funding for hiring an adaptation manager responsible to steer the implementation of adaptation measures throughout the following two years.
Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment & Water Management
Dr. Helmut Hojesky
Head of Division I/4 – Climate and Air Quality
Tel. (+43 1) 51522 1736
Fax (+43 1) 51522 7737
Dr. Barbara Kronberger-Kießwetter
Division I/4 – Climate and Air Quality
Tel. (+43 1) 51522 1739
Fax (+43 1) 51522 7737
Environmental Agency Austria
Unit Environmental Impact Assessment and Climate Change
T: +43-(0)1-313 04/3462
F: +43-(0)1-313 04/5959
Climate Change Centre Austria
T: +43-(0)1-47 654/7707
CCCA Service Centre
CCCA Data Centre