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North Sea Region

Policy framework

a. Transnational cooperation programme

The North Sea Region (NSR) programme belongs to the family of the INTERREG V transnational 2014-2020 programmes and forms part of the Cohesion policy of the European Union. The Programme aims to support development and foster sustained economic growth across the North Sea Region. Furthermore, it will help enterprises, institutions, public administrations, NGOs and others to pool their expertise, share their experience and cooperate to develop realistic solutions to problems shared by organisations across the region. The NSR programme 2014-2020 builds on extensive experience of cooperation and aims to join efforts to lead the way to stronger, more sustainable economies and societies.

For the period 2014-2020 the NSR programme will focus on four priorities:

  1. Thinking Growth
  2. Eco-innovation
  3. Sustainable North Sea Region
  4. Green transport and mobility

During this period the Programme is expected to:

  • Develop new or improve knowledge partnerships between businesses, knowledge institutions, public administrations and end users with a view to long-term cooperation on developing products and services. Enhance regional innovation support capacity to increase long-term innovation levels and support smart specialisation strategies. Stimulate the public sector to generate innovation demand and innovative solutions for improving public service delivery;
  • Promote the development and adoption of products, services and processes to accelerate the greening of the NSR economy and reduce the environmental footprint of the regions around it;
  • Demonstrate new and/or improved methods for enhancing the climate resilience of target sites and develop new methods for a long-term sustainable management of NSR ecosystems;
  • Demonstrate innovative and/or improved transport and logistic solutions with potential to move large volumes of freight away from long-distance road transportation. Stimulate the take-up and application of green transport solutions for regional freight and personal transport.

The NSR programme 2014-2020 acknowledges that the most serious threat facing the NSR ecosystems is climate change and highlights that climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives are needed to protect NSR countries. Adaptation is explicitly mentioned under the key themes considered in the Programme (Environment group – KT 2) and in the thematic objectives (TO05), investment priorities (IP5a) and intervention fields (087) under priority 3. In addition to the thematic orientation, the NSR programme addresses three horizontal thematic aspects highlighted in EU regulations, including sustainable development. Furthermore, the Programme highlights that the ultimate goal of some funded projects will be to stimulate more extensive adaptation investments, while others will focus on developing innovation in the public sector to address new challenges arising from climate change adaptation and reducing carbon emissions and resource use.


Assessments and projects

a. Projects funded in 2014-2020

For the period 2014-2020 eleven projects have been already approved. Within this group, three projects linked to priority 3 "Sustainable North Sea Region" make explicit reference to adaptation.

The Building with Nature (BwN) project aims to make coasts, estuaries and catchments of the North Sea Region more adaptable and resilient to the effects of climate change. BwN will demonstrate BwN-based climate change adaptation solutions at seven coastal target sites (e.g. sand nourishment at North Sea Coasts and Wadden Sea barrier islands) and six catchments scale sites (e.g., river restoration).

The Flood infrastructure Asset management and Investment in Renovation, adaptation and maintenance (FAIR) project aims to reduce flood risk across the North Sea Region by demonstrating climate change adaptation solutions to improve the performance of flood protection infrastructure. FAIR demonstrates improved approaches for cost-effective upgrading and maintenance, optimising investments across national-system-asset levels, as well as applying adaptive, innovating technical designs.

In the Top soil and water – The climate challenge in the near subsurface (TOPSOIL) project five shared climate adaptation challenges related to the top soil and groundwater will be addressed in 16 pilot areas to develop and test solutions for managing the uppermost 20-30 m of the sub-surface. This will lead to a strong improvement of climate resilience in and across pilot areas. 


b. Projects funded in 2007-2013

The project Climate Proof Areas aims to create a portfolio of climate adaptation strategies for the North Sea Region.

The CLIWAT (Adaptive and Sustainable Water Management and Protection of Society and Nature in an Extreme Climate) project aims to identify the challenges caused by higher water levels and to develop climate scenarios focusing on surface water and water supply as well as the impacts of water on buildings.

The SAWA project (Strategic Alliance for integrated Water Management Actions) aims to adapt existing water management systems to the effects of extreme flood events due to climate change, focusing on sustainable development of society and regional economies.

The Aquarius project (The farmer as a water manager under changing climatic conditions) focuses on enabling farmers to act successfully as water managers in changing climatic conditions.

The diPol project (Impact of Climate Change on the quality of urban and coastal waters) aims to identify impacts and suggest measures to reduce the adverse consequences of climate change affecting the quality of urban and coastal waters. 

The MARE project (Managing Adaptive Responses to changing flood risk in the North Sea Region) focuses on developing a transnational methodology to implement urban Flood Risk Management in four countries. 


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