Adriatic-Ionian Area

Region's countries

The Adriatic-Ionian cooperation area covers European countries that border the Adriatic and Ionian Sea. The 2021-2027 cooperation area embraces the whole territory of the previous Interreg Programme (entire extension of Greece, Croatia and Slovenia, twelve Italian regions and two provinces, as well as non-EU countries of Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina), also including the North Republic of Macedonia. A map comparing the old and new borders can be seen here.


Policy framework

1.     Transnational cooperation programme

The Interreg VI B “IPA ADRION Programme (2021-2027)”, has not yet been finally adopted. Details of the programme will be presented upon approval.

For the programming period 2014-2020, the Interreg V B Adriatic-Ionian Programme (ADRION) aimed to promote the sustainable economic and social prosperity of the Adriatic and Ionian area. It supported growth and jobs creation, by improving the regions’ attractiveness, competitiveness and connectivity while preserving the environment and ensuring healthy and balanced marine and coastal ecosystems. For the period 2014-2020 ADRION focused on four priorities:

  • Innovative and smart region;
  • Sustainable region;
  • Connected region;
  • Supporting the governance of the EUSAIR.

These four priorities worked towards specific objectives:

  • Strengthening research, technological development and innovation;
  • Preserving and protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency;
  • Promoting sustainable transport and remove bottlenecks in key network infrastructures;
  • Enhancing the institutional capacity of public authorities and stakeholders and the efficient public administration.

Climate change adaptation is considered under priority axis 2, as part of the Specific Objective 2.2 ‘Enhance the capacity in transnationally tackling environmental vulnerability, fragmentation and safeguarding ecosystem service in the ADRION area. Through this objective, ADRION contributed to enhance a common understanding in the region of environmental protection, biodiversity management, ecosystem services and climate change adaptation. Other results include: enhanced competencies of stakeholders and involved partners; increased availability of data and information also through interoperability and systematic monitoring; increased transnational cooperation among authorities and civil society organisations; harmonised infrastructures, management structures and hazard or risk response mechanisms; increase in the number of management and planning tools.

Moreover, the Italy-Croatia Cross-Border Cooperation Programme assumes high relevance for the Adriatic-Ionian region. Its cooperation area (25 provinces in Italy and 8 counties in Croatia) covers a significant portion of the Adriatic sub-region. The 2014-2020 programme directly dealt with the issue of climate change adaptation; its strategic objective 2.1, part of priority axis 2 ‘Safety and resilience’, focused on improving climate change monitoring and planning of adaptation measures.


2.     Macro-region strategies

The ADRION cooperation area coincides with the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR). The general objective of the EUSAIR is to promote economic and social prosperity and growth in the region by improving its attractiveness, competitiveness and connectivity. With four EU Member States (Croatia, Greece, Italy, Slovenia) and six non-EU countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, San Marino, Serbia), the strategy contribute to the further integration of the Western Balkans. The EUSAIR focuses on both the land and marine resources of the regio. It builds on four thematic pillars representing key challenges as well as opportunities in the region: (1) Blue growth, (2) Connecting the Region, (3) Environmental quality, (4) Sustainable tourism. Cooperation for joint management of common environmental resources as well as climate change and disaster risk management issues addresses crucial challenges for the sustainable development of the Adriatic-Ionian region. Climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as disaster risk management feature as horizontal topics which are relevant to all four pillars of the EUSAIR strategy. The Strategy is complemented by the 2020 Action Plan (SWD(2020). It replaces the 2014 Plan  structured according to the same four pillars of the Strategy. The Plan identifies topics, actions and projects for each of the four pillars of the Strategy. Actions under the Pillar ’Environmental quality’ are expected to contribute to minimising the impact of climate change on marine and terrestrial ecosystems.


3.     International conventions and other cooperation initiatives

At the wider scale of the entire Mediterranean region, cooperation on environmental protection (including climate change adaptation) at transnational level is formalised in the frame of the Barcelona Convention and related protocols.

The EU has financed dedicated regional cooperation initiatives in the area of environment and climate assisting Balkan countries for many years. Some of them are currently also part of the Adriatic-Ionian Region. The Regional Environmental Network for Accession project (RENA 2010-2013) contributed to environmental and climate improvements in the Western Balkans and convergence of the region to EU standards. The Environment and Climate Regional Accession Network (ECRAN 2013-2016) continued to strengthen regional cooperation between the candidate countries and potential candidates. It is currently followed up by the EU Environment Partnership Programme for Accession (EPPA 2019-2022) and by the EU Support for Climate Action in IPA II beneficiaries – “Transition towards the low emissions and climate-resilient economy (TRATOLOW 2020-2023). It supports the EU integration of the Western Balkan partners in the field of environment and climate. The TRATOLOW Working Group 4 is specifically working on climate change adaptation. It assists national and regional adaptation planning and actions in the West Balkan countries.

Eight Adriatic-Ionian countries (all but Italy) together with Bulgaria, Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Turkey, as well as the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) collaborate in the frame of the Drought Management Centre for South East Europe (DMCSEE). The centre coordinates and facilitates the development, assessment and application of drought risk management tools and policies in South-Eastern Europe with the goal of improving preparedness and reducing drought impacts in this region.


4.     Adaptation strategies and plans

So far, no adaptation strategies and plans have been developed in the specific context of the Adriatic-Ionian region. The Regional Climate Change Adaptation Framework for the Mediterranean Marine and Coastal Areas endorsed by the 19th meeting of Contracting Parties (COP19) of the Barcelona Convention is relevant also for this specific region.


Examples of projects funded in the 2014–2020 period

Funded by the ADRION 2014-2020 program, I-STORM (Integrated sea storm management strategies) project (2018-2019) enhanced sharing of data, forecasts and knowledge on sea storms and related impacts (coastal flooding, erosion and consequent impacts on coastal ecosystems and infrastructures) through common infrastructures and tools. The project developed Guidelines for translating data and forecasts to early warning and intervention procedures, and a Strategy addressed to national/regional key players of the ADRION basin. Both documents suggested the most effective way to deal with management of data and forecasts and related Early Warning procedures. Moreover, the project developed the I-STORMS Application for Smartphones and Tablets and the I-STORMS Web Integrated System (IWS). IWS is an online tool to share and integrate data and information, fostering collaboration between partners for a better response to sea storms risks in the Adriatic-Ionian area. The project initiated a Permanent Cooperation Table It ensures that dialogue continues after the project’s closure. It aims to foster common understanding of current challenges of coastal areas, and promotes coordination and sharing of know-how.

Other relevant projects that cover large part of the Adriatic-Ionian region were funded by the Italy-Croatia Cross Border Cooperation Programme (2014-2020) and are described below. Three of them (ADRIADAPT, RESPONSe and ADRIACLIM) provided support to local authorities for the development of adaptation plans and strategies in coastal and urban areas of the Adriatic-Ionian region.

ADRIADAPT (A resilience information platform for Adriatic cities and towns, 2019-2021) promoted local and regional resilience. It helped developing the knowledge base to identify suitable climate adaptation and planning options in the Adriatic-Ionian area. The project delivered the Adriadapt Resilience Platform, with tools and knowledge for climate planning that were tested with local authorities. It also supported local climate information and climate resilience plans.

RESPONSe (Strategies to adapt to climate change in Adriatic regions, 2019-2021) empowered local policy-makers to enable climate-smart governance approaches and promoted sustainable living in Adriatic marine and coastal areas. Project outcomes include the adaptation actions toolkit for Public Authorities (Climate Menu for Adriatic Regions). It is a free online repository of adaptation and mitigation actions that can support local policy-making to address the challenges of climate change. ADRIACLIM (Climate change information, monitoring and management tools for adaptation strategies in Adriatic coastal areas 2020-2022) aims to develop accurate information for supporting the development of regional and local climate change adaptation plans. It focues on enhancing climate change adaptation capacity in coastal areas. It assisted developing homogeneous and comparable data, improving knowledge, capacity and cooperation on climate change monitoring  and modelling systems and developing advanced information systems, tools and indicators for optimal climate change adaptation planning.

ASTERIS (adaptation to Saltwater intrusion in sea level rise scenarios, 2019-2021) improves the understanding of spatial and temporal variation in seawater intrusion. It applies different scenarios of climate change, to identify and map needs and barriers in risk management and to provide practical tools for sustainable management of coastal aquifers at the local scale.

AdriaMORE (Adriatic DSS exploitation for monitoring and risk management of coastal extreme weather and flooding) (2018 - 2019), capitalizing on the major achievements ADRIARadNet project funded by the IPA Adriatic CBC programme, has equipped territories and people with effective tools to tackle severe weather events and other related marine risks events.