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Northern Periphery and Arctic

Region's countries

Parts of Finland, Ireland, Sweden United Kingdom (Northern Ireland and Scotland) and Norway, the entire Iceland, as well as Greenland and Faroe Islands (Denmark).


Policy framework

1.    Transnational cooperation programme

The INTERREG V B Northern Periphery and Arctic (NPA) Programme 2014-2020 involves four EU and three non EU Member States encompassing the Euro-Arctic zone, parts of the Atlantic zone and parts of the Barents region. Under specific circumstances it might also involve partners outside the programme area. For the period 2014-2020 the NPA Programme focuses on four priorities:

  1. Using innovation to maintain and develop robust and competitive communities;
  2. Promoting entrepreneurship to realise the potential of the programme area's competitive advantage;
  3. Fostering energy-secure communities through promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency;
  4. Protecting, promoting and developing cultural and natural heritage.

During this period, the programme is expected to contribute towards:

  • Changing the attitude in relation to innovation processes, entrepreneurship and market behaviour among small and medium sized enterprises in the low densely populated areas outside the regional centres;
  • Enhancing the capacity and preparedness in local and regional communities to handle the risks connected to climate change and large-scale exploitation of natural resources.

The 4 priority axes contain 6 specific objectives. The NPA Programme 2014-2020 considers climate change adaptation explicitly in its thematic objectives as well as in one of its three horizontal principles (Environmental sustainability), underlining the need to implement adaptation measures. The NPA Programme is expected to contribute to the generation of adaptation knowledge, which is required for the development of other relevant and much-needed skills as well as awareness raising.


2.    International conventions and other cooperation initiatives

Together with the Atlantic Area and the North Sea, this region is part of the area covered by the OSPAR ‘Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic’. The Northern Periphery and Arctic area corresponds to the OSPAR sub-region ‘Arctic Waters’. Under this convention, climate change (and ocean acidification) is addressed as a cross-cutting issue in terms of knowledge generation, monitoring of impacts and design of management options aiming at increasing ecosystem resilience.

The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum in the Arctic region. It has a circumpolar coverage, which makes it larger than the Northern Periphery and Arctic transnational region. Its members are national governments (Canada, Denmark including Greenland and the Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and United States) and representatives of Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants. Climate change has been addressed, in particular, by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) as well as by other working groups of the Arctic Council.

The Nordic Council of Ministers is the intergovernmental cooperation forum of European Nordic States. It has defined adaptation to climate change as one of twelve strategic recommendations for inter-governmental cooperation. During the previous cooperation programme (2015–2017) the council addressed climate change as one of its focal areas and initiated the ‘Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic’ (AACA) project conducted by AMAP. The Barents is one of the three pilot regions addressed by the AACA project; related results are summarised in the report ‘Adaptation actions for a changing Arctic: perspectives from the Barents area, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme’. The report identifies key environmental and socio-economic changes, assesses the adaptive capacity in the region and discusses adaptation options and adaptation actions. The report also provides key strategies and tools intended to inform decision-makers about possibilities for helping their communities adapt to future change.


3.    Adaptation strategies and plans

The Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) is a forum for intergovernmental cooperation specifically for the Barents region and has Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the European Commission as its members. The BEAC has adopted the 'Action Plan on Climate Change for the Barents Cooperation' in 2013. Originally endorsed at a meeting of the Finnish, Norwegian, Russian and Swedish Foreign Ministers, it was adopted by the Environment Ministers of the BEAC countries. The plan contains concrete activities to be realized by the working groups under the BEAC, including a proposal to develop regional climate strategies in the whole Barents region. The Action Plan was slightly revised and published in a 2nd edition in 2017.


Examples of projects funded in the 2014–2020 period

Examples of projects funded by the NPA Programme 2014-2020 are reported below.

The CLIMATE (Collaborative Learning Initiative Managing and Adapting to the Environment) project (2017-2020) aims to promote and improve climate change awareness in European peripheral rural communities through a knowledge-based approach and community led sustainable resource planning. It brings together local authorities in remote, sparsely populated areas from Sweden, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and the Faroer islands with the aim to develop adaptation plans. The project plans to develop a risk assessment and preparedness scale as well as a portal and knowledge hub that ensure transferability of project outcomes to other local authorities in the region.

The ANH (Adapt Northern Heritage) project (2017-2020) is supporting communities and local authorities to adapt northern cultural heritage to the environmental impacts of climate change and associated natural hazards through community engagement and informed conservation planning. The project will develop an on-line tool to assess the risks for and vulnerabilities of historic places, e.g. due to flood events, coastal and riverbank erosion, rising sea levels, severe storms and permafrost thawing. It will provide guidance for the planning of strategic adaption measures that take into account cultural, economic, environmental and social sustainability. The tool will be developed, tested and demonstrated in nine case studies, in Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Scotland, for which adaptation actions plans will be produced.

The Water-Pro (Northern Runoffs into Profits) project (2016-2019) aims to develop and transfer eco-efficient tools and models for runoff management in the field of agriculture and mineral extraction in Northern and Arctic areas. Runoffs from both of these sectors have large volumes, but low concentrations of nutrients and other compounds; therefore, some similar measures and practices could be applied in the two sectors. More frequent and intense rainfall, as projected under climate change, will bring further challenges in controlling runoffs and water safety in the near future. The project will develop a toolbox of good management practices and a communication platform for the agricultural and mining extraction industries. In addition, several innovative, low cost practices will be implemented in actual pilot sites and their treatment and cost-efficiency evaluated. Water-Pro will also enhance the preparedness of responsible authorities and local resource users to protect water quality, human health, ecosystems and stimulate economic growth and development.

The RECENT (Renewable Community Empowerment in Northern Territories) project (2015-2018) aims to increase energy knowledge in rural communities and help them to have more resilient and energy efficient public infrastructure capable of handling climate change related risks. The project will develop 24 pilot community energy and energy efficiency projects across 5 NPA countries, with a focus on the innovative use of community-owned water assets.