Region's countries

The South West transnational region covers the Southwestern territories of Europe. The cooperation area of the 2021-2027 Interreg Programme includes the southern regions of France, the entire territory of Spain (including the Balearic Islands and then territories of Melilla and Ceuta), mainland Portugal, and the Principality of Andorra. Compared to the previous programming period (2014-2020), the new transnational cooperation area only excluded the UK territory of Gibraltar*. A map comparing the old and new borders can be seen here.

* From the entry into force of the UK Withdrawal Agreement on 1 February 2020, content from the United Kingdom will no longer be updated on this website.

Policy framework

1.     Transnational cooperation programme

The Interreg VI B South West Programme (2021-2027) was approved by the Commission on 13 December 2022. The programme sets up four priorities in the South West region (SUDOE): 

  • Priority 1: Preserve natural capital and strengthen adaptation to climate change in SUDOE
  • Priority 2: Promote social cohesion and territorial and demographic balance in SUDOE through innovation and transformation of the productive sectors
  • Priority 3: Promote social cohesion and territorial and demographic balance in SUDOE through social innovation, heritage enhancement and services
  • Priority 4: Strengthen the impact of SUDOE in the territories. 

Climate change adaptation is explicitly covered by Priority 1 and its specific objective 2.4 (Promoting climate change adaptation and disaster risk prevention, resilience taking into account ecosystem based approaches). The Programme is expected to mitigate climate change impacts and improve forecasting, prevention and management of natural risks.

Actions relevant for adaptation are also encouraged through the other specific objectives of Priority 1, such as 2.7 (Increase the protection and conservation of nature, biodiversity and green infrastructure, also in urban areas, and decrease all forms of pollution) and 2.5 (Promote access to water and sustainable water management). Expected results include the reinforced resilience of ecosystems and decreased pressure on vulnerable water resource. 

For the previous period (2014-2020), the INTERREG V B SUDOE supported climate change adaptation with its Priority 4 (Combating climate change), which was endowed with 12% of the overall programme funding (17.08 million Euros). This axis focused on management and prevention of climate change risks associated with the scarcity of water resources and high variability of rainfall, which increases the risk of intensifying of drought conditions, desertification, soil erosion, forest fires and flooding.

2.     International conventions and other cooperation initiatives

Some areas of the SUDOE region are included in the OSPAR ‘Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic’, specifically in Region IV - Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast. Under this convention, climate change (and ocean acidification) is addressed as a cross-cutting issue for knowledge generation, monitoring of impacts and design of management options aiming at increasing ecosystem resilience. France and Spain are also contracting parties of the Barcelona Convention, which covers the area of the entire Mediterranean Sea.

The SUDOE region includes the Pyrenees mountain area, which has a long tradition of cooperation between France, Spain and Andorra. The Working Community of the Pyrenees (CTP) was established in 1983 on the initiative of the Council of Europe to tackle common cross-border challenges in the fields of transports, education, research, cultural heritage and sustainable development, among others. The CTP responds to the territory’s challenges with its Pyrenean Strategy (2018-2024). It includes a specific axis on Climate Actions.

In 2010, the CTP funded the Pyrenean Climate Change Observatory (OPCC). It aims to monitor and understand the climate change phenomenon in the Pyrenees to support adaptation the territory. The OPCC platform includes a geoportal to access thematic maps. In 2018, the OPCC coordinated the publication “Climate change in the Pyrenees: impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation”, which s constitutes the most recent and complete knowledge base on climate change in the Pyrenees region.

3.     Adaptation strategies and plans

The Pyrenean Climate Change Strategy was approved by the CTP’s Executive Committee in November 2021 and ratified by the seven CTP territory presidencies in December 2021. The strategy’s vision envisages a region resistant to the effects of climate change by 2050. It identifies five strategic goals: (1) Developing knowledge on the Pyrenean climate and its variability; (2) Sustainably managing biodiversity and natural resources when faced with the impacts  of climate change and improving the associated ecosystem services;  (3) Contributing to a fair climate and ecological transition, assisting the Pyrenean  economy and population through this process; (4) Promoting territorial management that is compatible with the risks associated with  climate change, ensuring territorial balance; (5) Contributing to knowledge-based coordination, cooperation, and governance, reinforcing awareness-raising, communication, and environmental education.

The draft Operational Plan of the Pyrenean Climate Change Strategy (2022) is organised around 5 systems: Climate, Resilient Natural Areas, Adapted Mountain Economy, Population and Territory, and Governance.

Examples of projects funded in the 2014–2020 period

Examples of projects funded by the SUDOE Programme 2014-2020 are reported below. Key issues for the region are related to drought, water scarcity and fire risks that are exacerbated by climate change.

The RISKCOAST project (Development of tools to prevent and manage geological risks in the coasts linked to climate change, 2019-2022) focuses on the development of innovative tools, methodologies and effective solutions on the prevention and management of geological coastal risks enhanced by climate change. By establishing a transnational cooperation network for geological risks in the SUDOE coastal territory, the project addresses all three phases of emergency management: prevention, response and rehabilitation.

ClimAlert project (Early alert system of climate risks related to water for a greater resilience, 2019-2023) proposes several means to increase resilience: setting up a transnational early warning service for water-related climate risks (droughts, fires, and floods) and a transnational web platform, to improve the capacity of administrations and other stakeholders.

Water management issues are the scope of the AGUAMOD (Development of a water resource management platform in low-water periods in SUDOE territory) project (2016-2019) which provided a platform for the integrated management of water resources in the SUDOE region during summer periods as a tool for strengthening cooperation between managers and land users (Aguamod cuaderno interactivo).

On a different note, PLURIFOR (Transnational Plans for the Management of Forest Risks) project (2016-2019) intended to reduce the vulnerability of woodland areas in Spain, France, and Portugal to multiple hazards (including emerging pests and disease, forest fires, soil degradation and storms) by preparing risk management plans and tools. The objective of ECCLIPSE (Assessment of Climate change in Ports of Southwest Europe) project (2019-2022) is to develop a common framework for assessing the impacts of climate change and the effectiveness of adaptation strategies of ports in the SUDOE space. Climate change represents a significant risk to business, operations, safety and infrastructure – and hence to local, national and global economies. To ensure port operations under these changing conditions, the project aims to achieve a deeper understanding of the impacts of climate change at the local level to explore appropriate adaptation strategies. The project includes 3 case studies in 3 different climate areas: Port of Valencia (Spain, Mediterranean), Port of Aveiro (Portugal, Atlantic) and Port of Bordeaux (France, Gulf of Gascogne).

In addition to the INTERREG V B SUDOE Programme, cross-border cooperation (INTERREG A) also plays an important role in building a joint knowledge base, and to transfer, replicate and capitalise on adaptation knowledge in the region. This is exemplified by the support provided to Pyrenean Climate Change Observatory (OPCC) research activities by the INTERREG A Spain-France-Andorra Cross-Border Cooperation Programme (POCTEFA) both under the 2007-2013 and 2014-2020 programming period. Within this framework, the OPCC-ADAPYR project (2020-2022) is the continuation of the previous OPCC-2 project (2016-2019): these projects enhanced current knowledge on climate change impacts and vulnerabilities in the Pyrenees, supported the preparation of the Climate change adaptation strategy for the Pyrenees and improved the OPCC information portal . Other OPCC projects funded within Interreg POCTEFA can be found here.

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