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EU funding of adaptation

The EU finances adaptation to climate change in Europe through a wide range of instruments. The Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020 ensures that at least 20% of the European budget is climate-related expenditure. Therefore, Climate adaptation actions has to be integrated into all the major EU spending programmes, and a tracking system is put in place to guarantee these objectives are met.

To implement the Paris Agreement and the commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Commission proposes to raise the level of ambition for climate mainstreaming across all EU programmes under the MFF for 2021-2027, with a target of at least 25% of EU expenditure contributing to climate objectives.

Within the 20% target for the 2014-2020 MFF, the European Structural and Investment funds as well as Horizon 2020 and the LIFE programme provides significant support to Member States, regions and cities to invest in programmes and projects on adaptation. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Cohesion Fund (CF), along with the European Social Fund (ESF). the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), make up the ESI Funds.

Key actions under the thematic objective of climate change adaptation for the ESI Funds are described in the EU Regional policy section of Climate-ADAPT.

Interreg is a funding programme to stimulate cooperation between regions in the European Union, funded by the European Regional Development Fund.  Interreg Europe offers opportunities for regional and local public authorities across Europe to share ideas and experience on public policy in practice, including also adaptation. A report how climate change adaptation has been mainstreamed into the European Structural and Investment Funds in the 2014-2020 programming period can be found here.

In addition to the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, certain schemes of the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) under the Common Agriculture Policy are important resources when implementing an adaptation strategy for agriculture. More information can be found here.

The LIFE Programme funds pilot, demonstration, best practice and governance projects to support adaptation action in Europe.  In addition, under LIFE, the European Investment Bank operates an innovative financial instrument, the Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF), with biodiversity and climate adaptation objectives.

Funding for research on climate adaptation is also provided by Horizon 2020 and Climate-KIC. Horizon 2020  is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness. Climate-KIC is the largest public-private innovation partnership focused on climate change, consisting of dynamic companies, the best academic institutions and the public sector. 

For the next funding period the Horizon Europe framework programme, beginning in 2021, was set up. This research program will contain of so-called missions. Each mission is a mandate to solve a pressing challenge in society within a certain timeframe and budget. One mission will be on Adaptation to climate change including societal transformation. The target by 2030 is to prepare Europe to deal with climate disruptions, accelerate the transition to a healthy and prosperous future within safe planetary boundaries and scale up solutions for resilience that will trigger transformations in society.

Other EU funds and financing institutions, such as the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, also support adaptation measures. The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is also a key EU funding instrument for targeted infrastructure investment at European level, and adaptation is one of the requirements for assessment of projects.

Other options exist to finance climate change adaptation, including national programmes and financial institutions, using EU ETS auction revenues for financing adaptation, private initiatives, innovative funding initiatives, etc.  

Comprehensive information about funding opportunities for climate change adaptation for urban areas can be found on the Cities website supporting the Urban agenda for the EU initiative. Examples of the use of various funding streams by cities can be found in the EEA report Financing urban adaptation to climate change (2017).

Beyond the direct funding, there are a number of advancement in terms of horizontal mainstreaming, such as climate-proofing of major projects and increased used of green infrastructure solutions (as opposed to grey infrastructures) across different thematic areas.