Bottom-up Climate Adaptation Strategies towards a Sustainable Europe


Knowledge of the benefits and costs of adaptation is sparse, unsystematic and unevenly distributed across sectors and countries. It is challenging to reconcile the bottom-up nature of adaptation with top-down strategic policy making on adaptation. The gap between top-down strategic assessments of costs and benefits and empirical context-sensitive bottom-up analyses are leveraged using novel combinations of models and qualitative analyses. Issues of multilevel, cross sectoral and inter-temporal governance that are presently weakly tackled will be highlighted. Potential conflicts and synergies of adaptation with other important policies will be explored to overcome constraints caused by context-related inertias.

The objectives of BASE are to:

  1. Compile and analyse data and information on adaptation measures and their effectiveness. This includes analysis of social and economic benefits, the costs of adaptation for sectors and the resulting implications for policy making taking into account the most significant and likely impacts. In this way a strong and comprehensive knowledge base integrating the socio-economic and political responses can be built.
  2. Improve, integrate, and develop new methods and tools.
  3. Identify conflicts and synergies of adaptation policies at different levels of policy making with other policies within and between sectors. This entails analysis of environmental, social and economic effects of adaptation responses at the local level and the identification of strategies that improve policy coherence and effectiveness.
  4. Assess the effectiveness and full costs and benefits of adaptation strategies to be undertaken at local, regional and national scales using innovative approaches in selected sectors.
  5. Disseminate findings by sharing the results of the project with policy-makers, practitioners and other stakeholders. BASE seeks to increase awareness of the impacts and costs and benefits of climate adaptation to support the effective implementation of sustainable European and national adaptation strategies.


To address the adaptation challenges facing Europe, BASE applies case studies to better understand facilitators of, and barriers to, adaptation. Over 20 cases have been analysed to cover the diversity of adaptation, simultaneously paying special attention to the need for comparability and generalisation. BASE promotes and strengthens stakeholder participation in adaptation in the case studies, supporting stakeholder involvement through novel participatory and co-design techniques. Successful bottom-up initiatives are studied, and the use of knowledge, two-way learning, the role of other awareness raising methods and tools are explored. BASE supports coherent, multi-level, multi-sector integrated adaptation policies. BASE will provide policy guidelines by integrating lessons from past experiences, case studies, insights provided by modelling and stakeholder participation.

A few examples of the BASE project results are summarized below:

Policy Brief #1: Challenges to planning climate adaptation strategies in Europe.This policy brief overviews these key challenges, highlighting their implications for planning adaptation strategies and measures and pointing to avenues of research that could facilitate enhanced adaptation decision making. Broadly speaking, these challenges, addressed in turn over the following three sections, can be categorised as follows: a) Uncertainties and insufficient knowledge; b) Need to improve assessments; c) Need to improve mainstreaming of adaptation in policy.

Policy Brief #2: Climate Adaptation Strategies in the EU. BASE has through the case studies examined processes for designing, implementing and reviewing adaptation strategies at the national and local level, in the larger context of the EU Adaptation Strategy. Sections 2 and 3 of the report use case studies to examine the processes through which Member States design and implement their NAS’s, and identifies challenges and trends both common and unique. It finds that the EU Adaptation Strategy has influenced these processes, and has the potential to foster mainstreaming of adaptation into all policy sectors, especially early in the policy process. At the same time, several key challenges to designing and implementing NAS's exist, including difficulties dealing with shorter political timeframes and concretely realising mainstreaming of adaptation into all sectors.

Policy Brief #3: Evaluation Criteria for Climate Adaptation. This policy brief presents the BASE Evaluation Criteria for Climate Adaptation (BECCA). BECCA consists of a list of evaluation criteria and some guidance notes on how and when to use them. BECCA was developed on the basis of the existing academic literature and policy documents that address the issue of adaptation evaluation and revised on the basis of feedback from real-world adaptation cases.

Scientific report: Economic evaluation of adaptation options.The report aims to provide guidance and examples for the economic evaluation of adaptation options. It introduces a stepwise approach which is applied in twenty BASE case studies, as well as several tools used within this process. Results from the case studies are described and summarized for each of the steps of the evaluation process and conclusions are drawn regarding a) the results of the evaluation and their transferability and b) the applicability of methods, tools and data sources.

Video: Adapting to Climate Change - An Investigative Report from the BASE Broadcast Studio. BASE has produced a short movie outlining some of the challenges and approaches facing Europe. What is climate change adaptation, and how can we implement it best? In this BASE video, four young reporters from the fictional 'BASE Broadcast Studio' interview a group of ‘adaptation professionals’ from across Europe, including a local policy maker, a practitioner, and an EU policy maker, drawing new insights from their work to learn what we can do to better adapt. By featuring existing initiatives to tackle Climate Change, the video aims at inspiring people and inviting them to take action.

Book: Adapting to Climate Change in Europe: Exploring Sustainable Pathways - From Local Measures to Wider Policies is a scientific synthesis of a four-year project on adaptation activities in Europe. It combines scientific assessments with real-world case descriptions to present specific tools and methods. This book aims at ensuring sustainable solutions in adaptation to climate change. The challenge of adaptation is still at an early stage; this book fills relevant gaps in current knowledge on climate adaptation, providing a crucial set of tools to support effective decision-making. It acts as a guide to practitioners and decision-makers along different steps of on-going adaptation processes. Adapting to Climate Change in Europe contains methods and tools for improving stakeholder’s participation and analyzing costs and benefits of different adaptation measures. It is an essential resource for researchers, graduate students, and experts and policymakers working in climate change and adaptation.

 All BASE results are available via the BASE website.

Aarhus University DK
Ecologic Institute DE
Fundacao da Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa PT
Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change IT
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research DE
The University of Exeter UK
Deltares NL
BC3 Basque Centre for Climate Change ES
Finnish Environment Institute FI
Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research IT
Global Change Research Centre, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic  CZ
University of Leeds UK
Technical University of Madrid  ES
The Danish Board of Technology  DK
University of East Anglia UK