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The Adaptation Support Tool – Getting started

The aim of the Adaptation Support Tool (AST) is to assist policy makers and coordinators on the national level in developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating climate change adaptation strategies and plans. The AST was developed as a practical guidance tool for national level actors for all steps needed to develop, implement, monitor and evaluate a national adaptation strategy. It also supports sub-national actors and trans-national actors to prepare for, develop, implement and monitor and evaluate adaptation strategies. It refers to relevant resources and dedicated tools in climate change adaptation (CCA).

In 2013 the European Commission issued the EU guidelines on developing adaptation strategies as a component of the EU strategy on adaptation to climate change, with the aim to support EU Member States (MS) in the process of developing, implementing and reviewing their adaptation strategies. They provide a common understanding of key features relevant to adaptation policy processes, building on the experience available in the EU. The steps and recommendations of the Adaptation Support Tool are aligned with the contents of these guidelines and further improved based on the most recent information and knowledge available, including the experiences of EU Member States with adaptation policy making and insights provided by more recent EU research and innovation projects.

Since the EU guidelines on developing adaptation strategies were issued, EU MS have progressed and the status quo of climate change adaptation (CCA) policy processes in countries has changed since the first publication of the AST. For example, since May 2020, all countries have a national adaptation strategy and many have an adaptation action plan in place (see Overview of EEA member countries with national adaptation strategies and adaptation plans). Some countries have already traversed a complete adaptation policy cycle, including Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) and revision(s) of national policies.

Also the role and purpose of the AST has changed over time, reflecting on the context, namely more guidance for advancing, improving and updating national adaptation strategies and policies; more focus on implementation and M&E; and raised importance of cross-sector and multi-level governance issues as implementation progresses to more local levels.

The AST is based on the adaptation policy cycle, which is a valuable analytical tool, but in practice, steps may tend to overlap and intermit. Since climate change adaptation (CCA) is not a strictly sequential, linear process and countries may be in very different stages of the process, the AST needs to provide guidance in an iterative process that will help ensure decisions are based on up-to-date data and knowledge. An integral part of this iterative process is the monitoring of implementation progress and effectiveness of measures, their evaluation and the revision of policies. In its design, the Adaptation Support Tool borrows from the UKCIP Adaptation Wizard and various risk assessment frameworks.

Specific guidance, tools and further information sources for adaptation in cities and the urban context are provided in the Urban Adaptation Support Tool.