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Outlook on climate change adaptation in the Western Balkan mountains (2016)

Description

The Western Balkans is a mountainous region and a hotspot of climate change. Overall, climatic extremes are projected to become more common, including a significant increase in the number of extreme heat events. Heavier precipitation events are expected in the winter months, whilst summers are projected to become even drier. Mountain-specific climate hazards include reduced snow cover (up to 50 days less by 2050 across the Dinaric Arc); increasing occurrence of winter and spring flooding from intense precipitation and accelerated snowmelt; increases in the frequency and intensity of wildfires; heavy snow precipitation and cold extremes; the appearance of new disease vectors; and decreasing annual river discharge and low flow periods. Many of these impacts are not only a future issue, but also a present-day concern.

In the absence of adequate adaptation measures, key risks for the region arising from these hazards include economic and livelihood losses, increased mortality and morbidity, decreased public safety, impaired ecosystem functioning and the loss of species, and decreased energy security through water scarcity.

This assessment has analysed existing sectoral policies to the extent to which they can address the most pressing climate changerelated risks, and whether they generate positive effects for the socio-economic system and local communities. Gaps exist for most of the key climate risks identified. The most common gaps include inadequate policy coverage at different scales (e.g. regional, national and local); a lack of institutional coordination (including mechanisms) across sectors; a lack of or limited vertical integration from the EU to local administrations; and limited or low financial capacities to finance adaptation measures. In some cases, no policies exist to address existing or future risks.

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