Country profiles

Austria

 

 

 

The sources used to compile the health and adaptation information for country profiles vary across countries. For EU Member States, information is based on their official adaptation reporting: 2021 adaptation reporting under the Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action (see EU Adaptation ReportingClimate-ADAPT Country Profiles) and 2019 adaptation reporting under the EU Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Mechanism Regulation. These two reporting mechanisms are together referred to here as “EU official reporting on adaptation”. Note: The relevant information has been copied from the EU official reporting on adaptation (submitted until July 21, 2021), without further elaborating the contents of the text. Some information, valid at the time of reporting, may no longer be valid today. Any necessary additions to the text are clearly highlighted. 

In addition, information collated in the Adaptation preparedness scoreboard country fiches (2018) and the WHO study on Public health and climate change adaptation policies in the European Union (2018) are presented. Note: Some information, valid at the time of publication, may no longer be valid today. Any necessary additions to the text are clearly highlighted.

Information sources for non-EU member countries of the EEA are more limited. 

 

Information from EU official reporting on adaptation. GovReg reporting (2021), MMR reporting (2019)

The Austrian National Adaptation Strategy (NAS, 2017) contains a qualitative vulnerability assessment for nine sectors, including the health sector

The national adaptation plan (NAP) was revised in 2016 and presents a catalogue of 135 adaptation options for 14 areas of action. Health is one of the fields of action. Adaptation measures should involve no social downsides; rather, they should minimize risks to democracy, health, security, and social justice.

Adaptation measures recommended are:

  • General public relations and specific work on preparing for extreme events or outbreaks of infectious diseases
  • Dealing with heat and drought
  • Dealing with floods, mudslides, avalanches, landslides and rock falls
  • Advancement of knowledge and preparation for handling pathogens/infectious diseases
  • Risk management with regard to the spread of allergenic and toxic species
  • Dealing with pollutants and ultraviolet radiation
  • Linking in and further development of monitoring and early warning systems
  • Incorporation of climate-relevant topics in the training and further education of doctors and personnel in medical, therapeutic, and diagnostic health professions (MTDG)

The integration of adaptation into sectoral policies and programmes, and thus mainstreaming, is increasing, with practical examples from the health sector, e.g., heat guides:

  • Guidebook: Protection against heat in houses and flats. The guidebook presents measures that can be used to achieve energy-efficient protection against heat.
  • Tips against heat by Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) including heat telephone and videos on proper nutrition in heat and food safety in summer.
  • Guideline Heat Action Plan – For medical and care facilities to create their own heat action plans: The guideline is aimed at institutionalised care areas of the most vulnerable population groups and those responsible for hospitals, nursing and care facilities. With recommendations for short- to medium-term and acute measures, it supports organisations in developing and establishing their own heat plans.

The Austrian assessment report of 2014 contains a vulnerability assessment and a section discussing the impact of climate change on health. It was followed up by the first special report (ASR18), which addressed health, demography and climate change, and was published in September 2018 (see WHO case-study below).

Information from Adaptation preparedness scoreboard. Country fiches (2018)

Institutional barriers and lack of political momentum currently hinder the implementation of cornerstone policies that include adaptation measures at sectoral level (e.g., in health and transport).

Several recommendations proposed under relevant sectors (including the health sector) in the NAP involve the insurance sector and refer to it as a key actor.

Information from WHO Publication. Public health and climate change adaptation policies in the European Union (2018)

Austria is among those countries that have developed national climate change vulnerability, impact and adaptation assessments. It has developed strategic frameworks and action plans for health-focused climate change adaptation. National policies (strategies or plans) on health and climate change have also been developed. Key policies and strategies reflect climate change and health considerations.

Several health assessments have been conducted as part of the NAS, covering hazards, such as heat risks, vector spread potential and allergenic pollens.

In 2012, the health targets for Austria were approved by the Federal Health Commission of Austria and the Austrian Council of Ministers. The overall objective was to improve the health of all people living in the country, irrespective of their level of education, income or situation in life. One specific health target deals with "securing sustainable natural resources such as air, water and soil and healthy environments for future generations" and discusses climate change adaptation. 

A national mosquito surveillance system has been implemented with integrated cooperation between government agencies, human and veterinarian health institutions, the national reference laboratory and blood donor system. Surveillance of vector-borne infections is included, in addition to climatic and environmental aspects relevant to their spread and continuous monitoring of the circulation of etiologic agents.

WHO case studies from publication. Public health and climate change adaptation policies in the European Union (2018)

Operation of the national heat protection plan

An Austrian heat protection plan was prepared and put into action in 2017, led by the Ministry of Health and Women’s Affairs. Government institutions at the national and regional levels were involved in its elaboration and worked together, taking on various roles during different stages of the plan’s operation. Other actors involved included health professionals, hospitals and other emergency staff. The plan gives meteorological baseline information for heat warnings, provided by the National Meteorological Service. The Ministry of Health and Women’s Affairs sets out information about heat warnings on its website and provides and promotes precautionary measures to citizens. The provinces communicate specific information to organisations (such as homes for elderly people, nursing homes, hospitals and nursery schools) as early as possible.

Health, demography and climate change

A special report (2018), compiled by the Austrian Panel on Climate Change, assesses the complex interrelations between health, demography and climate change. The report was developed to deliver a legitimate basis for decision-making in science, administration and politics. It highlights opportunities to combine climate and health policies and to increase preparedness and resilience with anticipatory rather than responsive action. The health co-benefits of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures are particularly promising. The report supports policy design to improve population health status now and in the future.

Resources in the Observatory catalogue on Austria