Joint press release by ELY centre and Luke (26.8.2021)

Northern countries have developed effective practices to proactively adapt to climate impacts

 A new report maps out the good practices in adaptation governance and policies of Arctic and Baltic sea region countries. In addition to climate change mitigation, proactive and planned adaptation to climate change is vital for reducing climate-induced risks.

A recent report on adaptation work and policies in the Baltic Sea and Arctic countries offers tools for decision-makers to prepare for many of the threats addressed in the IPCC’s recent 6th Assessment Report.

The objective of this study was to collect and synthesize information about climate adaptation policy and governance in the Baltic Sea and Arctic regions. In addition to Finland, the report covers the following countries and territories: Sweden, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Norway, Iceland, Germany, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, Belarus, Canada and the United States. The report also describes the best practices from different countries that Finland could learn from and gives recommendations.

The report shows that around the Northern Hemisphere there are many countries that have developed a broad range of well-functioning practices for climate change adaptation. There is no need to re-invent the wheel: by learning from other countries’ experiences, Finland and other countries can adopt faster, more efficient and less expensive adaptation measures.

“For example, in Denmark, Germany and Norway, municipalities or regions are systematically offered training on climate change, which helps with the implementation of local adaptation actions”, says Research Director Kati Berninger.

Different stages of and approaches to adaptation governance between countries

Broadly speaking, Nordic countries and those countries that started adaptation work early have more advanced adaptation policies and governance. For instance, Finland was the first to adopt a national climate adaptation policy in 2005. The countries and territories in the study show both similarities and differences in approaches. Five have both a national adaptation strategy and plan, two have only a strategy, and two have only a plan, while five do not have such a document yet. Some countries have integrated both mitigation and adaptation in the same strategy.

On sectoral adaptation work, the approach differs between countries from mandatory sectoral action plans to no separate sectoral adaptation documents at all. The most common approach in regional and local adaptation work is that subnational adaptation strategies are voluntary, but they are supported by projects. However, regional or local adaptation plans are obligatory in some countries.

The biggest challenges in adaptation policy cluster around three issues: the need to improve awareness and political priority of adaptation; challenges in coordination across sectors and levels; as well as lack of funding or human resources dedicated for adaptation. The recommendations listed in the report include taking an initiative to formulate a joint Nordic climate adaptation policy, setting up a master’s programme on adaptation, setting up a Climate Adaptation Leaders’ Forum, and requiring municipalities to prepare climate adaptation plans.

The report has been commissioned by two projects funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland from funding allocated for cooperation in the Baltic Sea, Barents and Arctic regions (IBA funds): the “Climate resilience with Baltic Sea co-operation – Flood and Drought Risk Management” project of the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment of Southwest Finland, and the “Arctic Network for Climate Adaptation and Food Security (ACAF)” project of the Natural Resources Institute Finland.

Publishing webinar 8 September 2021 at 1011 a.m. EEST on Zoom

The publishing webinar is open to all. The language of the webinar is English.

Registration by 6 September 2021: (closed)


Opening speech: Finland´s Ambassador for Baltic Sea Affairs at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland Helena Tuuri

Research Director Kati Berninger, Tyrsky Consulting: Key outcomes and recommendations (Download the presentation slides here as pdf)

Comment talks:

Research professor Seija Tuulentie, Natural Resources Institute Finland

Finland’s Ambassador for Barents and Northern Dimension at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland Jari Vilén

Policy Officer Valdur Lahtvee, Council of Baltic Sea States




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