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Better prepared regional and local authorities to adapt to climate change

This action should provide services to support regional and local authorities in their preparation to meet the current requirements of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism legislation, and the foreseen adaptation objectives in the Climate Law, underpinning the new EU strategy on adaptation to climate change in terms of research and innovation, data and knowledge, and capacity and skills.

Furthermore, this action should take stock of past, ongoing and future activities related to climate change adaptation, including innovative approaches to climate adaptation plans to implement a mix of solutions – based on technological, non-technological, and social innovations – and to explore transformative pathways. This would give an indication of best practices and solutions already available, gaps and barriers to address climate change adaptation in a more holistic matter; as well as options for transformative and innovative approaches.

In particular, the action should help regional and local authorities to:

  1. better understand their climate risks, solutions available to mitigate such risks and ways to achieve climate resilience, including by some of the following activities:
    1. facilitating access to services specific to climate risk assessments at regional and/or local level, focusing on particularly vulnerable regions;
    2. assisting in the elaboration of climate risk management plans, including provisions for their monitoring and evaluation;
    3. providing a tailor-made overview of potential technological, non-technological, and social solutions – in particular breakthroughs, disruptive and radically new innovations – (which includes their effectiveness, inclusiveness, costs and benefits) and establishing close synergies with the Horizon 2020 European Green Deal call, in particular the topic on Climate-resilient Innovation Packages for EU regions (LC-GD-1-3-2020), and the topic on developing end-user products and services for all stakeholders and citizens supporting climate adaptation and mitigation (LC-GD-9-2-2020), as well as drawing on the results from relevant projects from Horizon 2020 and the LIFE Programme;
    4. identifying and mapping of priority research and innovation areas where gaps exist;
    5. facilitating a process designed to co-develop a vision of what a transformation towards climate resilience might mean in their regional and/or local context taking a systems approach (key community systems and enabling conditions), and including an analysis of levers, barriers and tipping points for transformation;
    6. jointly (consortium participants, regional/local authorities and relevant stakeholders) assess adaptation capacity, behavioural insights, changes in social practices, skills and conditions (e.g. framework, governance, finance) needed to undergo a transformation towards climate resilience, with the objective to develop a self-assessment tool available to those authorities that are not able to receive the services from the consortium.
  2. establish approaches and processes that enable co-design , co-development, and co-implementation with citizens and stakeholders (including academia, industry, social partners, public authorities and regulatory agencies) in line with the recently adopted Climate Pact[[COM(2020) 788]], through some of the following activities:
    1. cross-fertilisation of cutting-edge science on climate change impacts and risks that is locally/regionally relevant and comprehensible;
    2. fostering co-production of data at local level and knowledge and co-design of climate services to support a transformation towards climate resilience;
    3. supporting the implementation of citizen science, citizen observatories, social innovation and other means of joint knowledge gathering and monitoring to support a transformation towards climate resilience (e.g. the projects on air quality[[https://www.eea.europa.eu/highlights/citizen-science-on-air-quality]]);
    4. assisting regional and local communities in the preparation of large-scale living labs[[User-centred, open innovation ecosystems based on a systematic user co-creation approach integrating research and innovation processes in real life communities and settings.]] for the development and testing of transformative inclusive solutions towards climate resilience (exploring synergies with living labs foreseen in relevant Horizon Europe partnerships);
    5. facilitating the establishment of inclusive and deliberative governance processes supporting just transitions;
  3. map and facilitate synergies by identifying funding and financing opportunities for the creation of important R&I-related enabling conditions in support of reaching climate resilience, including in the context of establishing close synergies with the preparatory action on Coordination of complementary actions for missions in this Work Programme, (topic HORIZON-MISS-2021-COOR-01):
    1. Data and operational climate services, including National Meteorological Services, Copernicus Climate Change Service, and Copernicus Emergency Management, Horizon 2020 and Europe relevant projects, as well as relevant action of GEOSS (Global Earth Observation System of Systems);
    2. the region-specific smart specialization strategies (ERDF/CF PO1) and regional operational programmes for Strategic Objective 2;
    3. the Digital Europe Programme, in particular the digital twin on climate change adaptation;
    4. the skills agenda and the European Social Fund (ESF+) to create the needed capacities and skills;
    5. Horizon Europe instruments, including those of bottom-up nature like the European Research Council or the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, and its partnerships and missions;
    6. other relevant EU, national and or regional programmes and instruments (e.g. Just Transition Fund, Recovery and Resilience Facility, European Structural and Investment Funds, Erasmus+ programme, European Solidarity Corps, Invest EU, and relevant financing by the European Investment Bank).

Actions should address all the three main objectives under the scope, tackling some of the specific outcomes (sub-bullets under the three main objectives). Therefore, the consortium[[Possible participants: experts from a variety of sectors (private, public, academia) with experience on the services to be provided by the topic. National, regional or local authorities could also be part of the consortium if they possess the expertise required to deliver the services outlined in the topic. ]] should possess the expertise necessary to successfully deliver on the three main objectives. Regional and local authorities are not expected to be consortium participants, but to receive services from the consortium; in other words, they are the target groups of the project’s activities.

The services covered by this topic should be accessible to as many regional and local authorities as possible. The consortium is expected to accompany the authorities and relevant stakeholders through the delivery of the services needed and to the achievement of clear outcomes. Priority should be given to regions or locations with the high vulnerability[[Vulnerability is the propensity or predisposition to be adversely affected. Vulnerability encompasses a variety of concepts and elements including sensitivity or susceptibility to harm and lack of capacity to cope and adapt (IPCC, 2018 – SR Global Warming of 1.5 ºC).]], limited resources and/or low adaptive capacity[[Adaptive capacity is the ability of systems, institutions, humans and other organisms to adjust to potential damage, to take advantage of opportunities, or to respond to consequences (IPCC, 2018 – SR Global Warming of 1.5 ºC).]] to climate change impacts. Demand could be higher than what can be supplied within the limits of this action, therefore proposals should include criteria for how to identify the regional and local authorities most in need of these services. These criteria will ensure that a variety of locations are represented, in as many countries as possible, reflecting the diversity in climatic risks in Europe, as well as differences in socio-economic and demographic conditions, and in approaches to mitigating such risks. Such criteria should also take into account the characteristics of the populations concerned and the vulnerability of the locations in order to subsequently understand the effectiveness of the services provided by the consortium.

The project is expected to have a duration of three years. Early in the project the consortium should define a list of regional and local authorities that would benefit from the project’s activities. By the end of the project, the consortium should propose a strategy to maintain the services offered through a platform, entity or partnership with relevant organisations.

Consortium participants should establish synergies with relevant projects funded under this Work Programme as well those originating from Horizon 2020, in particular the Green Deal Call (topics in area 1, as well as LC-GD-9-2-2020 and LC-GD-10-1-2020), should be explored and established during the course of the project. In particular, projects resulting from the calls mentioned above, as well as from Cluster 3 on Disaster Resilient Societies should be foreseen, Cluster 5 on Climate, Energy and Mobility, and Cluster 6 on Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment. In addition, the consortium should draw, when appropriate, upon the capabilities, expertise and data available at the Joint Research Centre in the area of Smart Specialization and urban sustainable development strategies, and the European Environment Agency through the European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT), the European Topic Centre on Adaptation and the EIONET network of Member States.

The possible participation of the JRC in the project will consist of connecting to the regions, local communities and cities, which in their smart specialisation / local-urban development strategies are interested in the priority themes relevant for the mission.