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Climate resilience of European coastal cities and settlements

Actions should capitalise on past and current initiatives and knowledge including associated uncertainty, to improve the integrated spatial planning, management and adaptation of Europe's coastal cities and settlements. They should provide scientific insight, tools, methodologies and innovative solutions to assist European coastal cities in developing their own coastal resilience plans and management and dynamic adaptation pathways (i.e. protect, accommodate, or retreat options), at spatial and temporal scales most relevant to their specific needs and context, to address the risks associated to climate change with emphasis to exposure to sea-level rise, while understanding the cascading effects and impacts on other sectors (e.g. water, energy, food, land use, etc.). Actions should use state-of-the-art predictions of the rate and extent of sea-level changes on time scales of years to decades to identify urban coastal areas at risk of flooding and erosion. The assessment and mapping of coastal exposure and vulnerability to sea-level rise should also consider low probability high impact scenarios (H++). Proposals should make use of existing Coastal Risk Assessment Frameworks, including socio-economic considerations, and informative tools for multi-hazard assessment.

As part of the proposed work, actions should develop a methodology for a thorough assessment of the robustness and effectiveness of protective structures measures and governance structures. They should come up with sound methodologies and guidance for the elaboration of resilience plans for vulnerable urban areas implementing, as appropriate, ecosystem-based approaches (e.g. Nature-Based Solutions, landscape planning) along with hybrid and traditional engineering approaches as part of a broader strategy. This includes the design of monitoring plans to detect signals for implementation and/or reassessment of the coastal plan. On the basis of an in-depth literature review and additional studies as appropriate, comparison of economic, social, cultural and environmental impacts (e.g. costs and benefits) of ecosystem-based approaches with the ones of traditional technical approaches should be undertaken, considering security aspects, cost-effectiveness, adaptability to changes and avoidance of undesirable lock-in effects. Actions should develop tools, methodologies and guidelines to assist decision making in selecting optimal mix of protection measures (ecosystem-based, hybrid, and traditional engineering) enhancing resilience for the diverse coastal contexts in Europe.

Action may include pilot studies comprising ""front-runner"" cities and territories advanced in the elaboration and implementation of coastal adaptation and resilience plans mentoring ""follower"" cities not so advanced in this process to enhance the potential for replication and up-taking of the outcomes and hence impact of the action.

Actions should envisage clustering activities with other relevant ongoing and future actions (e.g. LC-CLA-12-2020), relevant projects funded under previous and current H2020 Work Programmes for cross-projects co-operation, consultations and joint activities on cross-cutting issues and share of results as well as participating in joint meetings and communication events. To this end, proposals should foresee a dedicated work package and /or task and earmark the appropriate resources accordingly. They should make use and contribute to knowledge exchange and networking European platforms (e.g. Climate-ADAPT, ThinkNature, OPPLA).

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Extreme high coastal water levels have increased at most locations along the European coastline. This increase appears to be predominantly due to increases in baseline mean local sea level rather than to changes in storm activity (IPCC 5th Assessment Report). According to recent studies, a 30 cm sea level rise by the end of the 21st century, in the absence of adaptation measures, would more than triple annual damages from coastal floods in the EU, from EUR 5 to 17 billion. Robust adaptation measures need to be undertaken in coastal and low-lying areas to protect them from increasing climate and sea level rise risks, including coastal erosion. Uncertainty of regional and local projections and lack of sustainable finance, public-private cooperation and knowledge and evidence-base have prevented authorities to take appropriate actions to prevent or mitigate coastal disasters. Filling these knowledge and innovation gaps will allow for the design and implementation of long term adaptation planning and cost-effective measures within an integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) framework to enhance the overall resilience of coastal cities[[For the purposes of this topic, the definition of a 'city' is to be understood according to the harmonised definition of a city established by the OECD and the European Commission, which can be found at:]] and settlements.

The project results are expected to contribute to:

  • improved decision-making on suitable adaptation options and coastal management strategies, in view of demographic, water supply, climate and land use changes on the basis of adaptation measures for specific local vulnerabilities, urban contexts and sectors in Europe and an assessment of coastal ecosystem services, adaptation costs and benefits,;
  • strengthened coastal adaptation network between scientists, engineers, policy-makers, stakeholders and the general public;
  • improved integrated spatial management and adaptation of Europe's coastlines;
  • the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Water Framework Directive, the Flood Directive, the Natura and Habitats Directives and the Biodiversity Strategy, and EU Climate Change Adaptation Strategy;
  • underpinning of Integrated Coastal Zone Management and multi-level governance.