Non-state actors adopted a joint declaration in support of adaptation to climate change as part of the Belgian presidency of the EU Council in Liège on Thursday and Friday (8-9 February).
NGOs, local governments sign declaration calling on EU to up climate adaptation efforts

The 2024 edition of the Climate Chance Europe Summit saw businesses, researchers, civil society and local governments meet in Liège to discuss the future of the European Green Deal, focusing on adaptation, nature-based solutions and resilience.

The Liège Declaration was signed by 70 organisations and networks, including Climate Alliance, CAN Europe, ICLEI Europe for local and regional authorities, CEMR for local elected representatives and CANOPEA, the federation of environmental associations in Wallonia.

In their view, the best adaptation policy mostly involves reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with their statement stressing that the costs of taking no action will always be higher than the costs of taking action.

“We cannot separate adaptation and mitigation, and the two must be designed to complement each other and be much more ambitious than has been the case to date,” Belgian climatologist Jean-Pascal Van Ypersele told Euractiv in an interview.

As for the Liège Declaration, it stresses the importance of a holistic approach based on the most up-to-date scientific findings on climate while calling for the Green Deal’s initial ambitions to be maintained.

“I think that [the Declaration] is a reminder of the need to work together and to break out of silos, to work together across borders, across borders between disciplines, between ministries, between administrations and between regions, because neither water nor the atmosphere knows borders,” Van Ypersele, who led the summit’s talks, added.

The text also reiterates that adaptation policies cannot be implemented without regard for vulnerable populations, the first victims of global warming.

The importance of setting up an insurance system that preserves equality between citizens and territories was also highlighted in the text.

A roadmap for the EU

The declaration calls on all EU-level decision-makers to speed up the implementation of adaptation policies and make them “a key priority in the development of future policies”.

Speaking to Euractiv, Loire-Atlantique Senator and President of the Climate Chance association Ronan Dantec said: “This declaration is a roadmap, which we will then send to the European Union. It’s the first time we’ve had such a major summit devoted to adaptation”.

Indeed, the declaration calls on the European Commission to “update and increase the ambition of its policies beyond its 2021 adaptation strategy, addressing the vulnerabilities and policy needs identified by the European Environment Agency (EEA), and linking climate adaptation considerations to the broader context of regional resilience”.

The aim is, therefore, to update the EU strategy for adaptation to climate change, which was adopted in 2021.

In particular, the declaration calls for the implementation of the Green Deal to halt biodiversity loss and limit resource use; the integration of adaptation at all levels of governance, especially in the agriculture, industry, energy and transport sectors; and the allocation of some European Union funding and new resources to nature-based solutions.

“We’re now giving the European Parliament, the Commission, the member states and the players involved the guidelines, and we’ll be watching to see how it all develops,” Dantec adds.

For the 1000 or so summit participants, the only way to address adaptation issues is through a local and regional approach, as it would be the only way to take into account the diversity of vulnerabilities and their endemic nature.

The Liège Declaration also calls for the launch and implementation of new international climate negotiations in order to set what it calls a “new collective goal for climate finance”.



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