Adaptation to climate change

Climate change is one of the major challenges to the contemporary world. The ‘White Paper on Adapting to Climate Change: Towards a European framework for action’ states that: ‘Addressing climate change requires two types of response. Firstly, and importantly, we must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions  (i.e. take mitigation action) and secondly we must take adaptation action to deal with the unavoidable impacts’. Adaptation to climate change is one of the strategies, which have been undertaken to reduce economic, social and environmental impacts of climate change Adaptation is a process of adjusting to changing climate conditions under the circumstances when we are aware that climate change phenomena will be ever more threatening, regardless the efforts to alleviate their adverse impacts.

What is the adaptation to climate change?

  • A response to climate changes – observed now and projected in the future
  • Applies to both natural and human systems
  • Aims at reducing threats and using potential benefits
  • Is implemented through policies, practice and projects
  • Applies to all decision-making levels in every part of the country, and to almost all sectors
  • Is being developed in anticipation or in the face of the ongoing phenomena
  • Is undertaken by communities or citizens

Adaptation is not about doing more, but about pursuing new ways of thinking and tackling risks and threats, uncertainty and complexity.

Adaptation is balanced:

  • Does not contribute to climate changes, does not limit activities to mitigate these changes
  • Does not infringe the environmental potential to regenerate naturally
  • Is based on natural functions of ecosystems
  • Albeit undertaken in one area or sector, does not limit the possibilities of adaptation in other sectors or areas, or social groups
  • Is being conducted in partnership, identifies and engages all the stakeholders concerned, and is transparent as well


Developing the Knowledge Base

The ‘White Paper – Adapting to climate change: Towards a European framework for action’ states that: ‘To be able to take decisions on how best to adapt, it is essential to have access to reliable data on the likely impact of climate change, the associated socio-economic aspects and the costs and benefits of different adaptation options. More knowledge is needed on climate impact and vulnerability so that appropriate policy responses can be developed’.  

The aim of Klimada 2.0 Project is to establish the knowledge base. Using the expertise gathered during the large scale projects devoted to planning of climate change adaptation, the IEP-NRI (IOS-PIB) will set up the Knowledge Base. The knowledge on adaptation will be successively available online via the Project’s Web Platform. Everyone is invited to use the Platform.

White Paper – Adapting to climate change

White Paper – Adapting to climate change: Towards a European framework for action (COM(2009)147), is the European Commission strategic document, which sets out a EU framework to build resilience to the impacts of climate change. One of the main actions covered by this document is the integration of adaptation into EU key policy areas  , including health and society, agriculture and forestry, biodiversity and ecosystems, water resources and management, coastal zones and marine areas as well as economy sectors. Pursuant to the White Paper, Poland has developed the ‘Polish National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change (NAS2020) with the perspective by 2030’.


The ‘Polish National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change (NAS2020) with the perspective by 2030’ has been developed with a view to ensure the conditions of stable socio-economic development in the face of risks posed by climate change, and also with a view to use the positive effect, which the adaptation actions may have not only on the state of the Polish environment, but also on the economic growth

The NAS2020 indicates the following general principles of adaptation policy:

  • Minimize the vulnerability to risks associated with climate change, by taking account of, inter alia, climate change on the investment planning stage
  • Develop schemes of fast response in the event of climate driven disasters including floods, droughts and heat waves, ensuring that public institutions are prepared to provide immediate assistance to victims
  • Determine priority actions in terms of cost-effectiveness
  • Concentrate first on counteracting the threats to human health and life, as well as on preventing irreversible damage, such as, e.g.: lost cultural goods and rare ecosystems).

The NAS2020 details adaptation actions to enhance resilience to the impacts of climate change in such sectors as: water management, agriculture, public health, energy, construction and transportation. Adaptive actions aim also at the protection of biodiversity and of the particularly vulnerable Poland’s regions, such as: the Baltic coastal zone, the Carpathians and the Sudety Mts. Moreover, actions have been outlined which focus on the urban policy.


A particular vulnerability of cities to climate change impacts was recognized in the NAS2020. The city vulnerability results from a large population density, and is exacerbated by the negative anthropogenic impact on the environment. At the same time, cities and local governments have a key role to play in adaptation. Climate change is a global phenomenon, however, the effects of these changes can be felt mainly on the local level. Cities vary in their exposure to the climate change induced threats, vulnerability to the above phenomena and capacities to undertake adaptive actions. Cities may react differently to the impacts of climate change, while the respective components of the urban environment, including inhabitants and their groups, infrastructure and services sectors, vary in terms of vulnerability to climate change. In addition, each city has its own unique capital, and local governments have their own tools to use in emergency situations.

The Ministry of the Environment, while implementing the adaptation policy outlined in the NAS2020 (SPA2020) undertook a Project to develop plans for adapting to climate change in cities with population over 100,000 (MPA). 44 of the largest Polish cities have been participating as the Project partners. The main aim of the Project was to assess the city vulnerability to climate change, and then to plan adaptation actions, and to develop strategic documents which would assist in increasing urban resilience to climate change in each city. The Urban Adaptation Plans (MPA) were ready at the end of 2018.

The Institute of Environmental Protection – National Research Institute (IEP-NRI – IOŚ-PIB) was leading the consortium which implemented the Project. The Project was co-financed by the European Union from the budget of the Cohesion Fund, under the Operational Program: Infrastructure and Environment, and by the State budget.  

Not only big cities

In 2017, the Institute of Environmental Protection – National Research Institute IEP-NRI (IOŚ-PIB) completed the Project on Climate change adaptation in small and medium size Cities (ClimCities). The aim of this Project was to develop adaptation strategies to climate change in five cities: Bełchatów, Nowy Sącz, Ostrołęka, Siedlce and Tomaszów Mazowiecki. These five strategies were the first urban strategy documents in Poland, dedicated to adaptation to climate change. The Project was co-financed from the EEA Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 under the Bilateral Cooperation Fund. The Project was conducted by the Institute in cooperation with the Norwegian partner: Vista Analyse, based on the agreement with the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management.

Risk Analysis

Risks of climate change impacts on economy, society and the environment will be asessed within the Project framework. The risk assessment provides results in the form of risk maps for sectors and climatic factors, which affect the sectors under analysis. The risk assessment method adopted will be explained by the IEP-NRI experts. (More)