The European Union chooses the Basque Country as a referential region in adaptation and resilience against climate change


The Basque Country will be a model and example to help European regions prepare for the inevitable changes and extreme phenomena, and will share experiences and solutions to prevent the loss of lives and livelihoods.

The Basque Country has been one of the regions chosen to become part of the EU Mission for Adaptation to Climate Change. The European Commission has announced in Brussels the list of the first regions chosen to fulfil this mission. This designation acknowledges that the Basque Country is prepared to be a reference and share with other European regions its experience, and confirms that it is a committed region fully convinced of the climate emergency challenge that we all face as a society.

Europe seeks to turn the urgent challenge of climate change into an opportunity to achieve a resilient, fair society, prepared for climate disruptions, extreme weather conditions, forest fires and infectious diseases. The Basque Country will help European regions prepare for the inevitable changes and extreme phenomena, and will share experiences and solutions to prevent the loss of lives and livelihoods.

Missions, Horizon Europe Programme

The European Union, within the framework of the Horizon Europe innovation and research programme, has defined different Missions to share and coordinate the necessary resources in terms of programmes, policies and financing regulations, as well as other activities to achieve its objectives. The missions are a new and ambitious instrument of the EU to face the following challenges:

  1. Adaptation to Climate Change: to support European regions and communities towards climate resilience by 2030.
  2. Cancer: to improving the lives of more than three million people by 2030 through prevention, cure and for those affected by cancer including their families, to live longer and better.
  3. Restore our oceans and waters by 2030.
  4. One hundred Climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030.
  5. Soil Deal for Europe: 100 living labs and lighthouses to lead the transition towards healthy soils by 2030.

The EU's mission, by their own nature, support innovation and change. In particular, as regards technological innovation, they will include activities that belong to a wide range of technological preparation levels along with other types of complementary measures, such as the adoption of new standards or regulations, or the development of new policy instruments to correct the market's deficiencies. The EU's missions will attract funding and private investments towards existing innovative markets, but will also promote the creation of new markets for sustainable European growth, improving the everyday lives of Europeans.

The missions are designed to contribute towards the Commission’s key political priorities, such as the European Green Deal, A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, the European Health Union, An Economy that Works for People and the New European Bauhaus. For example, the mission on climate is already a specific element of the new climate change adaptation strategy, while the mission on cancer is part of Europe's Beating Cancer Plan, and the mission on soil is part of the initiative concerning the long-term vision for rural areas.

Within this context the Basque Country has been selected as an advanced region and a reference in the field of adaptation to climate change, with a comprehensive diagnosis of vulnerability and risk, nature-based adaptation measures already implemented and many other ongoing actions.

Adaptation to Climate Change Mission

As one of the regions selected, in the coming months the Basque Country must formalise this commitment with the European Commission, which will require a working plan and associated investments.

The objective of the Adaptation Mission is to support at least 150 European regions to achieve climate resilience by 2030. For this purpose it will offer the Basque Country financial resources to achieve its goals through the Horizon Europe Programme, the European Structural and Investment Funds, the Just Transition Fund and other financial instruments. The Horizon Europe programme will provide an initial fund of €368.3 million over the 2021-2023 period to support the fulfilment of the Mission, which will start working with 60-100 regions over this period (2021-2023), and which another 50-100 regions can adhere to later.

The Basque Country, as a demonstration region, has already submitted a project proposal alongside another 11 European regions to the HORIZON-MISS-2021-CLIMA-02-04 call, which seeks to demonstrate and validate innovative climate resilience solutions. The Basque Country's main objective within the project's framework is to implement adaptation measures for the recovery and restoration of estuaries that can be used as an example for less advanced regions, as well as mobilising and structuring the participation of public and private agents in the Basque Country for adaptation to climate change.

The Adaptation Mission seeks to produce policies related to climate change adaptation and sets 3 specific objectives:

  1. To prepare for climate resilience, giving regions support so that they can know more about its impacts and be better prepared.
  2. To accelerate the transformation towards climate resilience, giving support to regions undergoing processes innovative of co-creation, roadmap development and solution testing.
  3. To implement the systematic transformation towards climate resilience in at least 75 large-scale demonstration projects.

By adhering to the Adaptation to Climate Change Mission, regions will become part of a community of practice in the field of adaptation to climate change that will give them the opportunity to work in a network and share knowledge and experience with other European regions and communities.

Candidacy and selection of the Basque Country as a referential region

The Basque Country, which has been working in the field of climate action since it approved the Basque Sustainable Development Strategy in 2002, submitted its candidacy to the Adaptation Mission by making a compilation of its extensive track record in the field of adaptation.

The document submitted for the candidacy is an exhaustive review of the Basque Country’s journey in terms of adaptation, from the approval of the above-mentioned Strategy to the draft Basque Law on Energy Transition and Climate Change going through the preparation phase. Among the most relevant milestones along this journey, a special mention should be given to the Basque Climate Change Strategy, KLIMA 2050, and the LIFE Urban Klima 2050 project for its deployment, which are enabling the Basque Country to make progress with a clear roadmap on the path of adaptation.

As a result of this political and strategic progress, many tools, viewers, documents, guides and good practices have been created that enable the different stakeholders involved (universities, municipalities, research centres and citizens themselves) to continue advancing in adaptation to climate change and making the Basque Country a referential region.

Among these instruments we should highlight several viewers: for climate change scenarios, vulnerability and risk of municipalities facing the effects of climate change, or the Kostaegoki viewer to visualise the impact of rising sea levels on the coast. Also significant are the urban planning guides and Natural Solutions, where the Basque Country has extensive experience.

Lastly, the candidacy has highlighted in the field of climate governance the Basque Country's capacity for orchestration in order to coordinate the stakeholders involved and the resources available that are key to make the Basque Country an advanced region and a reference in the field of climate change adaptation. Thus, society, the administrations through the committed network of local authorities Udalsarea 2030, the Basque Network of Sustainable Municipalities and referential knowledge agents at European and international level, such as the University of the Basque Country and BRTA, all supported by different funding programmes and under the coordination of the Basque Government, have made it possible to promote innovative and transferable projects for evidence-based learning and to follow a continuous improvement and adaptation process.