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One decade of climate change adaptation in the Baltic Sea Region

On the 18th and 19th of January 2012, the 3rd International BaltCICA Conference 'Climate Change Adaptation in Practice' took place in Helsinki, Finland. It was the final event of the BaltCICA project (Climate Change: Impacts, Costs and Adaptation in the Baltic Sea Region) after three years of transnational cooperation. It was also a milestone for climate change adaptation work in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) after three consecutive INTERREG projects that dealt with the topic: SEAREG (2002-2005), ASTRA (2005-2007) and BaltCICA (2009-2012). Led by the Geological Survey of Finland, all three projects brought together diverse partners from the BSR countries to cooperate on climate change adaptation and to facilitate capacity building, exchange and transnational learning.

Nordregio became involved in the BaltCICA project in 2009. As a research partner, we offered support to case study partners, investigated governance related issues that were present in their adaptation processes and studied how transnational learning occurred among them. Further, when the EU launched the Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) in 2009; Nordregio looked into the strategic action for a macro-regional climate change adaptation strategy as called for in the Action Plan.

At the conference, with more than 100 interested participants from the BSR and beyond, I gave a presentation about different patterns of transnational learning on climate change adaptation. I showed that the BaltCICA case study partners were able to learn from each and that transnational cooperation - inherent to INTERREG projects - is of the utmost importance for engaged individuals and institutions working with climate change adaptation in the region.

I found that the SEAREG, ASTRA and BaltCICA projects surely supported regions and municipalities throughout the BSR to adapt to a changing climate. The numerous presentations and lively discussions reflected current knowledge, experience and networking among practitioners and researchers engaged in climate change adaptation in the BSR.

The project outcomes have already had an influence on EU policies (e.g. the EU White Paper on adaptation) previously. Looking at the adaptation processes pursued at the local and regional levels, and especially the pan-Baltic cooperation network established during the last ten years, the BSR appears well-placed for a possible macro-regional climate change adaptation strategy as proposed by the EUSBSR.

Stefanie Lange Scherbenske

Research Fellow