The pilot action ‘Climate change adaptation and resilience through landscape transition’ presents two experimental approaches towards the integration of climate change adaptation, territorial resilience and environmental risk management into strategies of local development and spatial planning: the Portuguese ‘Landscape Planning and Management Programme (PRGP) of the Serras of Monchique and Silves’ and the Croatian ‘Vulnerability analysis of the coastal area of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County due to sea level rise’ case studies.
In recent years, Portugal suffered major rural fires that severely affected rural areas already subjected to socio-demographic and economic decline processes, while in Croatia, rising sea levels pose both environmental and economic threats, with predictions indicating that the Adriatic Sea may rise between 32cm to 65cm until the end of the 21st century. In both cases, intersectoral approaches were driven by a need to successfully implement an overarching climate change adaptation framework capable of cutting across all levels of development policy and integrating all local stakeholders of the appropriate networks of governance. In effect, both strategies combined a concern with providing solutions for the short-term needs of the population with a consideration for the longer-term horizon implemented into the policy vision.
Underlining the importance of place-based policies for territorial cohesion, the pilot action focused on integrating climate change adaptation and environmental, social and economic resilience through spatial planning, in order to decrease the risk and the effects of natural hazards and mixed/environmental hazards. This involves integrating climate change adaptation and territorial resilience, funding ecosystem services, promoting sustainable value chains and developing innovative governance approaches for planning systems, relevant policy and stakeholder engagement.
Here you could find and download the Final Report of the Pilot Action: Final Report
Rationale and link to Territorial Agenda
Linking to the Territorial Agenda 2030, the pilot action addresses the importance of well-functioning and resilient ecosystems for the adaptation of the impact of climate change, and the essential role of integrated management and cooperation beyond administrative boundaries. Therefore, this pilot action is closely related to the priorities ‘Functional regions’ under the objective ‘Just Europe’ and ‘Healthy environment’ under ‘Green Europe’, as well as aligning with the EU initiative Long-term Vision for Rural Areas.
This pilot action seeks to critically strengthen the interaction between spatial planning and other relevant sectoral policies, e.g., environmental, agricultural, forestry, construction and coastal area management, through an integrated and holistic landscape perspective. Through this perspective, landscapes are the complex result of human interaction with natural systems and resources and a crucial starting point from which to begin the promotion of territorial cohesion through an innovative social culture. A culture with means and fresh ways of ensuring that territorial organizations can act with resilience and efficiency to address persistent challenges through the appropriate allocation of relevant public funding into sectoral policies, thus contributing to an active stakeholder participation in the process of real landscape transformations.
The implementation of the Landscape Planning and Management Programme (PRGP) for the Serras of Monchique and Silves in the southern Portuguese region of Algarve is one of two case studies that composes this pilot action. The implementation process of this programme is itself a national pilot project from which lessons will be taken for 20 other Landscape Planning and Management Programmes for vulnerable areas until 2025. The pilot action also integrates the results within the framework of the ESPON project ‘Territorial Impacts of Natural Disasters’ (TITAN-SOPORT).
The second case study of the pilot, ‘Vulnerability analysis of the coastal area of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County due to sea level rise’, concerns the Croatian efforts to incorporate climate change adaptation into the relevant spatial planning documents and legislation. The combination of large amounts of precipitation and increasing sea levels mean that the region is increasingly at risk of coastal flooding and extreme hydrological events. A combination of short-term and long-term strategies is recommended which include protective measures and withdrawals.
The actions that were developed focused on the role of spatial planning in the preparation against hazards related to climate change, the need to incorporate resilience into the appropriate legislation and plans for the development and spatial planning of rural and coastal areas, and on the importance of the long-term commitment of the stakeholders involved. The pilot action tested and developed ways of strengthening the interaction between spatial planning and other relevant sectoral policies through an integrated and holistic landscape perspective. Crucially, it addressed the allocation of public funding for sectoral policies and how they could promote territorial resilience while developing a sense of active stakeholder participation in the process, as they are the real ‘landscape transformation agents’.
- Participation in the ESPON Joint session Pilots LAB TA2030, promoted by PT PRES & ESPON;
- ESPON virtual Peer Learning Workshop: Towards more resilient and fire-resistant landscapes in Europe promoted by PT PRES & ESPON.
- Opening calls for the funding of priority actions of the Landscape Planning and Management Programme (PRGP) of the Serras of Monchique and Silves;
- Public discussion sessions and their conclusion for 3 PRGP;
- Kick off of the processes for another 5 PRGP;
- Draft Report of the Pilot Action ‘Climate change adaptation and resilience through landscape transition’.
- Kick off of the processes for another 6 PRGP;
- Joint Croatian study conclusions to the Pilot Action, incorporating sea level rise as an effect of climate change;
- Organization of a critical friend visit to Monchique and Silves (Algarve) on the 21st and 22nd of September 2023 for a peer review of the final draft of the Report on the ‘Climate change adaptation and resilience through landscape transition’ Pilot;
- Presentation of the final report during the second semester of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The pilot action was developed from 2021 to 2023.
From Portugal: Directorate-General for Territory, Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests, Regional Coordination and Development Commission of Algarve, Municipalities of Silves and Monchique.
From Croatia: Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets and the Public Institution Institute for Physical Planning of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County.
Ministry for the Territorial Cohesion, Portugal
Fátima Bacharel (email@example.com)
Main territorial challenges
In recent years, Portugal suffered major rural fires that severely affected rural areas already subjected to socio-demographic and economic decline processes. As a political response, the country adopted policy measures aiming to ‘value’ the territory through landscape transition and territorial revitalisation of vulnerable rural areas. The main challenge is on how to implement the programme and design the implementation processes that bring a ‘new rural economy’ to these territories, based on the relation between protected and productive forest areas, agricultural, tourism, urban-rural linkages and payments of the ecosystem services. These policy measures were developed and are being implemented within the legal framework of the National Spatial Planning Policy Programme (PNPOT), approved in 2019, alongside the Landscape Transformation Programme (PTP), approved in 2020.
Preparations for the project ‘Vulnerability analysis of the coastal area of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County due to sea level rise’ coincided with the frequent floods in the coastal area of the Primorje – Gorski Kotar County, caused by high sea levels. These events additionally indicated the need to carry out an analysis of the vulnerability of the county’s coastal area due to climate change, i.e., rising sea levels. A strategy for dealing with sea level rise consists of protecting vulnerable areas and/or retreating from them. There is no unified solution to this problem, but it is necessary to establish the best methods for solving each individual endangered place. The problems that will arise due to sea level rise demand individualized approaches due to the complexity of the coastal area of the Republic of Croatia and Primorje – Gorski Kotar County in terms of relief, geological structure, wave action, population, etc.
Main Takeaways from the Pilot Action
- Experimentation in public policies: the Landscape Transition Programme (PTP) was designed based on the pilot project of the PRGP of Monchique and Silves. The Vulnerability Analysis of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Coastal Area due to Sea Level Rising in Croatia proposes ways to include adaptation measures in spatial planning documentation at the regional and local implementation level.
- A shared vision to achieve ‘the desired future’: stakeholders from different sectors and levels have confirmed that the diagnosis, vision, and general objectives of the PTP are relevant. The ‘Vulnerability Analysis of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Coastal Area due to Sea Level Rising’ drives the reconsideration of the need to apply construction restrictions to the coastal part of building areas and the further expansion of all existing building areas of high and very high vulnerability.
- Coherence between national policies: spatial planning, coastal area management strategy, forestry, and civil protection should share levels of coherency between national policies.
- Articulation between policy instruments: managing bottom-up/top-down instruments and stakeholders collaboratively ensures coherence between the local and regional scale as well as application of research results in the implementation of spatial plans at the regional and local level.
- Trust: after two years of the PTP implementation process and planned program measures, there is growing trust and responsibility sharing between the various sectors and levels of public administration and the private sector. The ‘Vulnerability Analysis of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Coastal Area due to Sea Level Rising’ project could provide the basis for the coastal vulnerability analysis of the seven coastal counties of the whole of Adriatic Croatia.
- The role of science: a better relationship between scientific knowledge and public administration leads to better public policies. Strengthening the contribution of spatial planning skilled institutions’ research results contributes to disseminate scientific knowledge.
Lessons for the future
- Importance of coordinating European sectoral funds at a territorial level: The success of the Pilot Action ‘Climate change adaptation and resilience through landscape transition’ was dependant on better coordination of the sectoral funding opportunities which are crucial for European territorial cooperation, including those related to agriculture, forests, biodiversity, and territorial cohesion. However, there is still a need for a clearer availability and easier access to funding that is tailored to specific territorial needs.
- Local capacity is crucial: Empowering local agents and spatial planning authorities through capacity building is a fundamental aspect of the sustainability of the Pilot Action in the long-term. This involved engaging in strong participatory processes and multi-stakeholder dialogues. The Pilot Action ‘Climate change adaptation and resilience through landscape transition’ is an excellent example of a multi-sectoral approach that requires long-term commitment from various sectors towards a common vision for rural or coastal areas.
- The importance of close-knit local governance networks: governance networks play a vital role in the transition and management processes necessary to implement transformative changes at the European territorial cooperation level. Encouraging an open mind to more flexible, innovative, and dynamic ideas that can generate positive impacts on the day-to-day lives of communities, their infrastructure and livelihoods is essential. One of the most important drivers of local development are governance networks that works towards the reconnection of communities with their territories, providing a common purpose of belonging to a place, and a culture that grounds and drives their aspirations.
- Monitoring is essential for successful implementation: Implementing these strategies often involves limited participation from individuals with varying levels of experience in these processes and it is important to continuously identify and address the problems, opportunities and the difficulties in communicating effectively between partners. To combat these challenges, it is essential to monitor the progress of programmes.
Critical Friend Visit to Monchique and Silves- presentation of the Final Report
The Portuguese Directorate-General for Territory (DGT), in collaboration with the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF), the Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR) of Algarve, and the Municipalities of Monchique and of Silves (CMM and CMS), hosted the members of the Network of Territorial Cohesion Contact Points (NTCCP) for the ‘Critical Friend Visit’ to Portugal on September 21st and 22nd, 2023. This visit aimed to facilitate the exchange of valuable ideas, experiences, and expertise to strengthen the work presented and both countries’ collective efforts towards achieving the objectives of the Territorial Agenda 2030. In conjunction with Croatian partners, the Institute of Physical Planning of Primorje and Gorski Kotar County, and the Croatian Institute for Spatial Development, the Final Draft Report of the joint Pilot Action ‘Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience through Landscape Transition’ was presented.
The participants embarked on a journey from the heart of Lisbon to the rugged landscapes of the Serras of Monchique and Silves where the importance of the design and implementation processes of the Portuguese Landscape Transition Programme (PTP) and its programmatic measures were emphasized. Special attention was given to the Landscape Planning and Management Programme (PRGP) of the Serras of Monchique and Silves, with a visit to the Parra National Forest, to highlight its significance in facilitating a sustainable adaptation to the recurring rural fires that pose a threat to this invaluable element of the natural heritage and the communities. Another fundamental aspect of this landscape is the Iberian lynx, who is being brought back from extinction and reintroduced to the surrounding ecosystem thanks to the fundamental work of the National Centre for the Reproduction of the Iberian Lynx. A visit to the Centre highlighted the significance and importance of restoring natural species’ habitats to new wildlife dynamics that (re)shape the landscape. Alongside these field visits, a session took place at Silves Educational Farm in which members of the municipalities of Silves and Monchique, the local Civil Protection, CCDR-Algarve and ICNF presented testimonies on the work that has been accomplished in the transition of this territory and the challenges that persist.
The field visits, testimonies and presentations on both case studies allowed for a greater context and understanding on the work that went into their development. The ‘Critical Friend Visit’ provided an opportunity to share this knowledge with members of the NTCCP and ESPON and to create an engaging environment for a peer review that would strengthen the final report of the Pilot Action.