Actions putting the Territorial Agenda into practice

Climate change adaptation and resilience through landscape transition

In recent years, Portugal suffered major wildfires that severely affected rural areas already subject to socio-demographic and economic decline processes.

The pilot action ‘Climate change adaptation and resilience through landscape transition’ aims to develop experimental, integrated approaches for vulnerable rural areas. The pilot action aims at building a long-term commitment across all levels and sectors of governance, better synergies and complementarity between EU and national funding mechanisms.

The pilot action focuses 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’s engagement.

Climate change adaptation and resilience through landscape transition

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. This pilot action is, therefore, closely related to the priorities: ‘Functional regions’ under the objective Just Europe and ‘Healthy environment’ under Green Europe, also meeting the EU initiative Long-term Vision for Rural Areas.

Envisaged activities

Activities will focus on the role of spatial planning to face hazards related to climate change and the need to consider the resilience of rural areas and long-term commitment of the actors involved. The pilot action seeks to strengthen the interaction between spatial planning and other relevant sectoral policies, e.g. environment, agricultural and forestry, through an integrated and holistic landscape perspective. The pilot action addresses the allocation of public funding for sectoral policies and how they promote territorial resilience, and, crucially, develops a sense of active stakeholder participation in the process, as they are the real ‘landscape transformation agents’. Concrete activities could involve various outputs such as collecting and sharing information from existing ESPON and INTERREG projects, e.g; conferences, workshops, meetings, visits, communication and dissemination activities related to the implementation process.

Envisaged lessons and results

The pilot action has four thematic priorities for a landscape transition approach:

  • Integrating climate change adaptation and resilience: territories need to be better prepared for extreme events. Risks such as wildfires, loss of biodiversity and reduction in agricultural productivity become higher and more costly.
  • Fostering ecosystem services and the green economy: biodiversity must be considered a heritage component and an asset in danger of irreversible losses, that must be defended and protected.
  • Mobilising endogenous resources and improving natural capital valorisation: natural capital must be pursued as a differentiating and enhancing factor.
  • Building innovative processes of governance and stakeholder engagement in a long-term perspective: landscape transition takes time and needs trust.

The implementation of the Landscape Planning and Management Programme for Serras de Monchique and Silves, in the southern Portugal region of Algarve is one of the case studies that inspires this pilot action. The implementation process of this programme is itself a pilot project from which lessons will be taken for the next 19 Landscape Planning and Management Programmes that will be elaborated for vulnerable areas until 2025. The pilot action will also integrate the results within the framework of the ESPON project ‘Territorial Impacts of Natural Disasters’ (TITAN-SOPORT).

In Croatia the case study will be related to “Control of floods and management of floodplain ecosystem”. The pilot action would like to provide a good example of implementation of nature-based solutions for the extreme events caused by climate change in protected areas, namely in the Central Sava Basin (CSB), with its natural wetlands and floodplains, that combines natural values with the function of storage of floodwaters of the Sava River. One of the most important areas along the Sava River is the protected area of the Nature Park Lonjsko polje.

Envisaged dissemination

Various means and forms of dissemination are under discussion, namely ‘territorial dialogues’ with stakeholders at all levels, events to present and promote the results and a final publication with the lessons learned.

Time planning

The pilot action is expected to run from 2021 until 2023


Resources are still under discussion and will mainly cover costs for conferences, workshops, travelling and translations.

Indicative partners

From Portugal: Stakeholders from different administrative levels and sector policies, regional and local stakeholders and universities.

From Croatia: Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets. Institute for Spatial Development; European Commission/ DG Regio; ESPON

Partners from other countries are still welcome to join.

Lead stakeholder

Ministry for the Environment and Climate Action, Portugal
Patrícia Moreira (

Key messages/ results/ updates

Control of firesFor the time being, Portugal and Croatia have defined their case studies. In recent years, Portugal suffered major wildfires that severely affected rural areas already subject 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 a 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 relationship and payment 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. For more information, please see and

In Croatia the case study will be related to “Control of floods and management of floodplain ecosystem”. The pilot action would like to present a good example of implementation of nature-based solutions for the extreme events caused by climate change. The Sava River is the largest river in Croatia and due to climate change its basin has experienced several extreme hydrological events during the previous decade. Lonjsko Polje Natural Park is one of the largest and best-preserved natural floodplains in Europe. Every year, the waters of the Sava River and its tributaries flow into Lonjsko, Poganovo and Mokro polje. Thanks to such periodic flooding, the Natural Park is a unique treasure of biodiversity. For more information, please see

After the vision about the “desired future” (policy, programme, spatial plan or project), the design processes that clarify the activities, relations and roles of each stakeholder and build consensus between different actors which have a management role in the implementation process are critical.

Lessons learned so far

Key success factors and lessons can be drawn through the implementation process of the National Landscape Transformation Policy (LTP) and its programmatic measures:

  • Landscape Planning and Management Programme (LPMP/PRGP)
  • Integrated Areas for landscape management (IALM/AIGP)
  • Integrated Operations for Landscape Management (IOLM/OIGP)

1. Experimentation in public policies

The National Landscape Transformation Policy (LTP) was designed from the pilot project of Landscape Planning and Management Programme (LPMP) for Serras de Monchique and Silves in ALgarve. This starting point was an important aspect for the remaining factors to emerge.

2. Shared vision in order to achieve “the desired future”

One year after the publication of LTP and LPMP for Serras de Monchique and Silves, stakeholders from different sectors and levels confirmed, in 4 workshops from an ongoing Portuguese research project, that LTP diagnosis, vision, general objectives and main solutions are relevant and particularly opportune.

3. Coherence between national policies as spatial planning, as well as forestry and civil protection policies can be improved through these instruments.

4. Trust

After one year of LTP and LPMP implementation process, there is a growing trust and burden sharing between the various partners, sectors and levels of public administration and the private sector.

5. The role of science

Having a better relation between scientific knowledge and public administration helps to build better public policies.

6. Coordination between policy instruments

A good coordination between the management of bottom up and top down instruments leads to a better coherence between local, intermunicipal, regional and national scales.

Next steps

In the next phase, it is expected to have evidence of the results related to:

  • Governance model to implement transformative changes.
  • Funding : relation between agriculture, forest, biodiversity and territorial cohesion funds.
  • Capacity building : the importance of empowering the local agents.
  • Inclusive, participatory processes and multi-stakeholder dialogues.


The main activities in the first semester of 2021 were:

27th May ESPON virtual Peer Learning Workshop: Towards more resilient and fire-resistant landscapes in Europe promoted by PT PRES & ESPON
Date (Jan-Jun 2021) Main Activities
18th February Participation in the ESPON Joint session Pilots LAB TA2030, promoted by PT PRES & ESPON
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