Newsletter XVII - 4th European Climate Change Adaptation conference in Lisbon: Working together to prepare for change

On 28-31 May 2019, the 4th European Climate Change Adaptation conference (ECCA2019) took place in Lisbon, bringing together researchers, policy-makers and practitioners to discuss recent advances in climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR), to find solutions, and to inspire collective action to increase Europe’s resilience.

 ECCA2019, which sold out with over 1,200 participants, was the first major conference focusing on harmonisation and collaboration between CCA and DRR, making it both uniquely suited to consider the goals and targets of the three landmark international agreements - the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Paris Agreement negotiated at COP21 (the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference) - and well timed, given that the next decade will be critical for achieving the agreements’ 2030 goals and targets. This is underpinned by the Global Risks Report 2019 of the World Economic Forum (, which ranks extreme weather events and failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation as the top two risks to society).

 This urgent need has already been recognised by researchers, policy-makers and practitioners, and calls for effective collaboration of all sectors of society, across all governance levels, including public and private. Both the “Rome Declaration of Stakeholders” (from the 2018 European Forum for DRR) and the European Commission’s recent report (SWD(2018)461) on the evaluation of the EU strategy on adaptation to climate change, also call for integration, coherence and collaboration between the two areas.

 At ECCA2019, the first plenary session - “Europe is at risk: adapting to extremes” - focused on the urgency to take action, and presented what is being done in Lisbon, Portugal, and Europe. The second plenary session - “Adapting businesses to climate change: risks and opportunities” - focused on the role of the private sector, with speakers from international companies and organisations. The discussions centred on trying to identify specific challenges of this sector, what strategies have been used to deal with climate change and what opportunities does climate change bring to businesses. The third plenary session - “The road ahead” - focused on discussing solutions, and setting the path for the next decade to achieve the 2030 goals and targets of the three international agreements. Additionally, 96 Science-Practice and Science parallel sessions were organised, to present the current state-of-the-art knowledge and inspire action.

 The key messages from ECCA2019 will inform the European Commission’s next framework programme for research and innovation (2021-2027, Horizon Europe), based on feedback from the conferences’ six themes (see web-link below). 

The main messages from the parallel sessions are: (1) Be inclusive in taking care of vulnerable groups (e.g. the elderly and frail), who are overlooked and are impacted stronger by climate risks; (2) Better link CCA and DRR, which play a major role in bringing together and enhancing cooperation between diverse levels of governance; (3) Act now - we already know a lot; (4) Work jointly on integrated solutions, and better understand the systems we work in, in order to develop effective adaptation actions and avoid “maladaptation”, focusing on co-production of knowledge of adaptation and risk reduction.

 The biennial ECCA conference is convened by projects that have received funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework programme. ECCA 2019 – the fourth such conference - was organized by PLACARD ( in collaboration with the projects BINGO ( and RESCCUE (


Mário Pulquério, Tiago Capela Lourenço 
and Susana Marreiros
University of Lisbon

Markus Leitner
Environment Agency Austria

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