The environmental risks facing the EU are multiple. They include floods, landslides, forest fires and extreme weather events that very often go beyond national borders and are exacerbated by climate change. These natural and human-induced hazards threaten the safety of people and damage property, the natural environment and cultural heritage. 
Under Cohesion Policy programmes for 2021-2027, investments of more than EUR 18.8 billion are planned in climate adaptation and risk management, of which over EUR 13.9 billion is EU funding. 
On this page, you can use interactive charts to explore the planned investments by fund, country and type of action based on Cohesion Open Data.

Urgent need for adaptation and resilience

The territories of the EU face multiple risks including floods, landslides and extreme weather events that very often go beyond national borders and are aggravated by climate change. Natural and man-made disasters cause enormous losses of economic and natural assets, lead to injury and loss of life, impact the environment and local social conditions, and hamper stability and growth. The European Environment Agency estimates that between 1980 and 2022, weather- and climate-related extremes caused economic losses of EUR 650 billion in the EU Member States, of which EUR 59.4 billion in 2021 and EUR 52.3 billion in 2022. 
Global warming increases the likelihood of severe and irreversible risks, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally is the key to reducing these risks. At the same time, it is imperative that we are both better prepared for these dangerous events and better equipped to respond to them. There is an urgent need for strengthening adaptive capacity, enhancing climate resilience and reducing vulnerability. The effects of climate change have a distinct territorial expression due to climate, topography and population density. Cohesion Policy delivers place-based and targeted investments that respond to the needs of the regions. By improving the resilience of the EU's regions harmonious development is ensured, which is essential for territorial cohesion within the EU.
As part of the European Green Deal, a more ambitious EU strategy on adaptation to climate change was adopted in February 2021, strengthening the efforts on climate-proofing, resilience building, prevention and preparedness. The strategy outlines a long-term vision for the EU to become a climate-resilient society by 2050. The aim of the strategy is to reinforce the adaptive capacity of the EU and the world, and minimise vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, in line with the Paris Agreement and the European Climate Law which enshrines in law the goals set out in the European Green Deal. The strategy also specifically mentions that Cohesion Policy programmes provide an opportunity to frontload investments and reforms that can help increase resilience to climate shocks.

EUR 18.8 billion for adaptation and risk management 

One of the aims of the EU Cohesion Policy between 2021-2027 is to promote climate change adaptation and disaster risk prevention and resilience, taking into account eco-system based approaches. The majority of Member States and multiple Interreg programmes have selected climate adaptation and risk prevention as a priority for the 2021-2027 funding period. 
For the 2021-2027 programming period, a total investment of more than EUR 18.8 billion is planned in climate adaptation and risk management under Cohesion Policy, of which over EUR 13.9 billion is in EU funding (situation as of November 2023)Taking this amount in relation to the total allocation of the funds programmed, this represents around a 4% share. 

Funding for climate adaptation and risk management varies between Member States

The vast majority of Member States are investing in climate adaptation and risk management through Cohesion Policy in 2021-2027. However, there are significant differences between Member States in their allocations to climate adaptation and risk management. This is partly explained by differences in the size of national allocations under Cohesion Policy. At the heart of Cohesion Policy is the idea that less developed Member States and regions receive more support in order to help them catch up and to reduce the economic, social and territorial disparities within the EU.
Poland, the biggest beneficiary of the funds, has allocated the largest amount to adaptation and risk management under Cohesion Policy. In addition to Poland, several other countries have significant allocations from the funds contributing to adaptation and risk management objectives (e.g. Italy, Greece and Bulgaria). Four countries have decided not to use Cohesion Policy funds to contribute to adaptation and risk management objectives.
Note: In the graph below, TC means territorial cooperation, i.e. Interreg.

Investments take many forms

The budgetary allocations to the types of investment that benefit climate adaptation and risk management are illustrated in this chart. There are four types of investment that have climate adaptation and risk management as their core objective. The first three are related to climate change adaptation and concern the prevention and management of climate-related risks such as floods, landslides, fires, storms and droughts. The fourth field of investment concerns risk prevention and management of non-climate related natural risks, and risks linked to human activities (for example earthquakes and technological accidents).
The highest allocations are for the prevention and management of climate-related floods and landslides. The second largest share is allocated to the prevention and management of climate-related storms and droughts.

Investments fall mainly under the specific objective of climate adaptation and disaster risk prevention

The four types of investments with climate adaptation and risk management as their core objective fall overwhelmingly under the specific objective of climate adaptation and disaster risk prevention and resilience (RSO 2.4), but there are also small investments under other specific objectives, such as sustainable water and nature protection and biodiversity. This is illustrated in the chart.
Climate adaptation and risk management investments are also included in policy objectives other than PO2, but the amounts allocated to them are very small. 

Member States differ in the composition of investment

Depending on the specific development needs of EU countries and regions, the composition of investment contributing to climate adaptation and risk management objectives varies considerably between Member States. In general, most Member States have opted for investment in a combination of areas, while only a few plan to invest in the prevention of only one risk. In many Member States, the highest allocations are for investment in flood and landslide prevention and management measures (e.g. Cyprus, Bulgaria and Slovenia). In some other Member States, prevention and management of storms and droughts dominate investment in adaptation and risk management (e.g. Belgium, Poland and Czechia). The graph below shows the share of each type of intervention in the total allocation for climate adaptation and risk management by Member State.

Tracking achievements

Cohesion Policy programmes use common indicators and specific national / regional indicators to measure the actions undertaken and the benefits of the investments. The indicators are divided into output and result indicators. Output indicators reflect the direct deliverables of the actions financed by the programmes, while result indicators measure the outcomes (direct benefits) of the interventions supported. In the period 2021-2027, output and result indicators are directly linked to the actions supported.
For climate change adaptation and risk management, there are a total of eight common output indicators and four common result indicators for the period 2021-2027. The charts below show the values of four output indicators and four result indicators. The output indicators reflect investments in disaster management, areas protected against wildfires and green areas adapted to climate change. The result indicators reflect the expected population protected from different types of disasters and benefiting from various protection measures. As implementation progresses, the charts will show the evolution of the target values and the decided values and implemented values from selected projects. For example, the target value for area covered by protection against wildfires is over 85 million hectares, while the target value for population benefiting from wildfire protection is around 134 million people. 
It is important to note that the common indicators do not cover all eligible actions in the field of climate adaptation and risk management, so there can also be other outputs and results. Programmes also use programme-specific indicators, which cannot be aggregated to the EU level. 

Common output indicators

Common result indicators

Examples of projects funded in the period 2014 - 2020

How could investments in 2021-2027 be translated into concrete projects? Some ideas from the 2014-2020 funding period show what is possible:
1) Strengthening local and regional fire and rescue services in Slovakia
An EU-funded project has ensured better training and provided new equipment for Slovakia’s local and regional fire and rescue services. The project helps to mitigate the threats to human life and property from fires and other phenomena related to climate change. The project will help the Fire and Rescue Service to establish a comprehensive mechanism to develop the voluntary municipal fire brigades and the Voluntary Fire Protection Service. The work should also contribute to a more effective approach to dealing with emergencies, one that is based on an effective strategy and comprehensive risk assessments, regular monitoring, analysis of threats and the availability of resources to minimise their consequences.
Total investment for the project is EUR 42 727 527, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 34 793 025.
Link to the project
2) Restoring the Danube's sediment balance
Nine countries, stretching from the Black Forest to the Black Sea, have joined forces in a project to restore sediment balance in the River Danube. The work is a priority for the Danube region because, over the past few decades, human activity on the river and its tributaries has led to dramatic changes in sediment load. These changes have a negative influence on water management issues such as flood risk, inland navigation, river ecology and hydropower production.
Total investment for the project is EUR 3 558 582, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 2 827 421  and the Instruments for Pre-Accession Assistance with a contribution of EUR 197 373.
Link to the project
3) Integrated flood services and climate change awareness for eastern Mediterranean islands
To help bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and public action regarding flooding, this Greece-Cyprus Interreg-funded project developed an online Environmental Risk Management Information Service. It provides the business, policy and scientific communities, and the general public, with tools such as risk maps, early warning systems, climate change projections, and social network facilities.
Total investment for the project is EUR 1 159 248, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 985 361.
Link to the project