Climate change, risk management and prevention

Added value of cross-border initiatives in this field

Beyond an approach at a national and local level, cross-border initiatives in this field have a real added value because climate change and natural and technological hazards are problems that transcend borders. It is essential to construct a cross-border approach when issues cross borders in this way, and insofar as the situation in one country can affect the situation in neighbouring countries. Therefore cross-border territories benefit from, or would benefit from, the exercise of joint responsibility and joint management as well as pooling of resources in the field of climate and hazards.

Thematic priority n°5 for the 2014-2020 period is “Promoting adaptation to climate change, as well as the prevention and management of risks”. This provides for support for initiatives in this field from programmes financed by the European funds, particularly those for territorial cooperation.

Different types of cross-border territories are concerned by this topic. All border areas are concerned by the question of adaptation to climate change, as well as the prevention and management of technological risks, whether they are rural or natural areas, or urban conurbations. As far as natural hazards are concerned, they represent a bigger challenge in mountainous areas, along rivers, in coastal and maritime areas, and in protected natural areas.

Beyond sectoral cooperation projects, adaptation to climate change and prevention and management of risks require a global approach at an appropriate scale for the territories (managing mobility with coordinated urban planning policy and transport policy; reconciling economic development and the preservation of nature, etc.).

It would be appropriate to establish synergies between initiatives in favour of adaptation to climate change and risk management with those developed for the protection of the environment, innovation, energy, economic development, and transport – other objectives for 2014-2020.

However, even if cross-border cooperation in this field is a “win-win” game, the cross-border dimension is, at least in the beginning, a complicating factor, and leading to extra costs:
- Lack of, or heterogeneity of statistical data, absence of cross-border studies;
- Lack of knowledge of the actors concerned, of legislation and management techniques on either side of the border;
- Disparity of competences;
- Absence of frameworks of reference, concertation mechanisms and collective management tools;
- Lack of participation among the population;
- Vastly differing levels of interest among elected representatives

Furthermore, local actors (local authorities, associations, etc.) are often limited in terms of their legal, human or financial capabilities. It is therefore important that the actors at the level above be able to assist them, be that financially, or with legal or technical expertise:
- The regional authorities (and decentralised departments of national administrations), which have a role to play both in the structuring of cross-border cooperation and in their engagement alongside local actors in certain projects. Furthermore, the French "MAPTAM" law (law of territorial public action modernization and metropolis affirmation) considers the regional councils as leaders on energetics topics (in the investment potential of EnR projects, in encouraging businesses to improve energetic efficiency, and in reducing greenhouse gas emissions).
- The territorial cooperation programmes (Interreg) that finance projects in the environmental field.
- The States and European institutions, concerning the regulatory and legislative aspects.

Cross-border cooperation focused on adaptation to climate change requires the full participation of citizens, who need to be made aware, informed or even trained, and implicated in the management of the public space and its costs and benefits, both directly and through the joint action of their elected representatives.


Photo : Espace Mont Blanc / Ph. Andrea ALBORNO