The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted in its 2014 report that climate change would have negative impacts on agriculture for the rest of this century, even in temperate zones such as Europe. Integration of adaptation measures into the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Cohesion policy can increase the resilience of EU agriculture to climate change.
LIFE AGRI ADAPT aimed to increase the resilience of EU agriculture to climate change by demonstrating sustainable best-practice adaptation measures with an ecosystem-based approach at farm level. The reasons for this are twofold: to further integrate adaptation into the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Cohesion Policy, the Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection and EU Biodiversity Strategy; and to exchange best practice and raise awareness of climate change vulnerabilities and adaptation options, a priority of the EU Strategy on adaptationto climate change. Specific project objectives included improving the knowledge base for the assessment and monitoring of climate change vulnerability at farm level by developing and testing a common method ready for use in the four EU climate risk areas. The project also aimed to test sustainable measures and management approaches for climate change adaptation, and implement them with concrete action plans on 120 pilot farms in Spain, France, Germany and Estonia, covering the three farming systems (arable, livestock, and permanent crops).
The LIFE AGRI ADAPT project demonstrated how three of the most important farming systems in the EU (arable, livestock and permanent crops) can become more climate-resilient through the implementation of feasible and sustainable adaptation measures. The project was implemented with partners in each of the four EU Climate Risk Regions: Southern, Western, Central and Northern Europe. Different adaptation measures were tested on 126 pilot farms across Europe and the conclusions were used to elaborate general proposals for key farming systems. These have positive crosscutting environmental benefits.
The project partners produced five baseline reports, in five languages, and created a decision supporting tool to assess the pilot farms vulnerability towards climate change. The decision supporting tool was tested and implemented on the pilot farms. In addition, a webtool, the Webtool for Adaptation (AWA) was launched in April 2020 and is now available and applicable over the whole of Europe.
The project partners developed 30 adaptation action plans for each of the four climatic regions, in Spain, France, Germany and Estonia. The implementation of the action plans was monitored, their effectiveness were tested in terms of climate change vulnerability, the results compiled, and sustainable proposals for adaptation per farming systems were produced. Activities were organised to mainstream these recommendations, and transfer them to other countries across the EU. The targets set for the communication actions were all surpassed, including the number of downloads of the recommendation reports from the website (3 457), the number of people reached through dissemination channels (3 million by project end), and the number of website visits. The project partners presented the projects work at 89 events. Through the farming adaptation training pack and the demonstration workshops on farms, 4 160 farmers were informed about the project and the topic of adaptation to climate change.
The project contributes to the implementation of a range of EU policies and strategies. It contributes to the EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change, by facilitating the climate-proofing of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Cohesion policy and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). It also contributes to the objectives of the EU Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection, EU Biodiversity Strategy, and the EU policy priority on the exchange of best practice and awareness raising on climate change vulnerabilities and climate change adaptation options.
The decision supporting tool for farm vulnerability is an innovative aspect of this project. It can be used in all four European agro-climatic zones (at international, national, regional and local level), and can be applied to different farm types (arable farming, dairy cattle, beef cattle, pigs, poultry and permanent crops). Another innovative aspect is the development of the AgriAdapt Webtool for Adaptation (AWA webtool), which is a platform to generate useful data for agro-climate indicators, and also capacity building, to support the implementation of adaptation measures. Both innovative tools developed by the project underline the high replicability potential and value of the project. In addition, the project team created training packages on the subject of "Sustainable adaptation of agriculture to climate change".
The project beneficiaries developed an overview of the reduction of vulnerability factors through sustainable adaptation measures. The proposed measures could address between 40% and 100% of farm vulnerability factors. With this information, farmers can adopt sustainable adaptation measures, which will make their farms more resilient to climate change. This resilience will have positive economic effects on the farm, creating a positive socio-economic impact. Improving a farms capacities with AgriAdapt monitoring has helped farmers on the pilot farms to understand what has been done and what is useful for adaptation, and what could be done next to become even more resilient.
The role of insurance companies was assessed in the countries participating in the project (Germany, Estonia, France and Spain). Insurance companies for agricultural risks are very interested in France and Spain, but there is low interest in Germany and no insurance options for farmers in Estonia. The project emphasised, at workshops and other public events, that an insurance policy could be an important adaptation element to reduce economic risk.
Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).