Closing event for very successful programme highlights achievements and continued impacts
The “HU04 Adaptation to Climate Change programme”, funded through the European Economic Area (EEA) Grants financial mechanisms, officially concludes on April 30, 2017. An official closing event for the highly successful programme took place on April 19 in Budapest at the Geological and Geophysical Institute of Hungary (GGIH). The event not only provided a detailed overview of the programme highlights and accomplishments over the past four years, but also emphasised the work that is ongoing and will continue through programme-related follow-up activity and new partnerships.
On June 6, 2013, the Adaptation to Climate Change programme got underway in Hungary when the REC signed a programme implementation agreement with the Financial Mechanism Office of the EEA Grants. The REC acted as fund operator for the duration of the programme, while the donor programme partner was the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DBS). The programme was divided into three main components:
- C1: development of the National Adaptation Geoinformation System (NAGiS);
- C2: local climate change adaptation capacity building, involving the organisation of trainings for local-level decision makers and stakeholders; and
- C3: pilot projects focusing on climate change adaptation measures at local and regional level.
Tamas Palvolgyi from the GGIH, opened the half-day event by expressing appreciation that the project had established a “very positive environmental connection” between the programme’s multiple stakeholders. “Excellent work has taken place, and it’s a great idea to continue developing the NAGiS database.”
Barbara Botos, Head of Department at the Ministry of National Development, spoke about Hungary’s upcoming efforts and pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement. “This project shows how adaptation measures can be win-win, long-term and robust,” Botos said. “This is not simply an isolated project that is finishing, but one that the government plans to take further. Thanks to everybody for all their hard work and to our Norwegian partners.”
Next to speak was Senior EEA Grants Advisor Karl Kerner, who explained that the EEA Grants are part of the costs of being “part of this European community,” and that the NAGiS database is an important part of national knowledge management. “We’ve been around a lot of Hungary in these past four years, working with local authorities, because they are the ones under pressure and responsible for planning and emergency response,” Kerner said. “Let’s look at this programme as a seed. We’ve provided a little bit of fertiliser for getting us further down the road.”
Detailed work on this successful programme began back in 2011, explained REC Deputy Executive Director for Operations Zoltan Erdelyi. “The REC is involved in a region that faces lots of environmental challenges, and we know that the environment knows no political borders,” said Erdelyi. EEA Grant have been put to work not just in Hungary, but also in Romania, Poland and Slovakia. It’s very important to continue something that’s good, and we trust that there will be many other projects.”
REC Expert and Programme Manager Judit Balint reviewed the concrete accomplishments of the Adaptation to Climate Change programme, to which awareness and deeper knowledge were key factors. “In terms of numbers, all the results exceeded the original targets,” Balint explained, “so, yes, this was a hugely successful programme. All indicators were surpassed. There are more than 900 layers in the database system, which provides data in three different ways to more than 6,600 data users. With the construction and installation of pipes, dykes and canals, vulnerability capacity improved the safe of 37,000 people. Trainings carried out within the programme resulted in close to 500 people receiving certificates of completes. And, finally, with plenty of media coverage, information about the programme reached an estimated 4 million people.”
Five presentations on the more technical nature of the programme accomplishments followed: Peter Kajner, GGIH, reviewed the methodology of the NAGiS database and outlined plans for its further development. Kalman Buzas from the Technical University reviewed programme accomplishments of component C3-8 (adaptation measures undertaken in the Hungarian municipalities of Tat and Tokod.
Tamas Illy from the Hungarian Meteorological Service gave a thorough overview of new projects related to climate change monitoring, which include: KLIMADAT, C3S SURF, DECM, and an agriculture-related project to be led by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Members of these consortiums began working together during the EEA Grants project and these new projects are a successful end result.
Zsuzsanna Varadi, Regional Development Expert at Dipol Consortium, talk about developing local adaptation strategies and summarised their main results, while also mentioning the importance of training and communication to the programme’s success. Also important was the establishment of the Association of Climate Referents, a network established during the project implementation period that continues beyond the end of the project.
Finally, Miklos Koszo from the Banat-Triplex Confinium EGTC, recapped the fruitful cooperation between the Hungarian municipality of Morahalom (programme component C3-6) and the Norwegian municipality of Evje og Hornnes, which became partnering cities after the project and have since established a "sister city" partnership to agree on future cooperation.
“I appreciated hearing today about the human aspects of the programme,” Judit Balint concluded, “things you didn’t expect at the beginning. Every single project started a follow-up activity, and these partnerships continue to exists. The results go way beyond what has been presented here, and the implications are very broad and overarching.”
European Economic Area (EEA) Grants are financial mechanisms established by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, and are designed to reduce economic and social disparities and to strengthen bilateral relations with 16 EU countries in Central and Southern Europe and the Baltics.