Climate change adaptation

Research shows that the significant increase in global air temperature has occurred over the last four decades, that is from 1971 to 2010. In nine from ten years in the period 2001 – 2010 air temperature was above average, and the warmest year overall was 2010.

In 2013 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its Fifth Assessment Report on which hundreds of scientists from all over the world worked, and which provides a clear and up-to-date overview of current scientific data related to climate change. The report states that climate change has a widespread impact on human and natural systems and that continuation of greenhouse gas emissions would cause further warming and serious and irreversible impact on people and ecosystems. Limiting climate changes through significant reduction of emissions, together with adaptation to climate change, can significantly reduce risks.

Due to its climate and geographical features Croatia was recognised as a country exceptionally vulnerable to climate change which it is already facing. The risk from the rise of the sea level can be expected, as well as a change in the behaviour and migration patterns of sea fish due to the warming of sea water, certain impacts on hydrology and water resources, forestry, agriculture, biodiversity, human health, etc. It is therefore of key importance to, concurrently with the measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, prepare mitigation of the consequences as well as the assessment and reduction of the risks from climate change.

Further information on the expected impact of climate change in the Republic of Croatia can be found in the 6th National Communication to the UNFCCC.


Project for the development of the National strategy on adaptation to climate change

Air Protection Act (OG 130/11, 47/14) prescribes development of the National adaptation strategy for the period up to 2040 with a view to 2070 with the Action Plan.

The national adaptation strategy will define priority measures and activities for the most vulnerable sectors such as hydrology and water resources; agriculture; forestry; biological diversity and natural ecosystems; coastal area management; tourism and human health.

More information about the project for the development of the National strategy on adaptation to climate change is available at:

How will climate change affect society?

How will climate change affect society?

Although climate has continuously been changing throughout the Earth’s history, over the past decades we have been witnessing changes that were most likely caused by mankind. It can be observed that the annual air temperatures in Croatia have risen, the annual precipitation level is declining, and the number of dry days is increasing. Drought and longer periods of extreme temperatures are highly likely to increase in the future, already observable from the fact that seven of the ten warmest years since 1900 were recorded after 2000. At the same time, flooding caused by the rising sea levels and heavy precipitation are another immediate climate risk in Croatia, especially considering the long coastline and large parts of the territory located in river basins.

All these climatic changes will affect Croatian society and the economy. Due to its significance for food security and employment, agriculture is an important sector of the Croatian economy. Agriculture is directly dependent on climate variability and thus particularly vulnerable to climate change. Extreme weather events such as drought or storms damage crops and cause economic losses. However, climate change can also have a positive effect on agriculture (e.g. higher temperatures might foster earlier flowering and cultivation of new crops).

Both in terms of employment and income generation, tourism is a central sector of the Croatian economy. Rising temperatures could affect the number of tourist arrivals. Furthermore, a large part of the tourism infrastructure is situated on the coastline and is exposed to sea level rise. Also, in inland tourist destinations, such as national parks, an increase in temperature might cause changes to ecosystems.

Heat waves, that will become an ever more frequent occurrence in the future, will have an impact on human health, especially on vulnerable groups such as the elderly and the chronically ill. Furthermore, due to higher temperatures, there is a risk from the spreading of diseases carried by mosquitoes and other non-endemic migratory species.

The predicted temperature increase, combined with precipitation decrease, might lead to water scarcity. Since Croatia´s energy production depends to a large extent on hydroelectric power plants, this could have a negative effect on energy supply. On the other hand, solar energy use might benefit from the increase in the number of sunny days.

In the areas that are already facing water scarcity today (such as the islands), problems in water management might arise in the future due to a reduced availability of freshwater resources. This also has an impact on other water-dependent sectors and areas, such as agriculture and wetlands.

Biodiversity and ecosystems are markedly affected by climate change, and salinization of wetlands through sea water can already be observed.

Rising sea temperatures affect fish migration causing changes in the structure of the fish stock which can lead to problems in the fishery and marine industries sector.  

Due to the expected sea level rise, an adverse impact on infrastructure along the coast can be expected.

The impact of climate change on Croatia will be described in detail in the future Strategy on adaptation to climate change in the Republic of Croatia for the period until 2040 with a view to 2070, while adaptation measures will be elaborated in the Action Plan



Why do we need to adapt?

Impact of climate change on Croatia is already observable, and an even greater one can be expected in the future (6th National Communication to the UNFCCC). Although the scope of future effects and the extent of the damage that will occur as their result are still uncertain, it is crucial to implement adaptation measures already today. According to the precautionary principle, lack of certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing action, but rather as a reason for promoting adaptation measures to prevent negative impacts. Just the opposite is true, far-sighted, well-planned action is often less costly than waiting. Furthermore, larger adaptation projects usually extend over long time periods and are not feasible in the short term.

If we know that floods, sea level rise, drought and increasing temperatures are the most likely climate risks in Croatia this will affect several economic sectors, and it is therefore necessary to introduce adaptation measures in those sectors.

Often measures promoting climate change adaptation have other benefits regardless of the climate dimension. For example, a measure aimed at reducing damage from climate change may at the same time be used to promote environmental quality and human health. These adaptation options are called “no regrets” because even if the climate does not change, their implementation creates positive social and economic impacts. When planning adaptation preference should be given to 'no regrets' options as well as flexible measures that can be incorporated in future scenarios. Due to its manifold positive impacts adaptation to climate change strengthens sustainable, green development.

Examples of measures: diversification of crops, improving the system for water collection, irrigation and storage of water resources, introducing innovative agricultural practices, adaptation of tourism offers, introducing a 'greener' and more resilient infrastructure, improving insulation systems, adaptation of the health sector to heat waves and new diseases, strengthening the protection and rescue sector, strengthening flood protection and drought mitigation systems, etc.

The impact of climate change on Croatia will be described in detail in the future Strategy on adaptation to climate change in the Republic of Croatia for the period until 2040 with a view to 2070, while adaptation measures will be elaborated in the Action Plan.


Climate adaptation in the EU

A set of documents on adaptation to climate change was adopted in 2013 at the European level. In addition to the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change, these documents include impact assessment and European Commission working documents (e.g. Guidelines on developing adaptation strategies, Technical guidance on integrating climate change adaptation in programmes and investments of Cohesion Policy, Adapting infrastructure to climate change, etc.)

The European strategy rests on three pillars:

  1. Promoting action by Member States (by providing guidance and funding, and by supporting adaptation in cities through the Mayors Adapt initiative)
  2. Promoting better informed decision-making (addressing gaps in knowledge about adaptation, development of the European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT))
  3. Promoting adaptation in key vulnerable sectors (agriculture, fisheries and cohesion policy), ensuring that Europe’s infrastructure is made more resilient, and encouraging the use of insurance against natural and man-made disasters.

Climate-ADAPT platform provides access to data and sharing of data and information on expected climate change in Europe, current and future vulnerability of regions and sectors, EU, national and transnational adaptation strategies and actions, adaptation case studies and potential adaptation options, and tools that support adaptation planning.

Climate adaptation activities in Croatia

Although at the moment there are no sectoral strategies that address the issues of adaptation of that particular sector to climate change, activities in the field already attest to certain practical adjustments in some sectors. In the context of capacity building and practical work on adapting to climate change, several projects have been carried out or are ongoing.

CroAdapt Project

The project provided advisory and technical support to the Croatian Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection in intensifying the national dialogue on climate adaptation in 7 different regions of Croatia through planning, implementing and summarizing the regional stakeholder workshops, as a preparatory fact-finding and consultative process for the national adaptation strategy development. Furthermore, the project had specially focused capacity building activities in Eastern Slavonia as a future model-region with regard to regional climate adaptation planning.

Concrete project results include stakeholder mapping and results of a survey regarding the level of public awareness of various regional and local stakeholders across the country, policy recommendations for development of adaptation strategy and action plan, regional adaptation guidelines for policy-makers and a brochure on climate adaptation designed for the general public.



Clim-Var Project - 'Integration of climate variability and change into national strategies to implement the ICZM Protocol in the Mediterranean'

The project is funded by UNEP/GEF and implemented in 8 Mediterranean countries (Algeria, Albania, Montenegro, Egypt, Croatia, Morocco, Tunisia and Palestine) by UNEP MAP in Athens, supported by its two Regional Activity Centres, Blue Plan (BP/RAC) in Nice and Priority Actions Program (PAP/RAC) in Split. The project was initiated in January 2012, with completion expected in December 2015. Within the framework of this project Croatia was, along with Tunisia, selected as a pilot area for two activities:

  • Cost assessment due to climate variability and change, by using the globally renowned DIVA method (Dynamic Integrated Vulnerability Assessment), and
  • Development of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management plan with special focus on climate variability and change. The ICZM Plan focuses on the defined part of the Šibenik-Knin County, and the process is carried out with the help of a participatory method 'Climagine'.


Adaptation tools, platforms and guidelines

  • Climate ADAPT: Supports the EU Adaptation Strategy by providing an adaptation support tool and a specific tool for the adaptation in urban environments, overviews of countries’ activities, a case study search tool and other functions.

  • Mayors ADAPT: European Commission initiative launched in the context of the EU Adaptation Strategy, and carried out within the framework of the Covenant of Mayors.

  • UKCIP adaptation wizard: A 5-step process to assess the vulnerability of organisations to climate change and help them develop a climate change adaptation strategy.

  • CHAMP Capacity Development Package: Integrated Management System for enhancing local capacities on climate change adaptation and mitigation.

  • weAdapt: an online ‘open space’ on climate adaptation issues providing knowledge on case studies and projects globally.

  • BASE - Planning for Adaptation to Climate Change: Guidelines For Municipalities: Guidelines for development and implementation of local adaptation plans, created in collaboration with the municipalities of Ancona (Italy), Bullas (Spain) and Patras (Greece). 

  • ICLEI - Preparing for Climate Change. A Guidebook for Local, Regional, and State Governments: Guidelines for public decision-makers with focus on “climate preparedness” and development of resilience.

Additional information on adaptation