The Regions4Climate project will develop and validate resilience solutions including novel technologies, their integration, and their application in combination with new business models and innovative policies. The first test-bed will be Pärnu City and the surrounding county in Estonia. The work will facilitate and empower decision-making and enhance regional resilience to climate change by providing a suite of proven, scalable and easily replicable climate change adaptation solutions.
“Climate change necessitates a paradigm shift in terms of how we interact with the world around us. As we seek to both adapt to and mitigate climate change, we must become increasingly resource- and water-efficient, working in harmony with nature and generating new knowledge and information that will enable society to thrive in the face of this major global challenge”, explained Laura Wendling, a senior scientist from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Coordinator of Regions4Climate.
Pärnu County in Estonia is one of the 12 partner regions that will seek solutions for adaptation in this programme. “We must increasingly react to the challenges and problems posed by climate change. Last year we finalized Pärnu’s energy and climate agenda until 2030 – this document will guide us in how to proceed and what topics to take further. The new project will focus on enhancing resilience in city planning and will offer tools to reduce heat islands in the city,” explained Irina Talviste, Pärnu City’s deputy mayor in urban economy and development.
“Climate change necessitates a paradigm shift in terms of how we interact with the world around us.”
Together with the Estonian Environmental Research Centre, SEI Tallinn will support Pärnu City and County in developing innovative solutions. Together they will install weather sensors in Pärnu City to measure the temperature, relative humidity and precipitation all over the city and to map out Pärnu’s heat islands.
This mapping is very important for setting a baseline and monitoring change, said SEI Tallinn’s expert Blaine Lowry. “The weather sensor network will help Pärnu make informed urban planning decisions now and in the future, with the aim of minimizing the impact of urban heat on citizens and infrastructure,” said Lowry. Furthermore, the project will research Pärnu rivers and landslide risk, to prevent their occurrence and guide future planning decisions.
“In a time of fast environmental changes, it is not reasonable to wait for society and the economy to gradually adapt to the changes by themselves,” said Anette Iital, project manager at the Estonian Environmental Research Centre. She noted that Estonia has been including climate adaptation in national strategies and agendas. “Human-caused climate change, including more frequent and extreme weather events, inflicts increasing harm on nature and people. In the past several years, Estonia has put more effort into raising climate awareness among institutions and citizens. The issue is of national importance.”
In addition to Pärnu City, all other Pärnu County municipalities will participate in the project. The head of Pärnu County’s Union of Municipalities, Erik Reinhold, sees municipalities as the key drivers of climate policy in the county. The Union led the preparation of Pärnu County’s climate agenda for 2030. The plan includes municipalities’ actions for adaptation, including exchanging knowledge and cooperating with other regions and research centres in Estonia and abroad.
About the project
The Regions4Climate project brings together 44 partners from 12 different European regions to demonstrate innovations that enhance societal resilience to the impacts of climate change. The project is coordinated by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.
Project partners will collaboratively develop and implement novel social, technological, digital, business, governance and environmental solutions. This effort will reinforce adaptive capacity and minimize vulnerability to climate impacts in line with the Paris Agreement and the EU Green Deal.
The five-year project started in January 2023. It received a grant of over 24.5 million euros from the European Commission under the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme addressing “Large scale demonstrators of climate resilience creating cross-border value” (HORIZON-MISS-2021-CLIMA-02-04).
The 12 partner regions are the Basque country (Spain), South Aquitaine (France), the Azores (Portugal), Toscana (Italy), Køge Bay (Denmark), Burgas (Bulgaria), Helsinki-Uusimaa (Finland), Pärnumaa (Estonia), eastern Crete (Greece), Castilla y León (Spain), the Nordic Archipelago (Finland, Åland and Sweden), and Troodos (Cyprus). At least 13.8 million people are expected to directly benefit from the outcomes of the project, with potential upscaling in the longer term that could impact the more than 746 million people living in Europe.
The results and social innovations developed within the project will be shared on the Just Transition Platform, to be replicated in other regions.