Climate change is a reality. Furthermore, as a result of human activity, the climate will continue to change for the coming decades. Climate change will have a profound impact on the way we live our lives. To keep this impact bearable, we need both to mitigate and adapt.
The precise change in climate is difficult to predict, especially on a smaller geographical scale like Belgium. Belgian research in this field will continue. Nevertheless, national and international research reveals several future challenges for Belgium. The most obvious are sea level rise and inundations which will affect the coastal and lower areas and droughts and heat waves which will affect the forests in the southern part of the country.
In Belgium a substantial part of the necessary adaptation to the climate change has already been initiated from the bottom up. Both on local level as on sector specific level, the sense of urgency has inspired many people to take action in fields as diverse as health, tourism, agriculture, forestry, biodiversity, ecosystems, water, coastal, marine and tidal areas, production systems and physical infrastructure. To cope with the climatic changes, they started to construct monitoring schemes, to build physical barriers and to induce changes in people’s behaviour. For these areas a quick overview of the effects of climate change and the adaptation measures already taken, have been included. It is interesting to note that the actions in these fields are not only based on the defence against threats, but also on finding new possibilities and capitalising on favourable changes.
Belgium now faces the challenge to further extend the scope of adaptation in order to cover all areas influenced by climate change. This holds especially for aspects which fall between the classic policy areas. Extensive linkages between the different policy areas and their adaptation efforts could lead to synergies and could further avoid maladaptation. This will ultimately lead to a more complete and coherent adaptation policy. In order to further facilitate adaptation (from a policy point of view) a set of principles, an outline and a roadmap have been identified that describe a route to a future and comprehensive national adaptation plan.