The Basque Country at the Regions4Climate General Assembly in Crete to unveil the coastal adaptation actions in Txingudi


Ihobe, the Basque Government's Environmental Management Agency, has taken part in the General Assembly of the European Regions4Climate project, where it unveiled the climate change adaptation project for the San Lorenzo lagoon in Irun. The work envisages restoring degraded areas or land used for agriculture or other purposes that were originally marshland of the Txingudi river estuary.

The Regions4Climate Assembly – held in the Greek city of Sitia between 23 and 25 April – has addressed the key tasks to be carried out in the second year of this international project striving to improve climate resilience, as part of the Horizon Europe funding mechanism. The Basque Country is taking part in Regions4Climate as an advanced region in the cluster of regions for coastal adaptation by means of running pilot schemes to develop and test their transformative adaptation plans and pathways.

The planned action in Irun envisages removing earth to open up by lagoon to the tides by getting rid of 50,000 cubic metres of agricultural land and of the sluice gates that currently regulate the water flow. The project aims to obtain the largest flat surface of water possible, at a height of 0.5 m and with the minimum soil balance possible. Thus, the plan is to extend the San Lorenzo lagoon that will result in 5.5 further hectares of new marshland; that would mean the natural restoration of the tidal pattern, improving the resilience of the territory and engineering a larger floodable surface area in order to adapt to the envisaged climate scenarios. The action is also taking place in a special protection area for birds that is part of the Natura 2000 Network, and will improve the habitat for those species and will create a refuge for biodiversity.

Basque Climate Change Adaptation Mission

Apart from the intervention in Txingudi, the Basque Country has presented the progress in the Basque Climate Change Adaptation Mission, deployed by Ihobe. The Basque Adaptation Mission seeks to give substance to the EU Mission of which the Basque Country is a signatory; it is therefore responding to the real adaptation needs of the territory by means of specific demonstrators in the areas most impacted by climate change and working with all the stakeholders involved in that adaptation, from the public administration to citizens, and with special emphasis on SMEs.

In this deployment process of the Basque Mission, the Basque Country has the support of MIP4adapt (Mission Implementation Platform), a European Union platform to support the regions in the implementation of adaptation. MIP4adapt has endorsed the Basque Country's adaptation track record dating back over a decade; hence, its recognition as an advanced region in Europe. Accordingly, the Basque Country stands out for Kostaegoki, its work to assess the vulnerability and risk of the Basque coast to climate change, and for LIFE IP Urban Klima 2050, the largest climate action project of the Basque Country up until 2025. Both are innovative actions implemented by the Basque Country through its environmental management agency, Ihobe.

The participation in the European Regions4Climate project and the role that Basque institutions play in its different phases confirms the Basque Country's importance in climate adaptation – based on its experience – to share and learn from other solutions implemented in other regions. The Basque representation of the Regions4Climate consortium is led by the Basque Ministry for Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment and Ihobe, along with the AZTI, Tecnalia Research and Innovation and Zabala Innovation Consulting technology centres, which will provide their extensive experience to support other European regions to better understand the complexity of climate risks and apply the lessons learnt from other benchmark regions.

About Regions4Climate

The Regions4Climate project, coordinated by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, brings together 44 partners from 13 different European countries to demonstrate innovations to improve society's resilience to the effects of climate change, in keeping with the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal. They are all collaborating and have been divided into three clusters, according to the climate challenge they are facing and their adaptation level. The Basque Country is the 'front runner' region of its 'Faster Adaptation' cluster and focusing on the risks along the coast. The other members will be Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Tuscany and the Azores.

Based on intersectoral strategies created by and for people, the project's partners will work together to develop and apply innovative environmental, governance, business, digital, technological and social solutions to strengthen the adaptation capacity and minimise vulnerability to climate impacts.

The project, which began in January 2023, has receive a total subsidy of over €24.5 million from the European Commission as part of the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme, which address 'Large-scale demonstrators of climate resilience creating cross-border value'.