For the past years there have been several initiatives focused on the provisioning of ecosystem services, and the repercussion of climate change over them. Among the European projects that have been developed (or currently under development), the following ones represent a selection of the current research framework in which ALICE falls:
CLIMSAVE (Climate Change Integrated Assessment Methodology for Cross-Sectoral Adaptation and Vulnerability in Europe; 2010-2013) has been a pan-European project focused on the development of the CLIMSAVE-Adapt impact assessment platform, a user-friendly, interactive web-based tool that allowed stakeholders to assess climate change impacts and vulnerabilities for a range of sectors, including agriculture, forests, biodiversity, coasts, water resources and urban development. The linking of models for the different sectors enabled stakeholders to see how their interactions could affect European landscape change. Outputs from the linked models were translated into ecosystem services in order to link climate change impacts directly to human well-being. The tool also enabled stakeholders to explore adaptation strategies for reducing climate change vulnerability, discovering where, when and under what circumstances such actions may help. It highlighted the cost-effectiveness and cross-sectoral benefits and conflicts of different adaptation options and enabled uncertainties to be investigated to better inform the development of robust policy responses. Two integrated assessment platforms were developed: one covering Europe and one for a regional case study based on Scotland.
The objective of the JRC PESETA II project (Projection of Economic impacts of climate change in Sectors of the European Union based on bottom-up Analysis) has been to make a multi-sectoral assessment of the possible impacts of climate change in Europe for the 2071-2100 time horizon. The project responded to a need to provide quantitative modeling support to the European Commission services regarding the impacts of climate change. The study used a large set of climate model runs and impact categories (ten categories: agriculture, energy, river floods, droughts, forest fires, transport infrastructure, coasts, tourism, habitat suitability of forest tree species and human health). The project integrated biophysical direct climate impacts into a macroeconomic economic model, which enabled the comparison of the different impacts based on common metrics (household welfare and economic activity).
The OPERAs project (Operational Potential of Ecosystems Research Applications; 2012-2017) aimed to improve understanding of how ecosystem services and natural capital contribute to human well-being in different social-ecological systems in inland and coastal zones, in rural and urban areas, related to different ecosystems including forests and fresh water resources. The OPERAs research tried to establish whether, how and under what conditions the ecosystem services and natural capital concepts could move beyond the academic domain towards practical implementation in support of sustainable ecosystem management. The project used a meta-analysis (systematic review) of existing ecosystem services and natural capital practice to identify knowledge gaps and requirements for new policy options and instruments. New insights, and improved (or novel) tools and instruments, were tested in practice in exemplar case studies in a range of socio-ecological systems across local, sectors, scales and time. OPERAs has, in cooperation with the OpenNESS project, established the conceptual and structural basis of OPPLA (a web based resource hub for ecosystem services and natural capital data, on-line tools, documents, worked examples, videos and best practice guidelines amongst other resources and online materials).
Similarly to OPERAs, the OpenNESS project (Operationalisation of Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services; 2012-2017) aimed to translate the concepts of Natural Capital (NC) and Ecosystem Services (ES) into operational frameworks that provide tested, practical and tailored solutions for integrating ES into land, water and urban management and decision-making. The project examined how the concepts linked to, and supported, wider EU economic, social and environmental policy initiatives and scrutinized the potential and limitations of the concepts of ES and NC. The OpenNESS work programme integrated methodological innovation and empirical analysis in an iterative cycle of application and refinement that draws on experience from real-world case studies. It was a multi-scale case study approach, designed to ground concepts and theories on real world observations and analysis. OpenNESS developed a coordinated case study program, which was used to analyze the application of the ES and NC concepts in concrete management and decision-making situations, such as integrated river basin management, coastal zone management, and urban and regional planning, covering a range of social-ecological systems including fresh water bodies, coastal zones, woodlands, grasslands and farmlands, and urban areas, and their interfaces. The case studies targeted key policy problems such as improving the quality of water, preserving biodiversity, using natural resources more responsibly, and combating climate change through increasing the use of renewable energy. European and global scale mapping and modeling approaches quantified the flows of ES between European countries and other parts of the world.
- The BESAFE project (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Arguments for our future Environment; 2011-2015) aimed to address the utility of arguments for biodiversity protection in many different decision-making situations, ranging from international to local and in many different ecological, economic and social settings. The objective of BESAFE was to help to innovate and improve biodiversity protection by providing a framework that summarized the observed and potential effectiveness of the alternative ways to argue the case for biodiversity protection, and to make this framework easily accessible and usable through a publicly accessible database and associated toolkit. The project aimed to increase comprehension on the dependency of the effectiveness of arguments on: a) the perception of the policy makers and stakeholders addressed (who), b) the policy implementation phase (when), and c) communication and participation (how). BESAFE undertook a number of case studies covering all three major governance scales (global to European, national to regional, and local, as well as their interactions) to investigate how much importance people attribute to alternative arguments for the protection of biodiversity and, in particular, how this relates to ecosystem services. The focus was on the arguments used by policy makers at different governance levels and in different ecological, socio-economic, spatial and temporal contexts. The project also analyzed the use and effectiveness of various types of arguments for biodiversity protection under varying circumstances. BESAFE aimed to be a bridge between science and policy from a transdisciplinary point of view, which represents the overall coordination of science, education and innovation. This will greatly improve the knowledge on transferability and scalability of the values attributed to different aspects and benefits of biodiversity which potentially has a huge impact on effective biodiversity policy making.
The IMPRESSIONS project (Impacts and risks from high-end scenarios: Strategies for innovative solutions; 2013-2018) aims to work with decision-makers to improve understanding of the impacts, risks, vulnerability and adaptation options associated with high-end climate and socio-economic scenarios. The project will include models with interactions between different sectors, e.g. agriculture, forestry and biodiversity, and different regions, e.g. Europe and the rest of the world, as they compete for resources such as land, water and energy. The models will also allow the exploration of synergies and trade-offs between adaptation and mitigation actions. This will inform recommendations for planners on how to practice Integrated Climate Governance. The models will be applied to five case studies at different scales: global, European and local or regional (Hungary, Iberia and Scotland), to ensure that they can tackle complex real-life situations. The methods developed will aim to foster synergies between adaptation and mitigation, and to build resilience in the face of uncertainty. The outputs of IMPRESSIONS are likely to offer a new set of reasons for people and organizations to reconsider their approach to climate change policies and actions, including a more precise justification for early, aggressive mitigation, and the reframing of the climate and development challenge. In particular, the project will identify policies that could become a source of economic innovation rather than a financial burden – including those with multiple benefits across sectors, and those which exploit synergies between adaptation and mitigation options.
The RISES-AM project (Responses to coastal climate change: Innovative Strategies for high End Scenarios -Adaptation and Mitigation–; 2013-2016) had as a general objective to assess the cross-sectoral and economy-wide impacts and vulnerability of coastal systems at local, regional and global scales, across the full range of representative concentration pathways (RCPs), and shared socio-economic pathways (SSPs). The project integrated a series of specific objectives pertaining to four different areas of knowledge: 1) adaptive management; 2) decisions under uncertainty; 3) dynamic (transient) analyses; and 4) coastal zone sustainability. The project benefited from the novel types of sustainable interventions derived from local scale analysis to enrich regional and global assessments, subject to global constraints such as the scarcity of energy in our future worlds.
VOLANTE project (Visions Of Land use Transitions in Europe; 2010-2015) aimed to develop a new European land management paradigm, informing European policy and land management about the bandwidth of critical pathways for multifunctional and sustainable land use, and providing an integrated conceptual and operational platform which allowed policy makers to develop pro-active and context-sensitive solutions to the challenges for the future, rather than to react on largely autonomous external land systems developments. The project aimed to provide the mechanisms to identify land management and policy options in time and in space, as well as the evaluation of their consequences in terms of the provisioning of ecosystem and biodiversity services, leading to a roadmap for future land resources management in Europe. To realize this, VOLANTE was designed in three Modules to gain better understanding of the processes underpinning land use change in Europe, to exploit assessment tools that are capable of identifying critical pathways for land management in a variety of environmental and management regimes across Europe, and to provide insight into the role of land management decisions on future sustainability.
The objective of the PlanSmart research group (2015-2019) is to explore innovative approaches to planning and implementing nature-based solutions for resilient development of river basins and the interactions between rural and urban areas within them. The approaches to be explored are ‘smart’ in that they consider social, ecological and economic targets, exploit synergies wherever appropriate, apply GeoDesign-technology for supporting decisions with the best available knowledge, and use SolutionLabs as platforms for transdisciplinary cooperation. This enhances the relevance of the planning outcomes for various actors and the likelihood of actual implementation in practice.
Compared to these projects, ALICE not only tackles the issue of sustainable coastal and inland landscape management but introduces the identification of the benefits delivered by Blue and Green infrastructures, as well as the exploration of economic and social barriers to the delivery of ecosystem services.