The European Union’s external Policy on climate change adaptation: from conditionality-driven action to sustainable development

Beatriz Pérez de las Heras


T he European Union (EU) has been promoting climate change adaptation measures in developing countries for the last 15 years. EU support is channeled through a number of external policies, but the development cooperation policy is particularly significant. Support has traditionally been conditional upon recipient countries’ adopting a National Adaptation Plan (NAP). This conditionality-based action has not only helped to promote NAPs in developing countries but also enabled these countries to participate in international climate governance. Yet this approach by itself, combined with certain inconsistencies, has failed to achieve sustainable development, one of the overarching goals of all EU policies. On the basis of this experience, the emphasis of the EU’s external climate policy is currently shifting towards a broader approach that takes into account the three dimensions (economic, social and environmental) of sustainable development. This more comprehensive approach and corresponding tools are more in line with the EU’s legal commitment to ensure Policy Coherence for Development.

Paraules clau

Conditionality; Climate Change Adaptation; Developing Countries; Sustainable Development; EU Development Policy

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