Press release published at the end of the #SCCE24WA Summit

Press release, 9 February 2024.

The Climate Chance Europe 2024 Wallonia Summit « Adaption to climate change, Nature-based Solutions and Resilience » was held at the Palais des Congrès in Liège on 8 and 9 February 2024.

Over two days, the Summit brought together nearly 1,000 participants of more than 20 nationalities, from numerous European networks and organisations of non-state actors such as businesses, researchers, civil society and local governments.

Organised by the Walloon Ministers for Climate and the Environment, Philippe HENRY and Céline TELLIER respectively, and the Climate Chance association, the European Summit was a remarkable success, all the more so as it was the very first time that an event of international scope had been dedicated to adaptation to climate change.

As part of the Green Deal for Europe, the organisers aimed to contribute to the European work being carried out by the Belgian Presidency of the EU Council.

At the end of the two days, the participants called for collective and coordinated action to meet the challenges posed by climate change, and to protect Europe’s people, ecosystems and economy from its effects.

The best adaptation policy is a policy of mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, and the European Union has a key role to play. The Summit highlighted the need to base adaptation strategies on the latest scientific advances, such as the global temperature increase scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Adaptation Gap Reports of the United Nations Environment Programme and the reports of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) on biodiversity loss, and the need to take account of the known commitments of States under the Paris Agreement.

The Summit was concluded on Friday 9 February 2024 with the Liège Declaration, a roadmap for non-state actors to adapt to climate change in Europe, the result of a collaborative process. It has now been signed by more than 70 organisations and networks. Among the signatories: Climate Alliance, the largest network of European cities dedicated to climate action (2,000 municipalities and communes), ICLEI EUROPE (more than 2,500 local and regional authorities), CAN Europe (representing more than 1,700 NGOs), UVCW, which represents all the communes in Wallonia, CCRE/CEMR (1 million European local elected representatives), CANOPEA (the federation of environmental associations in Wallonia).

Non-state actors stressed the importance of Nature-based Solutions in adapting to climate change, with an emphasis on the preservation, restoration and sustainable management of ecosystems. They called for investment in resilient infrastructure, the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices and the establishment of early warning systems.

They recognised that vulnerable populations are often the most affected by the effects of climate change and called for multilateral and multi-stakeholder action to address these challenges.

They now call on all political levels alongside non-state actors to make adaptation a key priority in policy-making, to integrate a culture of prevention and resilience in all decisions, and to mobilise the necessary resources to support adaptation actions.

They also call for greater cooperation and coordination between non-state actors, local and national governments, and European institutions, in order to maximise the effectiveness and impact of adaptation measures.

The Liège Declaration has two main components. On the one hand, it is a roadmap containing strong commitments from the non-state actors themselves. On the other, it also is an advocacy document and a call to action, with concrete recommendations for the European authorities.

In June 2024, the Belgian Presidency of the Council of Environment Ministers of the European Union intends to adopt important conclusions on the future of European environmental policies after 2024. These conclusions are expected to include a section on each of the Belgian Presidency’s three main priorities, namely Just Transition, the Circular Economy and Adaptation and Resilience. In the context of this third priority, the Liège Declaration is a major contribution that will provide food for thought for the European Environment and Climate Ministers.

The Liège Declaration will also contribute to the major events on the international climate agenda in 2024, in particular the COP29 climate conference in Baku.