BalticClimate - Baltic Challenges and Chances for local and regional development generated by Climate Change

Background and Goals

The climate change is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. The climate change will also change our familiar environment. Communities, cities and regions, private citizens and businessmen alike will need to adjust to this. The overall framework is defined by international and national climate policies. However, it is up to the stakeholders themselves to implement these policies at the regional and local level and to adjust them to the specific requirements of their locations. At the same time, it is important to remember that the climate change does not only entail risks, but also offers opportunities for future development and competitiveness, depending on how successful the climate adaptation measures are.

The BalticClimate project with the English title "Baltic challenges and chances for local and regional development generated by climate change" has been working assiduously on climate protection and adaptation strategies.

The main project result is the "BalticClimate Toolkit" (visit: The information it contains primarily addresses politicians, spatial planners and business people. They are to be supported in preparing and implementing suitable measures in response to the climate change. In this respect, the topic is prepared in such a way that it can be understood by everyone, even without a corresponding professional or scientific background. Moreover, the translations into the 12 languages of the Baltic Sea states guarantee a wide distribution.

The challenges and opportunities of the climate change were examined in 7 pilot regions. In-depth analyses focused on selected case studies in the areas of transport and mobility, energy, housing/construction and agriculture.

The main objectives of the project were:

  • to enable municipalities, regions and local stakeholders in the Baltic Sea region to to deal with the issue of climate change in an integrated, cooperative, and sustainable way, in terms of day-to-day business as well as long-term strategies;
  • to understand and proactively address the phenomenon of climate change not only as a challenge, but also as an opportunity for sustainable, local and regional development;
  • to make municipalities and regions more competitive for future challenges and, in this way, to strengthen and maintain a common identity in the Baltic Sea region.

The focus was particularly on rural areas as well as smaller and medium-sized towns and cities in all the countries of the Baltic Sea region. Existing scientific knowledge on the climate change and on dealing with with it was to be taken into account at the implementation level. At the same time, scientists were able to acquire insights on the kind of information specifically required by the users.

From the outset, the three work packages "Climate change - material and analysis", "integrated solutions and capitalization" and "instruments" were aimed at making the findings and instruments as portable and easy to apply as possible, for the local authorities and other stakeholders they were intended for. Apart from the translation of the main outputs into all the languages of the region this was also achieved by numerous test runs of the instruments in relevant situations. In the context of the work package "public relations", a comprehensive application package was provided directly to all the communities, cities, and regions in the Baltic Sea region in order to multiply the effects of the project.

Content time


Research area/region

  • Germany
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Poland
  • Russia
  • Sweden
Region of implementation (all German federal states)
  • Mecklenburg Western Pomerania
Natural spatial classification
  • North-East German lowland

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

For the analysis, two greenhouse gas emissions scenarios were used: SRES A2 (assumes a high population growth and high energy consumption) and SRES B2 (assumes a lower population growth with a lower energy consumption). The regional model used was the RCA3 model of the Swedish Rossby Centre.

Parameter (climate signals)
  • Altered rainfall patterns
  • Higher average temperatures
  • Extreme precipitation (incl. hail, snow)
Further Parameters 

snow pack, wind, among others

Further times 


Step 2a: Identify and assess risks - climate effects and impact

Approach and results 

The effects considered are those of a temperature increase, changed seasonal precipitation (increase in winter, decrease in summer), and the frequency of extreme events such as heavy rainfall, heat waves, blizzards, droughts, forest fires, etc. The air quality could change due to the climate change. The ground-level ozone values may rise in some parts of Europe, particularly in Germany. For other countries in the Baltic Sea regions, the changes forecast are less clear. Higher temperatures can cause an increase in the mortality rate. The Swedish study shows an increased risk of landslides, erosion, ravine formations and mud flows, while in Germany property damages may increase due to severe weather events. There is a general increased risk of forest fires in the entire Baltic Sea region and the average crop yield is expected to decline in the southern countries.

Step 2b: Identify and assess risks - Vulnerability, risks and chances

Approach and results 

The BalticClimate Toolkit supports spatial planners to identify the role of the planning process in dealing with the issue of climate change The process starts with the inventory analysis of necessary data to assess local challenges and opportunities generated by the climate change.  This is followed by the vulnerability assessment of the region and/or chosen business sector.

Based on extensive experiences from practical use, the BalticClimate vulnerability assessment framework consists of two blocks: an "exposure and sensitivity" block, and a "response action" block.  Working with the two blocks gives new insights on how to evaluate and interpret the potential challenges and opportunities resulting from the climate change.

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

In the interest of sustainable development, the climate adaptation measures and strategies devised in all pilot regions took geographical, socio-economic, demographic, ecological and cultural factors into account. On the basis of the activities implemented in the pilot regions under scientific guidance, the results have been generalized and integrated in the BalticClimate Toolkit. This toolkit was distributed to a wide range of people and institutions throughout the Baltic Sea region, with the aim of encouraging the use of these outputs (free of charge) to multiply the results and effects of the project at a local and regional level.

The challenges and opportunities of the climate change were considered within certain pilot regions and the four main priorities transport/mobility, energy, housing/construction and agriculture were analysed in more detail in case studies.

Examples from the pilot regions can be found in the toolkit for the following topics:

-    General planning level

-    Climate change impacts

-    Public participation and stakeholder involvement

-    Recognizing the problem

-    Detailed planning level

-    Energy efficiency

-    Inventory analysis

-    Compact and diverse urban structure

-    Comfortable and healthy environment

-    Local climate and the future climate scenarios

-    Sustainable transportation

-    Regional planning level

-    Strategic planning

-    SWOT analysis tool

-    Vulnerability assessment

Time horizon
  • 2071–2100 (far future)


Funding / Financing 

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), and resources of the project partners

Project management 

BalticClimate agency: Academy for Spatial Research and Planning (ARL), Germany


The team of BalticClimate consisted of 23 partners in Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden and 16 associated organizations, also including partners from Russia. The five work packages of the project were managed by a transnational team:

  • Environmental Projects Ltd. (State Ltd "Vides Projekti"), Latvia;
  • Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research (CSPR), Sweden;
  • Regional Council of Central Finland, Finland;
  • Stockholm Environment Institute Tallinn Centre (SEIT), Estonia;

Further project partners (P) und associated organizations (AO):

P: District Harju, District Rapla, Harju Center for public transport, Municipality of Saku, Municipality of Kehtna, Municipality of Kohila

P: Regional Development Corporation Jyväskylä - Jykes Ltd, Center for Economic Development, Traffic and Environment Central Finland
AO: City of Jyväskylä, City of Jämsä, Municipalityof Laukaa, Municipality of Uurainen, City of Äänekoski, Municipality of Muurame

P: Regional Planning Association Western Mecklenburg
AO: Association of German Cities and Communities , German Association of Cities, Office of the Biosphere Reserve Schaalsee

P: Municipality of Ligatne, Municipality of Prgauja
AO: Latvian association of local and regional territorial authorities

P: Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Lithuania, Lithuanian Institute for Agronomy
AO: Municipality of the Region of Panevezys

P: West Pomeranian Business School

AO: Regional administration Pskov, Committee on Questions of Local Self-government, University of Applied Sciences Pskov, District administration of Bezhanitzky

P: Region of Gävleborg, Administration of the rural district of Gävleborg, Municipality of Söderhamn, Municipality of Gävle
AO: Municipality of Sandviken, Department for Construction and Environment, Swedish Geotechnical Institut


ARL - Akademie für Raumforschung und Landesplanung
Hohenzollernstraße 11
D-30161 Hannover

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Fields of action:
 agriculture  biological diversity  building sector  energy sector  human health  spatial, regional and urban land use planning  transport, transport infrastructure  water regime, water management  woodland and forestry