The consortium of sponsors today unveiled the Climate Resilience Centre (CRC), an undertaking with an international reach driven by Eurecat, the Technology Centre of Catalonia, together with Amposta Town Council and Rovira i Virgili University in partnership with other stakeholders and organisations. Its purpose is to step up the battle against the climate emergency and secure a firm commitment to the ecological transition in Catalonia, Spain and the Mediterranean backed by research, technology and innovation.

The Climate Resilience Centre will initially be based at Eurecat Amposta. The presentation event was attended by Pere Aragonès, First Minister in the Government of Catalonia; Teresa Jordà, Catalan Minister of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda; Xavier Torra, Chair of Eurecat; Dr María José Figueras, URV Vice-Chancellor; Adam Tomàs, Mayor of Amposta; and Xavier López, Eurecat’s Chief Operating and Corporate Officer.

The Climate Resilience Centre’s operations and laboratory facilities will be funded by over €12 million in investment over the next four years. The centre is to harness innovative methodologies anchored in citizen science and will foster new business initiatives delivering technological solutions to combat climate change in partnership with other organisations. Together with Rovira i Virgili University it will also run climate change education and training programmes as demand for qualified specialists in these areas is expected to burgeon.

The Climate Resilience Centre will be a public-private partnership engaging all innovation ecosystem stakeholders and including civic participation. It will be run in coordination with government and fully aligned with domestic and international climate adaptation policies.

The Climate Resilience Centre partners are the Catalan Government, Amposta Town Council, the Consortium for Environmental Policies of Terres de l’Ebre (COPATE), the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF), the Catalunya la Pedrera Foundation, the Business and Climate Foundation, the Ebro Observatory, SEO/BirdLife and Rovira i Virgili University. The presentation was attended on their behalf by Joan Alginet, chair of COPATE; Arnau Queralt, director of the Catalan Government’s Advisory Council for Sustainable Development; Dr Joan Pino, director of the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications; Elvira Carles, director of the Business and Climate Foundation; Asunción Ruiz, director of SEO/BirdLife; Miquel Rafa, director of Territory and Environment at the Catalunya La Pedrera Foundation, and Dr Pere Quintana, head of the hydrology and climate change strand at the Ebro Observatory.

Pere Aragonès, the First Minister of Catalonia, hailed the founding of a research centre in Terres de l’Ebre “with an international outlook” and a “multidisciplinary and cross-cutting vision” which dovetails perfectly with “the transformational ambition which governments will need over the coming decade and beyond”.

Dr Carles Ibáñez, director of the Climate Change Division at Eurecat, will be the CRC’s scientific director. The centre will coordinate its operations with research institutions, social and economic partners, the business community and government to pool capabilities in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

“As of today, Catalonia has a flagship research and innovation centre for climate resilience taking an interdisciplinary approach which will address both adaptation and mitigation in response to the climate emergency,” said Eurecat chair Xavier Torra. “The CRC’s operations will be fully aligned with ecological transition policies and it will be a network hub supporting businesses and institutions.”

The Climate Resilience Centre “has been set up in Terres de l’Ebre which is one of the most threatened areas in the Mediterranean where climate change’s impact is already being felt, in particular in the Ebro Delta where it is adversely affecting ecosystems, agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture and other business sectors,” commented Carles Ibáñez.

“The Climate Resilience Centre will be a key player in bringing about the changes needed to turn today’s planetary emergency around,” pointed out María José Figueras. “This is one of our last opportunities to save the planet and all the institutions involved in this centre need to bring our expertise and knowhow to bear towards the same goal. As a university, we are committed to fostering applied research and innovation to address one of the greatest global challenges to preserve the planet and move forward in the ecological transition.”

“The Climate Resilience Centre is urgently needed,” argued Adam Tomàs. “The Delta is extremely vulnerable to climate change which is all the more reason to site it in Terres de l’Ebre.”

Over the current decade, Catalonia “faces the great challenge of planning and fast-tracking full-scale rollout of mitigation and adaptation measures,” noted Xavier López. This is in a scenario where “society, government, businesses, research and technology will have to come together to build solutions which enable a fair and inclusive ecological transition, and research and technology are pivotal on this journey.”

Multi-technological, robust solutions with a constructive social impact and generating new business models

The CRC is to target developing robust and innovative multi-technological solutions for adaptation and mitigation using solutions grounded in domains such as nature, water technologies, earth observation, soil and sediment technologies, artificial intelligence and big data, applied robotics, the circular economy and energy efficiency.

These solutions will also be shared with businesses as tools which will help them to stand out from the crowd and craft new business models supporting climate resilience.

The goal is to mitigate the impacts of climate change and enable adaptation to effects including drought and water scarcity, sea level rise and ocean acidification, wildfire intensity, new diseases and infections, extreme weather events, loss of biodiversity and heat waves.

The CRC also seeks to reach out to other geographical areas by setting up Living Labs in partnership with the ecosystem across Catalonia. The CRC is to be a proactive driving force for coastal, inland and mountain areas by deploying technology-based tools to make them more resilient to the effects of climate change and also by pinpointing potential opportunities to generate wellbeing and unleash fresh business ventures that are sustainable, responsible and inclusive.

A key tool for climate change adaptation

To this end, the CRC will engage in ongoing conversations with stakeholders across the region to address the challenges and opportunities of climate change adaptation. It will prioritise and promote strategic initiatives and apply and develop technology with a view to ensuring that its projects and proposals are as accessible, useful and impactful as possible.

Consequently, the CRC’s mission will be underpinned by excellence in generating expert-led and technology-driven activities and projects leveraging best practices and principles.

Strategic goals

The CRC is to build innovative and effective methodological tools and technologies to fast-track solutions for shifting towards sustainable development across regions, businesses, people and tiers of government. It will additionally support rolling out shared strategies for climate change adaptation and mitigation, economic transformation and international agendas.

Other core goals include unlocking opportunities to address climate change and identifying, sponsoring and delivering high-impact research and innovation powerhouse projects. It will also deliver outstanding research and innovation and seek to set the standard in knowledge and technology transfer to businesses, government and society in general.

Adapting to the effects of climate change: a European priority

Climate change and United Nations experts say that this decade is critical to prevent the impact of climate change from seriously and irreversibly harming the economy, territories and people’s health.

Europe has adopted exceptionally far-reaching strategies to enhance the resilience of its regions through mitigation measures and by building up capabilities for urgent adaptation to future scenarios. On top of the commitments made in the Paris agreement and the 2030 Agenda there is also the Green Deal and more recently the EU climate change adaptation strategy which sets out the groundwork for a green transition while getting ready to address the unavoidable effects. Catalonia kicked off the Catalan Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (ESCACC) in 2012 to become more resilient and less vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The ESCACC pinpoints knowledge generation and transfer coupled with increasing adaptive capacity as two essential components. The Catalan Government is currently drafting its new climate change adaptation strategy for Catalonia from 2021 to 2030.