Making policies work

Cascading climate risks: Towards adaptive and resilient European societies

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Please note: the official website of the CASCADES project is

The effects of climate change – ranging from extreme weather conditions to food and water shortages – do not only physically cross national borders, but can also impact global processes such as trade, business, conflict and migration.

For instance, in 2010, climate impacts in Russia and Pakistan resulted in a shortfall of cereals to international markets. Cereal prices spiked as a result of drought-related harvest failures and a subsequent Russian export ban. This led to higher food prices globally, including in Europe. In Egypt, the higher cost of food became one of the additional triggers for riots, which led to a change of government.

The impact of climate change within Europe has been relatively well-studied, but not much is known about how climate-related events occurring elsewhere might affect the continent. It is crucial that European policymakers are aware of the full spectrum of cross-border and cascading climate risks, and that they take them into account in their future policies.

How are the consequences of climate change interlinked and how can they affect Europe? Source of the infographic: Hildén et al., 2020. Cascading climate impacts: a new factor in European policy-making.

This is where the interdisciplinary ‘CASCADES’ project aims to come in. The four-year project, funded through the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, will analyse the cross-border impacts of climate change for Europe, identify critical risks and explore potential solutions.

The CASCADES project is coordinated by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and involves eleven other organisations and universities across Europe, including ECDPM:

ECDPM’s contributions will focus on the development, security and foreign policy implications of climate change outside of Europe. We will formulate recommendations on how European policies can address these risks coherently, analyse how European climate finance is affected by climate change, and advise on how these institutions can build resilience to climate risks.

An important part of our work will take place in regions that are key to European foreign policy, such as the Western Sahel (with a focus on Burkina Faso) and North Africa (zooming in on Tunisia).

We will be sharing the latest publications and events of the CASCADES project in our ‘Weekly Compass’ newsletter. Subscribe to stay up to date.

Get in touch with our team

For questions related to the project, please contact Hanne Knaepen. For communications and media enquiries, please get in touch with Nina Thijssen.


Cascading climate impacts: a new factor in European policy-making
Mikael Hildén, Glada Lahn, Timothy R. Carter, Richard J. T. Klein, Ilona M. Otto, Benjamin Pohl, Christopher P. O. Reyer and Fabien Tondel, CASCADES brief, January 2020

In this brief, the authors share information on the ‘cascading’ effects of climate change and what this means for EU policies, and set share more information on the CASCADES project.

ECDPM CASCADES publications

Looking back at the 5th European Climate Change Adaptation Conference (ECCA 2021)
Hanne Knaepen, CASCADES paper, January 2022

Lessons from COVID-19 for managing transboundary climate risks and building resilience
Andrew K.Ringsmuth, Ilona M., Otto, Bartvan den Hurk, Glada Lahn, Christopher P.O. Reyer, Timothy R. Carter, Piotr Magnuszewski, Irene Monasterolo, Jeroen C.J.H. Aerts, Magnus Benzie, Emanuele Campiglio, Stefan Fronzek, Franziska Gaupp, Lukasz Jarzabek, Richard J.T. Klein, Hanne Knaepen, Reinhard Mechler, Jaroslav Mysiak, Jana Sillmann, Dana Stuparu, ChrisWestu, journal article published in Climate Risk Management

Europe’s cross-border trade, human security and financial connections: A climate risk perspective
Christopher D. West, Emilie Stokeld, Emanuele Campiglio, Simon Croft, Adrien Detges, Anja Duranovic, Adrian von Jagow, Łukasz Jarząbek, Christian König, Hanne Knaepen, Piotr Magnuszewski, Irene Monasterolo and Christopher P.O. Reyer, journal article published in Climate Risk Management

Climate resilience in cities of the EU’s Southern Neighbourhood: Opportunities for the EU Green Deal
Hannah Abdullah, Karim Elgendy and Hanne Knaepen, CASCADES study, November 2021

The EIB Group Climate Bank Roadmap 2021-2025: What does it mean for developing countries?
Pamella Eunice Ahairwe, CASCADES policy paper, September 2021

Climate change and resilience in the Central Sahel
Sophie Desmidt, Oriol Puig, Adrien Detges, Pia van Ackern and Fabien Tondel, CASCADES policy paper, June 2021

Climate risks in Tunisia: Challenges to adaptation in the agri-food system
Hanne Knaepen, CASCADES Research Paper, February 2021

Climate change and security in North Africa
Sophie Desmidt, CASCADES Research Paper, February 2021

Promoting policy coherence: Lessons learned in EU development cooperation
James Mackie, CASCADES policy brief, September 2020

This brief looks at how the concept of policy coherence for development has evolved in European development policy circles and what measures the EU and its member states took to promote policy coherence since it was first written into the EU Treaty in 1992. It also puts forwards potential lessons on promoting policy coherence for EU policymaking for coping with the cascading effects of climate change

Boosting EU climate finance: Mitigate more without neglecting adaptation in poorer countries
Pamella Ahairwe and San Bilal, CASCADES policy brief, December 2019

The consequences of climate change, including droughts, floods, plummeting biodiversity and the loss of human lives, are undermining low-income and fragile countries’ development prospects. That is why EU efforts to boost climate action and finance should focus not only on mitigation but also adaptation. The European Green Deal will have to live up to this challenge.


17 January 2022
Understanding Ecological Threats, Resilience and Peace

9 November 2021
Adaptation beyond the EU: Perspectives for stronger cooperation with Africa

1 November 2021
Cascading climate risks: Perspectives from around the world

24 June 2021
Dr Hanne Louise Knaepen reflects on ECCA 2021
5th European Climate Change Adaptation Conference (ECCA 2021)

31 May 2021
360° view of climate impacts: experiencing the future to plan adaptation – Champions: Christopher Reyer – PIK | Hanne Knaepen – ECDPM

14 April 2021
Transboundary climate risk and adaptation

1 April 2020
CASCADES core/thematic workshop

7-8-9 October 2020
CASCADES Project Meeting (3rd General Assembly and Management Board Meeting)

ECDPM’s related publications and other relevant work

Climate Adaptation Talks – Episode 4 with Cinzia Losenno
San Bilal interviews Cinzia Losenno from the European Investment Bank, Climate Adaptation Talks podcast series, 14 December 2020

Beyond (carbon) borders: externalising the Green Deal

ECDPM’s San Bilal contributed to this Friends of Europe’s virtual event on 8 June 2020.
During this event, participants discussed how the Green Deal can help achieve a global sustainable recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eight ways the European Investment Bank can help tackle climate change in Africa
San Bilal and Pamella Eunice Ahairwe, ECDPM blog, 11 May 2020

The complex link between climate change and conflict
ECDPM Great Insights magazine, volume 8, issue 4 (Autumn 2019)

The paradox of climate change: How Africa can step up climate action to lighten its vulnerability
Pamella Ahairwe, ECDPM blog, 14 October 2019

Finance to adapt: Making climate funding work for agriculture at the local level
Bethany Tietjen, Francesco Rampa and Hanne Knaepen, ECDPM paper, September 2019

Transforming food systems to combat climate change
Koen Dekeyser, Paulina Bizzotto Molina, Cecilia D’Alessandro and Bethany Tietjen, ECDPM blog, 15 August 2019

For further information on our work related to climate change, please take a look at our dossier: