Planning and land use

Planning and land use in the context of climate change adaptation is divided into the following systemic areas:

Coastal areas
As a result of the melting of the continental glaciers and the thermal expansion of the oceans, the global sea level has started to rise faster than before and forecasts indicate that this increase will be even more intense in the 21st century. Considering present post-glacial land uplift rate of Estonian coastal areas and the global ocean level rise projections, the long-existed relative sea level lowering trend can be replaced by a relative sea-level rise trend, which in turn has an impact on the erosion and deposition processes acting on the Estonian coast. Also storm-induced coastal flooding and erosion is a global problem, which will be more severe in the future due to climate change. The sea level rise together with the increased storm frequency and decreased winter ice cover period will very likely raise the extent of floods and intensify the erosion of beaches and other coastal areas in Estonia during 21st century.

Other flooding risk areas
Flood risk and its consequences can harm human health, property, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity. The Ministry of the Environment commissioned water management plans including flooding risks mitigation by the end of 2014. The anti-flooding policy area is the most coordinated and strategically planned policy area in the climate adaptation field. Water management plans for the development and the results can be integrated with activities of adaptation policy.

Urban areas
Climate change is having an impact on Estonian cities already and the risks are increasing. Climate change, especially extreme weather events like coastal storms, floods and heat waves are exacerbating many current and future social, economic, and environmental problems, but proactive adaptation and mitigation can enhance resilience and provide additional opportunities for sustainability and growth.

There are already several urban planning instruments, tools and laws in place for climate adaptation like environmental impact assessment, risk assessment and restriction zones for construction in certain buffer and flood areas that help to prevent climate risks. However, further integration of climate issues into existing laws, strategies and land use plans is essential to have a broader scope in reducing the vulnerability and strengthening the adaptive capacity of the urban system against climate change.