Many SEE countries are exposed to a rise in sea level, with a greater risk of disaster affecting densely populated areas and the most developed coastal areas. Already disadvantaged rural areas face increased water stress as a result of altered precipitation, runoff and recharge patterns and rates, saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers, higher domestic water demand, and higher demand for water in the agricultural sector for crop irrigation. The decline in ecosystem services is further exacerbated by a deterioration in water quality, land and ecosystem losses, and a decline in wild and farmed fish stocks.

Over 40 years have passed since the first numerical climate simulations were undertaken. Since then, numerical methods have allowed enormous progress, expanding the number and type of variables predicted, the range of the predictions and the type of sectors involved. The accuracy, reliability and scope of the forecasts have steadily improved.

However, in many cases this knowledge does not reach the final users and stakeholders quickly enough or in sufficient quantities. Progress in adapting to climate change in SEE is hindered by fragmented and uncoordinated data services, patchy risk assessment procedures, and the low uptake of the available knowledge in territorial development and other climate-sensitive sectors. There is therefore an urgent need to overcome the barriers that prevent efficient exploitation of the knowledge produced by the scientific community, enabling that knowledge to be taken into account appropriately in the formation of policies and the development of strategies. There is therefore much to be gained from putting into practice a set of coordinated activities that build on existing knowledge and make it more widely available.