New project launched for precipitation management and adapting to climate change in the settlements of Tát and Tokod

[Tát, 5 March 2015] More than 50 people attended at the opening of the project: “Elaborating a concept for precipitation management and adapting to climate change in the settlements of Tát and Tokod”. The aim of the project is to address water-related concerns in two Hungarian municipalities about 60 kilometres from Budapest. Tát and Tokod are settlements on the Danube bend that in recent years have come under increasing threat from severe flooding and high groundwater levels.

"We live in a time of modern flooding, and some have been predicting that the coming years will bring biblical-scale flooding disasters." Tat mayor Lajos Turi said during his kick-off meeting welcome speech. "While our local people have worked hard to make our towns 100 percent floodproof, our biggest problems are from drainage and groundwater. We have high hopes, however, that this EEA programme will help us to explore and manage these issues."

Following the mayor, Norwegian Ambassador to Hungary H.E. Tove Skarstein recognised the "need to adapt human and natural systems to climate change", citing the UN Panel's 2013 opinion that warming is "extremely likely". "As part of a binding agreement with the European Union, Hungary will receive EUR 7 million towards achieving common climate and climate policy goals." Sarstein explained, "And within this budget a further EUR 800,000 has been allocated for this project. And I must say that I am very happy with the local flavour of this project."

The REC's executive director Marta Szigeti Bonifert spoke next about the organisation's long history of "cooperation with experts, partners and stakeholders, both internationally and locally, to create sustainable systems".

The last speaker, prior to a series of technical presentations, was Karl Kerner from the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection, the donor programme partner. Kerner and his colleague at the directorate, Karen Tone Lie, have been contributing for three years to programme development, making several visits in the meantime to the REC for consultations. "The climate in Norway is lousy", Kerner told a chuckling audience. "We have everything except earthquakes and volcanos. And, according to climate scientists, everything is going to get worse. Now, we've all been adapting to climate and weather for 10,000 years, but the concept of climate change of human origin is new, and the big difference is in the necessity of planning, which involves a future dimension that, given human nature, is not easy." Kerner added that "We're happy to see a project focusing on actual measures, and we wish you the best of luck."

The kick-off meeting of the project followed by a number of technical presentations from the project partners and the Fund Operator, and continued in the afternoon with a meeting at Tat City Hall to discuss opportunities for bilateral cooperation.