The European Union’s strategy to adapt to the risks of climate change needs to be much more proactive and ambitious in order to reduce the risk of natural disasters such as flooding, insurers said in response to a consultation on the issue.

The European Commission is asking for thoughts on the EU’s current strategy to adapt to climate change, set out in 2013, and what, if any, changes need to be made to it.

Industry trade body Insurance Europe said the EU strategy needs to shift to more preventative behaviour.

“This should include enforcement of risk-adverse policies, such as building codes, flood defences and avoidance of construction in high-risk zones,” Insurance Europe said.

The EU’s original 2013 strategy was useful, but it did not sufficiently address the future impact of climate change and did not put enough emphasis on the ‘pre-disaster’ phase, the trade body said.

With extreme weather events already becoming more frequent and severe, mitigating the economic, social and environmental impact of a changing climate was not enough and more focus was needed on adaptation, the group said.

Specifically, it called for the release of high-quality data on adaptation measures and for the EU to explore the use of public-private partnerships to ensure often costly adaptation measures were approved.

The EU also needed to improve the ability of insurers to play their part by coordinating with governments to make sure adaptation measures were enforced across the region, thereby helping to encourage preventative behaviour, the group said.