Rural Development Programmes (RDPs) are a step to mainstream climate concerns in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). National and Regional RDPs for 2014 – 2020 include instruments that promote mitigation and adaptation strategies for agriculture to enhance biodiversity, environmental value of rural landscapes, efficient water management and the transition to a low carbon bio-based economy with reduced rates of GHG and ammonia emissions. This contribution presents a comparative assessment of actions undertaken by two EU Member states, the Netherlands (NL) and Hungary (HU) (national programmes), and two regions, Emilia Romagna (ER) and Valencia (VLC), which represent distinct agricultural and forest systems. It shows that EU regions selected for the case studies move towards mainstreaming climate concerns in Pillar II policies. In the sample, actions on ecosystems under Priority 4 (‘Restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems’) represent between 30 and 50% of the foreseen RDP expenditure for the whole period 2014- 2020. Actions under Priority 5 (‘Resource efficiency and shift to a low carbon and resilient economy’) account for less than 20% of the RDP expenditure. Implementation and monitoring become key factors of success to guarantee that measures are not cosmetic and they actually influence the transition to a sustainable bio-economy. Further efforts should contribute to progressively integrate innovative solutions in future adjustments of RDPs. Finally, further analysis of the regulatory framework, red tape, cultural change, and social innovations will be required to improve RDP effectiveness to face climate change challenges.