A core aspect of living systems is their ability to adapt to their environment and to environmental change. There are two different forms of adaptation: 1) the short-term physiological, neurobiological and behavioural responses of individuals to their local conditions, 2) the long-term eco-evolutionary response of populations, ecological communities and ecosystems to challenges imposed by their environment. Traditionally, these two forms of adaptation have been studied largely separately, by different scientific communities. Yet, the short-term responses of individuals have been shaped by evolution, while the course and outcome of evolution strongly depends on the phenotypic plasticity of individuals. In the Adaptive Life programme we aim to integrate both approaches, crossing traditional borders of research fields and institutes, providing new foundations for the life sciences.