Fulfilling the requirements for efficiency gains in weather and climate prediction will dominate model development for the next decade or more. Apparent speed-up factors of O(1000) can only be achieved from a significant and concerted investment in numerical methods, programming models and new, energy-efficient processor technologies at the same time. The European Commission funded projects ESCAPE and ESCAPE-2 pursue this development strategy focusing on selected function model components - called weather and climate dwarfs - that drive computing cost. The ESCAPE project compares and optimizes performance on conventional and novel processor types employing various programming options also taking into account alternative model formulations. ESCAPE-2 extends this approach to entire models, and lays the foundation for a weather and climate domain specific language concept that could provide a long-term solution for achieving performance and portability of codes for our community.