In the opening plenary of the 3rd European Climate Change Adaptation (ECCA) Conference, it was stressed that young people must be at the heart of climate change. When it comes to the most pressing environmental issue, we are the key stakeholder and part of our role at 2050 is communicating this to other young people. During this conference, members of our Operational Teams and Board will be attending sessions of interest and will use the 2050 blog as a space to report back on what they’ve learned and how young people can get involved.
On Wednesday, the 2050 Climate Group was out in full force with attendance from Rebecca DeVivo, Sam Curran, Lowri Walker, Katy Syme and David Townsend (Board) and Kate Chambers and Bente Klein (Operational Team Members).
Pictured L to R Sam Curran, Lowri Walker, Bente Klein, David Macpherson(2050 Alumnus), Rebecca DeVivo, Kate Chambers and Katy Syme
Opening Plenary, Notes provided by Sam Curran
Today is innovation day! This is an opportunity to hear from those small business and start ups that want to help overcome those challenges that climate change keeps throwing at us (we’ll cover the Innovation Day in a separate blog).
We kicked off the day with a panel discussion with Baroness Brown (Chair of UK adaptation committee) and Claus Kondrup (Head of EC Adaptation) among others.
Baroness Brown took to the podium first to talk about the approach that is being taken in the UK, well England at least, as the environment is a devolved power in Scotland. We are still working our how we need to adapt, the data isn’t completely clear, and we rely on professional judgement to a large degree.
Climate change is here and happening now. We are not yet seeing the action required in this area. We are already seeing the risks to health and wellbeing due to increased temperatures – especially in our cities. We need to adapt our buildings now as they are here to stay.
We need to stop locking in problems. We are about to build tens of thousands of homes and buildings on flood plains. It took us 15 years to plan and build the Thames barrier. If we are to safeguard the country by 2050 we need to start planning and building right now! If it takes this long to build resilient societies then it is absolutely critical that today’s youth are right at the heart of the decision making.
We need to stop the reduction of our green spaces. Although in slightly better news apparently home owners have stopped paving over their gardens. Keep on gardening folks!
Adaptation is much newer than mitigation. At the EU it really only became a thing in 2014. The commission is planning an public consultation at the end of October. This will allow people to shape the future EU policy on climate change adaptation policy. Young people, 2050 Climate Group – let’s make sure our voices are heard!
No mention of the Donald and his pulling out of the Paris agreement. Hopefully this is a sign that the UK and EU know that they can’t rely on anyone else.
Adaptation cultures: Knowledge, values and practice
Sam and Rebecca attended this morning session. Notes provided by Rebecca.
In this session, we heard from three different researchers exploring the links between culture and climate change adaptation studies and practices. The researchers suggest that adaptation is strongly linked to its social and cultural environment both as practice and policy.
Over the last 30-50 years there has been an intensification of communication and knowledge exchange, which has led to a global constellation of cultures. When it comes to climate change adaptation, how far do we need standardisation or how far do we need to design for local particularities? In the first talk, Dr. Thorsten Heimann from Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space looked at how societies deal with climate change risk. Based on his research, he found that in 4 different European countries climate change was being discussed in completely different ways. This is primarily due to the different values, beliefs and identities each culture has. (This wasn’t news to me, but was really interesting to here it in practice in relation to flooding. (On a side note, I’d highly recommend reading How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate by Andrew Hoffmann))
In this research, culture was defined as shared knowledge and practices. In relation to climate change, a climate change culture also exists. This culture can be defined as shared knowledge of vulnerability, shared resilience practices (adaptation or mitigation).
One interesting thing Thorsten mentioned was the fact that the reason for more climate sceptics in Poland relates to the large number of conservatives and the history of the country and reliance on coal mining. The main take home from this session was understanding that having different values, beliefs and identity means that there will be different approaches to tackling climate change! It’s important to acknowledge this and not rely on one size fits all solutions.
Food security and supply chain resilience under a changing climate, Notes provided by Kate
This sessions was a series of presentations and panel discussion showing four different perspectives on the challenges facing our global food systems under climate change. Richard Tiffin provided an economic overview of agriculture, and how extreme ‘shocks’ could impact. Richard emphasised the importance of collaborations and sharing of data, to help us understand a very complex food system that no-one currently understands!
All speakers stressed the importance of long-term, systematic thinking around complex food security issues. There is a need for experts to share data, and for policy makers and scientists not to be reductionist with this information. There was also a recurring message around the power of the consumer – food systems are partly dependent on consumer demand. The supermarkets are pushing growers and farmers for ‘perfection’ because of this expectation.
Discussing Coherence: from national adaptation planning to achieving global adaptation and sustainable development, Notes provided by Bente Klein
The goal of this session was to discuss how the reporting obligations and adaptation planning in the Paris Agreement, Sendai Framework and the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).
One suggested way forward is that each and every country needs to set a baseline for itself. Every country needs to say that this is my desired level of resilience, depending on the national circumstances they can then be assessed quantitatively or qualitatively. Then it is up to the countries to agree what needs support or not. Coherence is desirable to ease any reporting burden on developing countries, as reporting on three different conventions puts a lot of stress on these countries. Next to spending a lot of time to find the right indicators, it should be questioned whether it is not more useful to spend time working on qualitative assessment. Further discussion included Loss & Damage.
How climate services can enable successful urban adaptation, Notes provided by Katy Syme
Five academics presented their research projects on climate services which have helped other organisations with urban adaptation.
Amsterdam University of Life sciences presented on a project to help the Dutch government reach their 2020 goal to have all streets that are being constructed or reconstructed to be climate resilient. This is needed to encourage adaptation (not a current priority). They developed 10 example typologies with different resilient options versus ‘traditional’ design, including 100 year costed designs for building, maintenance, and the cost of flooding. Adaptation approaches included lowering streets to allow for water storage, and green infrastructure. For a similar cost, a climate ready alternative can be retrofitted in most situations. They have produced a free online book containing the typologies and adaptation examples. They also considered the value of the different examples (eg health benefits of greening)
Angela Connelly (University of Manchester) produced flood disadvantage map for pilot areas in Scotland. They mapped socio-spatial vulnerability, including vulnerability of place. This is an open web-GIS tool, like the ClimateJust (JRF funded) project. There is a focus on co-production measures in the development of the mapping and using maps to help start conversations with disparate groups / sectors.
Stay tuned for the final day where Board Member and previous Chair of 2050 Climate Group, Elizabeth Dirth, will be presenting at the closing plenary!
Please note, we are keen to try and report daily and as such, these reports may be brief. It’s possible that we might elaborate on some of the learned topics in future blogs.
About ECCA 2017 (taken from website)
“The theme of ECCA 2017 is ‘Our Climate Ready Future’. Our vision is that this conference will inspire and enable people to work together to discover and deliver positive climate adaptation solutions that can strengthen society, revitalise local economies and enhance the environment. We are bringing together the people who will deliver action on the ground – from business, industry, NGOs, local government and communities – to share knowledge, ideas and experience with leading researchers and policymakers.”
Reporting from ECCA 2017, Day 1
Reporting from ECCA 2017, Day 3