Adaptation Futures 2016

Published on
May 18, 2016

From 10-13 May the 4th bi-annual global Adaptation Futures 2016 conference took place in Rotterdam. The first one was held in Brisbane in 2010, the second one in Tucson in 2012 and the third one in Fortaleza in 2014.

These conferences are organised under the umbrella of the Global Programme of Research on Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation (PROVIA), this time hosted by the Government of the Netherlands and the European Commission.

CALM team members were involved in the organisation of AF2016, using their experiences of earlier climate conferences (Climate changes Spatial Planning, Knowledge for Climate, Deltas in Times of Climate Change I and II) a familiar and attractive mix was cooked of plenary and parallel sessions, side and special events, (science) posters, tool shed, business expo, short films, awards and other elements, attracting more than 1700 participants from over 100 countries.

The Dutch government was well represented to advertise their views, with the Minister of Infrastructure and Environment, Melanie Schultz van Haegen, in the opening session, the Minister of the Environment, Sharon Dijksma, in the closing session, and Queen Máxima in the middle, in her capacity as United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development.

Plenary sessions were ably facilitated by UK science journalist Vivienne Parry, and had panels with interesting speakers, e.g. UNFCCC secretary Christiana Figueres and retired adaptation expert Ian Burton.

The size of the conference was both a strength (who was not there?) and a weakness (but how can you find who or what I want?). With 20 parallel sessions going on at any one time, and a lot of networking possibilities in the margins of the sessions, one necessarily had to make a choice.

The conference was also a great opportunity to meet old colleagues and friends from bygone days from different continents and to meet new young colleagues.

Four not necessarily new but important dimensions from a CALM point of view: urban adaptation, integration of adaptation in other research and policy areas, working with the private sector, and adaptation finance. In all these areas, as compared to the first Adaptation Futures conference in Brisbane, the emphasis has clearly shifted from analysis of potential impacts and risks to finding and implementing solutions. Adaptation is increasingly framed from a development point of view, with the 2015 UNFCCC Paris Agreement connected to other global policies, like the 2015 Sendai Framework (disaster risk reduction), the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit (23-24 May, Turkey), and the new Habitat Urban Agenda (Ecuador, October 2016). The organisers had put a great deal of effort in the engagement of the private sector, with a number of interesting sessions, e.g. with the World Business Council on Sustainable Development and the consultants DNV-GL and Acclimatise having brought a major part of their adaptation staff. Some participants thought that the private sector presence was too strong, others applauded the effort made by the organisers. These sessions underlined the differences between the academic and the commercial interests in terms of objectives, language and working practices, making the currently popular attempts to promote co-creation of knowledge and private-public-academic partnerships a very tough nut to crack. Financing adaptation is also a relatively new challenge, both in industrialized countries and developing countries. For both regions the development of multi-objective business cases were discussed, and as to the LDCs, there will be a huge demand for knowledge related to the projects and programmes to be funded through the various and growing UNFCCC Climate Funds

CALM team members were involved in:

  • The Local Organising Committee
  • Social media
  • Chairing sessions
  • Presentations and posters
  • Special events, such as the launch of the ERA4CS submission portal

A number of students were acting as rapporteurs of the science sessions. Two members of the Wageningen UR library with a team of students took care of uploading all the presentations on site.

>> Read more on the results pages

>> Read more Wageningen UR news article (in Dutch)