Nordic Conference on Climate Change Adaptation: Some key insights

More than 400 climate change adaptation experts gathered at the Nordic Conference on Climate Change Adaptation in Nordköping from 23-25 October 2018. The conference provided an excellent arena for exchanging insights and experiences on what successful climate change adaptation means in both theory and practice. 

On the third day of the NOCCA-conference, around 60 participants joined the session "From adaptation to transformation: What if climate change adaptation is not enough?".


The objective of the session was to explore how adaptation and transformation together can contribute to an empowering discourse that supports political agency and collaborative actions to reduce the impacts and risks of dangerous climate change. 


The session started off with 5 presentations, followed by a world cafe. Below are some of the key insights from the session:


Key insight 1: As the observed and projected impacts of climate change become more visible and better understood, it is increasingly recognized that adaptation as small adjustments may be insufficient and that “transformational adaptations” that involve novel, large-scale actions will be required. 


Key insight 2: There are increasing calls for more integrated approaches to adaptation. Such approaches recognize that adaptation involves more than technical and behavioral responses. Adaptation is a social and cultural process that is non-linear, dynamic, and sometimes unpredictable. 


Key insight 3: Successful adaptation should be seen as a process of social transformation that shifts systems and cultures, with strong links to mitigation and the Sustainable Development Goals.

 Relevant points raised: 

  • Policies and actions need to integrate adaptation, mitigation and sustainable development
  • Adaptation is a social response to climate change -- not merely a technical one. It is part of social change and development. 
  • Adaptation and transformation are never neutral. Adaptation responses have implications for equity and social justice. One persons or group´s adaptation may increase the vulnerability of others, including future generations. 
  • Champions (ildsjeler) are critical to successful adaptation. 
  • The role of interests, politics and power relations should receive more attention.  Adaptation is never apolitical, and it is important to highlight understandings of whose interests are at risk and who is likely to benefit from maintaining the status quo.  
  • Barriers to adaptation: There are many structural and systemic barriers to adaptation and mitigation, political, cultural, and institutional barriers to adaptation.
  • Ethical dimensions of adaptation should be addressed. Is it ethical to promote adaptation as a solution while ignoring or bypassing mitigation opportunities? 
  • Collaboration is essential for successful adaptation. 
  • It is important to showcase the good examples. 
  • Focus on what engages people and local communities, and to expand their spheres of influence when working on adaptation. 
  • Climate change adaptation has an emotional edge -- yet emotions have thus far received relatively little attention in adaptation research and practice.   
Published Nov. 5, 2018 1:46 PM - Last modified Nov. 6, 2018 9:43 PM