Accelerating Adaptation Action: The Challenge for Adaptation Futures 2018

Richard J.T. Klein, recipient of the Burtoni Award for outstanding contributions to climate adaptation science, provides perspective on the upcoming Adaptation Futures 2018 conference.
Cape Town, South Africa
The Adaptation Futures 2018 conference will be held in Cape Town, South Africa, June 18-22. Photo: Kierran1 , via Gettyimages


SEI Senior Research Fellow Richard J.T. Klein, recipient of the Burtoni Award for outstanding contributions to climate adaptation science, provides perspective on the upcoming Adaptation Futures 2018 conference, held on 18-22 June in Cape Town.

Perspective on the Adaptation Futures 2018 conference

Two years ago, when the last Adaptation Futures conference was held, I was among those people asked to help to synthesise the results from what is the world’s premier international climate change adaptation event. This presented a challenge: climate change adaptation had grown into a very broad field of research, practice and policy. Key messages of the conference could be obscured by a confusion of tongues reflecting the diversity of disciplines, views and approaches relevant to adaptation. The cartoon below illustrates this diversity – and the challenge.

Illustration by René Rikkers.

Adaptation Futures 2018, to be held 18-22 June, takes place in an opportune place and at an opportune moment. For the first time, the conference arrives on the African continent, where the effects of climate change are on vivid display. The host city, Cape Town, has first-hand experience with the issue. Such was the severity of this year’s drought that the city feared that its running water would no longer flow from the region’s taps. Though the apocalyptic “Day Zero” scenarios have not come to pass, the city’s struggle with drought continues.

This year’s theme, “Dialogues for Solutions”, highlights the importance of exchanging views, of debate, and of furthering the scholarly and on-the-ground discourses on adaptation needs, opportunities and constraints. Increasingly urgent questions require answers that connect different types of knowledge, experiences and perspectives. To focus on one particular discipline would risk giving simplistic answers.

This is an issue that surfaced at the event two years ago. Thus, the 2016 conference deliberately chose to celebrate diversity, rather than to see it as a problem. At the same time, a push that began then must now gather steam. More attention must go to understanding and promoting adaptation solutions – that is, to accelerating adaptation action.

This conference, which serves as a showcase of leading adaptation research from around the world, is expected to attract more than 1,000 researchers, policy-makers and members of civil society. Co-hosted by the World Adaptation Science Programme (PROVIA), the conference will address a range of key questions. Among them:

  • What is the community learning about making adaptation work, at different spatial, institutional and time scales, in different geographies, and in different political and economic settings?
  • What are we learning from mistakes, unexpected outcomes and outright failure, as well as our successes?
  • How does adaptation support successful development, and when does it not?

SEI researchers will host and participate in a number of events, among them:

Throughout the conference:“The evolution of adaptation research, policy and practice”, an interactive exhibit based on an SEI working paper. The project is the result of a partnership between SEI and The Global Centre of Excellence for Climate Change Adaptation and Acclimatise Ltd.

Monday, 18 June:15:00 – 17:00: “Web-based platforms supporting climate action: continuing to learn and improve” (Session S87) with Julia Barrott, research fellow and weADAPT knowledge manager.

Tuesday, 19 June:11:30 – 13:15: “Online guidance for climate service design” (TS2000) in ToolShed 1.3 with research fellow Liz Daniels.

11:30-13:15: “The motion: global development is not adapting to climate change” (Session S23) with research fellow Kevin Adams.

16:30 – 18:15: “Creating new narratives for integrated approaches to CCA and DRR and transformation” (Session S114) with senior research fellow Sukaina Bharwani and research fellow Julia Barrott.

Wednesday, 20 June:9:15 – 11:15: “The Climate-Water-Energy-Land-Food Nexus: Security into Practice (Session S81) with Lisa Emberson, SEI York Centre Director.

14:15 – 16:00: “Science-stakeholder interaction to support adaptation decision-making to natural hazards: challenges and opportunities to meeting stakeholder needs” (Session S318) with research fellow Karin André.

16:30 -18:15: “Participatory climate services: improving their design, delivery and use” (Session S125) with senior research fellow Sukaina Bharwani, and research fellows Liz Daniels and Karin André.

16:30 – 18:15: “Adaptation science, policy and practice: reflection from Burtoni Award recipients” (Session S40) with Richard J.T. Klein, senior research fellow, who was the 2016 recipient of the award.

Thursday, 21 June:11:30 – 13:15: “What are we learning about South-South peer learning?” (Session S130) with SEI Oxford Director Ruth Butterfield, and weADAPT knowledge manager Julia Barrott.

11:30 – 13:15: “Joint knowledge production for improved climate services: insights from the Swedish forestry sector” (Session S319), with senior research fellow Åsa Gerger Swartling.

11:30 – 13:15: “The role of climate funds in the co-production of climate adaptation knowledge” (Session S236), with senior research fellow Sukaina Bharwani.

14:15 – 16:00: “PLACARD Connectivity Hub”, a sneak peak (TS 2001) in ToolShed 1.3 with senior research fellow Sukaina Bharwani.

14:15 – 16:00: “Private sector finance for NDC implementation in sub-Saharan Africa’s agriculture sector” (Session S401), with SEI research associate Nella Canales.


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