This week marked the end of the 5th European Climate Change Adaptation conference. With 9 thematic webinars in the run-up to a high-level event, this edition stood out both in form and content, bringing inspiration to people’s homes. RECEIPT takes you through the highlights of the final event, sharing our favourite moments and quotes.

The day started with some wise words from the Executive Vice President for the European Green Deal, Franz Timmermans. He reminded participants of the importance of the Climate Pact, of nature-based adaptation and of local solution and of scaling up adaptation solutions and the Horizon Europe missions.

“We are only as resilient as the most vulnerable among us”

Franz Timmermans

The first session, Inspiring action for a climate resilient Europe, established some context and provided inspiration for adaptation action and societal transformation in Europe. Former European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard stressed the importance of sharing data, sharing knowledge and sharing digital solutions to meet climate adaptation challenges. Her words were echoed by João Pedro Matos Fernandes, Portugal’s minister of environment, who added that “Momentum for climate action is in our favour”.

During the panel Inspiring climate adaptation action for transformation in Europe and beyond, we were rewarded a powerful quote by Sandrine Dixson-Declève, co-President of the Club of Rome:

Adaptation should no longer be seen as the poor cousin of climate action”

Sandrine Dixson-declève

In the panel moderated by Tara Shine from Change By Degrees, we were reminded that we’re not adapting to a different situation. Rather, we’re adapting to a changing situation over time. That requires flexibility and courage as we go along. Panelist Hans Bruyninckx stressed that, to base strong adaptation on nature, we first need strong nature.

You can watch the first session here.

The panel on Implementing local adaptation action reminded us that there’s no best approach when leveraging stakeholder inputs, but we need to connect multiple approaches and learn from natural systems. Panelists emphasised the need to look at adaptation at all scales, “from the paving in the garden from the paving in the cities”, but also across sectors.

The last panel of the morning, Creating connections and collaborations for climate adaptation action, took us through examples where successful inclusion of communities in adaptation action made a difference. These examples showed the importance of having bottom-up initiatives meeting the wider objectives defined at a policy maker level. “Without that enthusiasm and inclusion from the community, we’re not going to meet our Paris Agreement targets,” concluded Sally Stevens.

The second session can be viewed here.

Opening the afternoon session, Prof. Dr. Johan Rockström explained how, “at 1.2 degree celsius warming, the point we’ve reached right now, we are already starting to see invoices being sent back from the earth into communities, cities, nations and regions in terms of extreme events.” Droughts, heat waves, disease patterns, increased frequency and magnitude of different storms are just early warnings of what can continue amidst global warming.

Prof. Dr. Rockström concluded that “We’re seeing the emergence of a new narrative. It is not only necessary to avoid irreversible tipping points, but it also gives better outcomes for health, security and on the long term for peace.” We are in a very challenging, but also exciting moment. And that new narrative of sustainability as a pathway to success and equity must be central in discussions on adaptation and resilience.

In the panel ‘Inspiring individual and collective action for climate adaptation’, Virginia Murray said that “Climate change doesn’t have a vaccine, but we do know that governments, scientists, businesses and citizens can work together to overcome unprecedented challenges”. And now is the time to apply this collaborative approach to manage climate risks and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The concluding panel tackled the difficult question of “What do we want the EU to focus its attention on?”. Panelists evoked the need to create a recovery process that safeguards both people and the planet, and to make sure that the Just Transition really is just and inclusive.

To close the ECCA 2021 conference, John Bell, Director Healthy Planet from the DG Research and Innovation, took participants through his main takeaways of the day. He stated that “anxiety is not a policy”, we have to move together as we did for the pandemic. There has to be involvement from all levels, and the enthusiasm and ownership from the most local levels has to have support from regional, national and international policies. He concluded that adaptation and mitigation are part of the same approach. There will not be a climate neutral continent if there isn’t a climate neutral society ready to take on challenges that are already on their way.

The third session is available through this link.

About ECCA:

ECCA 2021 has turned the spotlight on the urgent needs to increase climate resilience in Europe and beyond. It focused on the importance to improve and accelerate the transfer of knowledge from research and innovation to policies and practices, including societal transformation and behavioural change. The goal of the conference was to inspire adaptation action by showcasing solutions, exchanging knowledge, creating connections, and encouraging dialogue on how to act more and faster at every level.

RECEIPT had the honour of co-organising the event alongside JPI Climate and the H2020 projects SINCERE and CASCADES.

Published on : 25 June 2021