Spotlight Activity: EU’s Research and Innovation Project Convenes at Major Learning Conference
The biennial European Climate Change Adaptation conference is comprised of projects that have received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Framework Programme. Working together to prepare for change, the fourth ECCA 2019 conference was hosted in Lisbon from May 28 to 31 2019.
In 2010, the first global conference on adaptation was held in Gold Coast, Australia under the umbrella of the UN Environment Programme of Research on Climate Change Vulnerability. This has inspired a group of European participants to organize Europe-focused events in the alternate years. The European Commission agreed to support the conference series, assigning management of the events to project coordinators of three EU-funded adaptation research projects.
ECCA 2019 provided an opportunity to share and learn from professionals in adaptation, while discovering new products, research, and alternative approaches to engaging with stakeholders. The three projects which shared the organization and communications for ECCA 2019 were (i) PLACARD interchange, a hub for dialogue, knowledge exchange and collaboration between disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation communities; (ii) BINGO, whose aim is to provide practical knowledge and tools to end users, water managers, and decision and policy makers affected by climate change to enable them to better cope with all climate projections, including droughts and floods; and (iii) RESCUE, Europe’s first large-scale innovation and urban resilience project improving the capability of cities to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from significant multi-hazard threats with minimum damage.
ECCA’s main themes for this year focused on:
- Data, methods, and approaches in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction
- Co-production of knowledge, solutions, and services
- Communication, data-sharing, and decision support
- Institutions, governance, citizens, and social justice
- Global climate challenges
- Climate risk management and resilience
Being a scientific and technical conference, rather than political, a number of messages emerged: to support and stimulate efforts to increase climate adaptation and risk reduction by various societal factors. Among these messages were a number of research gaps that are of critical importance for future research planning in Europe and internationally.
ECCA 2019 aimed to meaningfully and creatively engage young people and give them a voice to express themselves about climate change and possible responses. This is to reflect the fact that, at the time of the conference, there were few young people participating in public decisions around climate change worldwide. These same youngsters were disproportionately affected by disasters and climate change hazards. They had limited voices in the decisions and policies related to disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and community resilience. Recently, the trend regarding youth participation has been reversed as we have seen young people participating in climate change leadership roles as well as youth-led efforts such as Fridays for the Future and the Extinction Rebellion.
Status: Right Direction
In its effort to tackle climate change adaptation issues, the EU is supporting a series of events to engage a broad range of actions in society, share information, knowledge, and to support innovation and related projects. The EU is seeking to make Europe a model for the rest of the world by actively and positively tackling environmental issues. However, the EU climate policy is established on a European level while its implementation is the responsibility of each Member State. Thus, the engagement of actors lie in the hands of national governments. Individual national plans of each Member State demonstrate a European-wide absence of the engagement of all stakeholders such as small non-state actors and local actors’ contributions in the efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Netherlands is the only European country whose government is aware that the contribution of all stakeholders is necessary to achieve the country’s economy wide target. The fact that ECCA 2019 gave special attention to young people is a major step forward in engaging a wider group of stakeholders. The young population are mostly marginalized while they are considered the essence of a brighter future. A hot topic such as the environment and climate change will have direct and indirect implications on the lives of those young people in the future, thus the importance and need of their engagement and contribution besides all other stakeholders.
Dear Mr. Diogo de Gusmão-Sørensen,
We would like to congratulate you on a successful organization of the ECCA 2019 conference as well as for the European Commission support and engagement in climate adaptation action. We would like to stress the importance of engaging various stakeholders and actors of our society by giving them the chance to have their voices heard on a hot topic such as climate adaptation action. We’ve lately observed a global youth movement calling for rapid movement to tackle climate change. This event marks a major change in global society as it alarms governments of the awareness and also the power of the most vulnerable and marginalized segments of the society, the youth. We would like to praise your step forward to actively engaging the youth. This critical step is achieving full engagement, empowerment, and resilience of our global society.
We are looking forward to working on climate action together.
With our respectful and best regards,
Send Action Alert Message to:
Mr. Diogo de Gusmão-Sørensen
European Commission Coordinator and Chair of the Executive Committee
Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 200