Conference registration is now open!

Closing the Climate Adaptation Gap and Unlocking Transformative Change

Virtual conference 24-25th March 2022

Please register HERE

Aim & goalsTo effectively adapt and keep pace with the rising impacts of climate change we cannot maintain business-as-usual. However, a range of barriers, path dependencies and self-reinforcing ‘lock-in’ dynamics are impeding efforts to adapt and are proving difficult to change. While ‘carbon lock-ins’ have increasingly been studied in climate mitigation, this conference turns the spotlight towards the lock-ins restricting climate adaptation and seeks to understand how these play out across different policy sectors and countries. Only by understanding these can we identify strategies for ‘unlocking’ opportunities for transformative change. The conference will bridge the gap between research and practice as we collectively try to accelerate adaptation to climate change. This will be a valuable opportunity to share knowledge, experiences and best practices across countries and policy sectors, such as flood & coastal erosion risk management, biodiversity, forestry, water and health. Our speakers have been invited based on their established expertise in these areas.


THEME 1: Examining the adaptation gap through the lens of lock-ins

This session will delve into the theoretical and conceptual understanding of ‘lock-ins’. Key questions will be addressed around what constitutes a lock-in dynamic, how lock-ins are created and sustained over time, and the added value of the lock-in concept for understanding the growing adaptation gap that we see. Our speakers will reflect on how lock-ins are conceptualised and understood from different disciplinary perspectives and sectors.

THEME 2: Adapting our coastlines – barriers, lock-in dynamics and opportunities for transformative change

At the front line of sea level rise, coastal adaptation is vital. Yet, coastal management is notably complex, as various policy sectors, with different institutional arrangements, agendas, and sometimes competing interests, converge. This presents both challenges and opportunities for adaptation. This session takes a cross-sectoral perspective and highlights the systemic barriers and lock-in dynamics that continue to hinder adaptation efforts, alongside innovative examples where these are being overcome.

THEME 3: Confronting the ‘jaws of death’ in water resource management

As demands for water continue to rise, while supply falls as increasing climate impacts take hold, some policy makers have likened the looming threat of water scarcity to the “jaws of death”. Householders, energy producers, industry, agriculture and wildlife all stand to be affected. In many cases, however, they also have the potential to contribute to responses that bring a range of benefits. Focusing on developments in water resource management, this session examines the ways in which adaptation may be facilitated and/or constrained in different governance settings.

THEME 4: Human health under extremes

Climate change is creating and exacerbating physical and mental health problems in both direct and indirect ways, as it places increasing burdens on health and social care services, amongst other related policy areas through which health effects are mitigated. While health is slowly rising up the political agenda, considerable hurdles remain. This session explores the constraints and opportunities for embedding health aspects into adaptation action across different sectors.

THEME 5: Addressing the nature crisis – adapting for and with nature

Climate change, amongst a host of other land use pressures, is driving worrying declines in biodiversity and habitat loss. Adaptive action is not only essential for preserving nature, but nature-based solutions are also a fundamental strategy for adapting to the increasing threats posed by climate change. Working for and with nature will be essential. Focusing on both sides of this equation, this session aims to stimulate cross-sectoral and cross-country learning on the maladaptive practices and lock-ins contributing to the nature crisis, as well as opportunities and success stories for reversing biodiversity decline through coordinated action.


THEME 6: Closing the adaptation gap – Next steps

To close the conference, this final session will bring together the key lessons across the previous sessions and observe the similarities and differences across policy areas, sectors and countries. Looking forward, the session will reflect on opportunities for closing the adaptation gap in the wake of UNFCCC COP26 and the Covid-19 pandemic. As a collective, we will identify (and vote!) on priority recommendations for ‘unlocking’ maladaptive lock-in dynamics and accelerating adaptation action.

The full agenda will be published soon! The conference will take place over 2 days and you are free to come in and out of the sessions of your choice.

Attendees – The conference will bring together academics, practitioners and policymakers across countries. Diversity is at the heart of this conference as we strive to represent different policy sectors, types of expertise and experiences across countries, to facilitate knowledge exchange and accelerate adaptation action.

Logistics – The conference is free to attend and open to all. This event is being hosted by the Adapt Lock-in project (, funded by DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), the Dutch Research Council NWO (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek) and the Economic and Social Research Council, UK.

Please direct any queries to [email protected]  

Please register HERE