Conference registration is now open!

Closing the climate adaptation gap: Unlocking opportunities for 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.

Themes

SESSION 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.

SESSION 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: 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 into adaptation action across different sectors.

THEME 4: Adapting to ‘too much’ or ‘too little’ water

Focusing on water resource management and flood risk management, this session examines the ways in which adaptation is being facilitated and/or constrained in different governance settings.

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. Adaptative 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 success examples and opportunities for reversing biodiversity decline through coordinated action.

Biodiversity

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 COP26 and 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 (https://adaptlockin.eu/), 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

SAVE THE DATE!

“Closing the climate adaptation gap: Unlocking opportunities for transformative change”

Adapt Lock-in is hosting an international (virtual) conference on 24-25 March 2022.

The conference will address the following themes:

  • Examining the adaptation gap through the lens of lock-ins
  • Adapting our coastlines – barriers, lock-in dynamics and opportunities for transformative change
  • Human health under extremes
  • Adapting to ‘too much’ or ‘too little’ water
  • Addressing the nature crisis – Adapting for nature and adapting with nature
  • Closing the adaptation gap – Next steps and unlocking opportunities

Registration opens January 2022

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.

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.

Desired outcome and impact – Through interactive discussions and critical debates we will co-produce a series of actions and recommendations for overcoming the barriers and lock-in dynamics that continue to hinder adaptation efforts, while highlighting opportunities for transformative change. These recommendations will be published in a short policy brief that will be made available to all. Collectively, we will contribute to the growing international conversation and calls for action emerging from, among others, the IPCC, the Climate Adaptation Summit, the Global Commission on Adaptation and COP26.

Logistics – The conference is free to attend and open to all. This event is being hosted by the Adapt Lock-in project (https://adaptlockin.eu/), 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]  

“We are not equal when it comes to heat” – Interview with Dr Lisanne Groen

Adapt Lock-in researcher, Dr Lisanne Groen, gave a recent interview with Missions Publiques on the intrinsic links between climate change and health.

Here are some key take home messages:

  • Climate change not only impacts physical health but also has significant implications for mental health. For instance, mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder may result from exposure to climate-related hazards such as floods.
  • Climate change exacerbates health inequalities, and it is vital that this is recognised policy responses to climate change.
  • However, mental health under climate change is still not on the radar in many countries. There is a need to raise the profile of mental health and ensure policies are designed accordingly.

Lisanne also talks about a range of other issues, such as the importance of including indigenous peoples’ knowledge in European climate policies and ensuring that consultation processes are inclusive and accessible to all. She also reflects on the role of the EU in international environmental negotiations.

The full article can be accessed HERE

Mental Health

Climate anxiety and why it’s not all bad, explained to children

Several German newspapers published an interview with Julie King on September 16th. Julie explains to children all about climate anxiety, why it occurs, what to do about it, and how it can actually be helpful for inspiring action. Climate anxiety, or “Klimaangst” in German, describes of chronic uncertainty, worry, stress, and apprehensive expectation caused the climate crisis. “Klimangst” is a sort of umbrella term that also describes the frustration, helplessness, anger and hopeless, among many other emotions, stemming from witnessing extreme events on the news, thinking about the climate crisis, and the widespread inaction to mitigate and adapt.

“Klima angst” interview with Julie King

The Littlest Duckling of the Team: Julie’s PhD journey so far

After earning a master’s degree in Sustainability Economics and Management from the University of Oldenburg with a focus on environmental planning, I spent a few years working for a regional development organization in the Northwest of Germany. One of my tasks there was assisting in a project focused on municipal adaptation to climate change from 2014 to 2016. A ket takeaway from the project was that many smaller, rural communities did not recognize the need or have the capacity to proactively plan for future impacts of climate change. Although most interactions with citizens and stakeholders were positive, one interaction with a group of politicians and practitioners was rather shall we say … disenchanting. While the politicians were eager to learn about solutions and low-hanging fruit to alleviate hotspots during flash flooding, some of the practitioners refused to believe that any of the suggested measures or approaches were realistic or could possibly be effective. It was shortly after that meeting that I saw the job posting for a PhD research position within the Adapt Lock-in project. My first-hand experiences motivated me to learn more about why adaptation to climate change appears to still be struggling as a policy issue, despite decades of research, increasing amounts of data on regional climate change impacts, and federal and state funding for projects.

Closely intertwined with the research goals of the Adapt Lock-in project, my PhD focuses on the systemic forces, both hindering and enabling, state-level policies to adapt to the impacts of climate change in Germany. The following main research questions provide the basis for my research:

  • Scoping and taking stock – How are German state governments and policies addressing climate change impacts and implementing solutions?
  • Searching for explanations – What are the reasons for the varying levels of adaptation policy action?
  • Looking for solutions – Which factors or mechanisms may contribute to more effective climate change adaptation policy and action?

In the first step of my research, I conducted an analysis of the climate change adaptation strategies of all of the sixteen states of Germany to explore the range of approaches and the extent of their policy commitments.  State governments are suggested to be key leverage points for enabling adaptation actions. Clear commitments can increase collaboration and innovations in local adaptation efforts (Jurgilevich et al. 2019; Vogel et al. 2020). In federalist systems, such as Germany, state governments wield the authority over various policy sectors and the power to instigate adaptation action through their jurisdiction over the municipalities. Compared to local governments, state governments are equipped with larger administrations, more financial resources, and a broader scope than single municipalities. This combination of authority and resources provides state governments with the capacity to formulate policies that effectively address regional climate change impacts.

An eager Julie does her first research interview at the Federal Ministry of Environment

In search of a deeper understanding of the policy dynamics at play, I’ve chosen to lead the research in our project case studies exploring policy responses to the following risks related to the following climate change impacts:

  • Heat stress impacts on human health (in Bavaria)
  • Extreme weather event impacts on mental health (in Saxony-Anhalt)
  • Coastal risks, such as sea-level rise and coastal erosion (in Schleswig-Holstein)

These cases studies were selected based on several criteria, though other combinations would also be fruitful for comparison: a mix of states appearing to be “leaders” and “laggards”, the recency of the available documents and data, the geographic distribution throughout Germany, and the states’ respective exposure to relevant climate change parameters. To some extent, the choice of case studies was also influenced by the availability of information on climate adaptation policies and initiatives and statements and opinions from the screening interviews with stakeholders at the federal level.

My research will be nested within the medium-sized case population of the project and focus primarily on the case studies from Germany. This small comparison allows a deeper analysis of two or three cases within the same national context. By drawing on data from documents and interviews with key stakeholders, the goal is to understand the processes which link different relevant factors to the outcome, in this case, limited policy changes to address cross-sectoral issues at the state level. For more in-depth analyses of one or two cases, I plan to use process-tracing to analyze processes, sequences, and conjunctures of events within the cases, rather than the outcomes alone. In both within-case and cross-case inferences this method is often viewed as an appropriate approach for causal research and the search for explanations of outcomes.

I’m thankful to be included in the Adapt Lock-in research team as the only PhD student. As an early career researcher, I’ve been able to learn a lot from the team already and have fun discussing ideas and findings at eye level (from my perspective at least!),while making jokes and drinking wine together during our first in-person meetings in the Netherlands and digitally in times of the pandemic!

The Adapt Lock-in Team getting used to life on Zoom!

Team Zoom Photo
Team Zoom Photo