Adaptation Futures

Last week the Adaptation Futures 2016 conference took place in the World Trade Centre, Rotterdam. A three-day event with about 1700 participants from over 100 different countries! The largest-ever conference on adapting to climate change.

Door onze redactie

With the Paris Agreement, adaptation is set high on the agenda. It is time for concrete results and for action. Aim of the conference was that the attendees should return home inspired and with new knowledge gained in order to proceed to action and pass it on in their home-countries. Below, a selection of only some of the inspiring speeches and sessions that were given during the conference.

Adaptation is about people

Christiana Figueres, Secretary of the UNFCCC, was made an Officer in the Order of Oranje Nassau in the early morning of the 10th of May. Dutch Environment Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen presented the honour. Figueres wore the ribbon and medal with some pride, and said a few words to those gathered. “I want to thank each and every one of you, because you are here, brave enough to take up the challenge of adapting to climate change. We truly have all the representatives of all the sectors needed to meet the responsibilities we all share.” Figueres walked around the ceremonial chair, on which she had sat to receive the honour. She noted wryly, “These things are not made for short people.”

“We can think and act at the same time at three levels. The first one is the global level. The Paris agreement ties the adaptation goal to the temperature goals. It is finally acknowledged that there is a relationship between concentrations in the atmosphere, and that adaptive actions are needed. Scientists, close your ears – I’m going to use the figures in an irresponsible way”. Figueres takes us through the history of emissions and concludes that we have only 600 gigatonnes left if we want to get to a 1.5-degrees rise temperature. And this can be seen as a threat, “especially to developing countries. I’ve written a letter to the science community to swallow an alarm clock. We are going to make a difference in the next five years. We have to change radically in all of what we are doing.” The second level is national and subnational. “The most crucial, and the closest to my heart, is the local level—that is, the individual, personal, human level. This is where it should happen. Adaptation cannot be technology-centred. It is about the quality of life!”

“As you go from meeting to meeting, think of two women, and a teenage girl: of Fatoo, a single mother with three children whose home was washed away by the floods of 2009, and who is still wondering why. Think of Maharashta, a pregnant women who has suffered in the droughts in India. And think of Naome, a 15-year-old girl who cannot drink the water because of the high levels of salt it now contains. Think about them as individuals. Because there we have to make a difference.”

The silence in the room is enormous.

Figueres concludes: “Are we making the life of these women and girls any easier? That’s the question we have to ask ourselves every morning.”

Mobile industry holds the key to financial access

A plenary session that starts off the day is quite normal at conferences—unless the session features Queen Máxima of the Netherlands as keynote speaker. The Queen gave an inspiring speech about climate change and access to financial services, and in particular the urgency of opening up financial services to those who have thus far been denied access to it.

Queen Máxima took the podium in her capacity as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. She pointed out that worldwide 230 million people are affected by natural disasters caused by climate change. Financial inclusion, access to financial services, is vital in improving resilience both for individuals, households, communities and businesses, especially smallholder farmers and SME's, which are the backbone of any economy. Financial services can reduce their vulnerability. Today, two billion people are financially excluded. But there is one industry that shows broad potential to financial inclusion for these people—mobile telecommunications. In countries like Kenia, Tanzania and Uganda an app made it possible for the people to get solar energy.

Daily Adapt

During the conference a daily magazine was made: The Daily Adapt. Here you can read and learn about the sessions and speeches and an impression of the conference is given.
Daily Adapt - Tuesday
Daily Adapt - Wednesday
Daily Adapt - Thursday

18 mei 2016

Foto bovenaan: Daily Adapt - Visuele Notulen