Conference on Climate Change Adaptation, Helsinki, Finland, 29-31 August 2012

Update: Conference photos have been added to "Programme and Outputs"   31 Oct 2012
    Presentations have been added to "Programme and Outputs"   1 Oct 2012

Words of Welcome
Welcome to the web site of the Second Nordic International Conference on Climate Change Adaptation that was held in Helsinki on 29-31 August 2012.

Climate change is rarely out of the news nowadays, and almost everyone seems to have an opinion about it. The scientific evidence for ongoing anthropogenic climate change is overwhelming, and impacts of changes over recent decades are already apparent in the Nordic region, with reduced sea ice, lengthening growing seasons and altered river flows. However, with global carbon dioxide emissions surging back to record levels in 2010, there now seems little prospect of meeting the internationally agreed target of limiting global mean warming to below 2°C relative to pre-industrial times by reducing emissions. Indeed, societies may have to prepare themselves for much more warming than that, as well as the many consequences that would result.
While there are certainly situations in which impacts of warming may be judged beneficial, the effects in most parts of the world are expected to be overwhelmingly adverse. Moreover, some of the more damaging impacts may already be emerging through extreme weather events, such as record heatwaves, heavy precipitation and high winds, possible harbingers of greater climatic variability and unpredictability to come. It is clear that effective adaptation will be essential for coping with inevitable climate change. But are societies sufficiently aware of and prepared for these accelerating and unprecedented changes? This was a central question posed for participants at the Second Nordic International Conference on Climate Change Adaptation. 
Download Conference Overview here
Download Detailed Conference Programme here

Adaptation Research meets Adaptation Decision-Making 

The Conference sought to identify common ground between adaptation research and adaptation decision-making by comparing experiences, reporting new insights and revealing key gaps in knowledge. Some of the other questions asked included: 
  • Many countries have developed climate change adaptation strategies, but do decision-makers really have the appropriate information, expertise and tools available to them to implement adaptation decisions? 
  • What adaptation research is underway and where is information currently lacking?
  • Is it more sensible to wait and see what happens, or to implement adaptation measures right away?
  • How should adaptation policies be targeted – where are they needed most and who should be responsible for implementing them? 
  • Do the adaptation decisions of today need to be effective in 30 years time? In 100 years time?
  • What is the cost of climate change to the environment and society, how do we measure that cost and who foots the bill?

In some respects, adaptation policy seems to be outpacing research, with strategies being designed and questions asked for which answers, or even methods of obtaining answers, are not yet available. On the other hand, research on some aspects of climate change adaptation has developed rapidly in recent years, and this new knowledge could be of great benefit in offering solutions for practical adaptation challenges. These were two persuasive reasons for wishing to bring adaptation decision-makers and researchers together in such a forum. A third reason was to promote an effective international and multi-disciplinary exchange of ideas on adaptation to climate change, drawing extra inspiration from the attractive Nordic setting and warm local hospitality. 

Who attended?

The Conference was open to scholars and practitioners interested in climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation. Invitations were extended to researchers across a range of disciplines, public and private decision-makers, regional and local planners, professionals with a background in risk management as well as representatives of NGOs and international organisations. There was an emphasis in some sessions on adaptation in a Nordic setting, but participation and experiences from outside the region was also strongly encouraged.

Conference Venue

The Conference was be held at Conference Hotel Rantapuisto, in a superb location adjacent to the Gulf of Finland. There was a large auditorium for plenary sessions, numerous meeting rooms capable of accommodating parallel sessions and a purpose built exhibition hall for exhibiting posters. Lunches were offered in two large hotel restaurants, and refreshments adjacent to the meeting rooms. There was also the possibility to stay at the hotel during the Conference, with all available rooms being reserved for participants and offered on a first come, first served basis.