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Event

How to foster “just adaptation”

Watch the recording of a webinar discussing insights from experts from around the world about how to foster “just adaptation” at a time of escalating climate risks.

27 September 2023

The essence of this webinar could be distilled into a single sentence:

“Climate change affects everyone, but it does not affect everyone equally.”

If only the ways to address this could also be so simply put, so simply devised, and so simply executed. But of course, the issues that are related to this are complex and interwoven. And adaptation itself is an amorphous and evolving thing.

The world is in urgently in search of ideas and answers. We must find ways to mitigate climate change and to adapt to its unavoidable impacts – and, crucially, we must find ways to do this without taking actions that merely shift risks to someplace else or someone else – particularly to those who are least equipped to cope – or to simply leave the problem – which will only grow – to subsequent generations.

The task is large. This was formally underlined earlier this month by the synthesis report for the first Global Stocktake of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – a sort of report card on progress for the Paris Agreement goals. The report issued a call for “systems transformations” that are necessary to create conditions for “just resilience”. It underlined the need for a step change in action – in collective action by all.

Of course, we do not need to see the official document to understand this. We are all witnesses to this. We have all been horrified by regular headlines as the weather ricochets between droughts and floods, and as fires and storms reach historic proportions – with human tragedies in their wake.

Addressing these challenges is the central mission of our times. Every additional increment of global warming increases the risks. There is no single endpoint when a community can be declared fully resilient – meaning our mission will never be declared over and accomplished.

How then can the world ensure that “just resilience” emerges at this time of escalating risk? What are the hallmarks of measures that can help the most vulnerable groups and can ensure that their voices are heard? How can sharing and learning from adaptation successes and failures help support the change needed?

These are the questions we put to our expert panel in a webinar launching the first in a series of ongoing conversations about key issues to inform climate change adaptation practice and research. 

Experts working at the frontier of climate change adaptation practice and research from around the world discussed key issues.

Srilata Kammila, Head of Climate Change Adaptation, for the UN Development Programme, gave a keynote speech.

Key point: Adaptation is a global challenge that requires collective action. It must be led by equity and justice, using processes that allow vulnerable communities to play an active role in decision-making. Three principles to advance just adaptation: 1) Vulnerable communities must be active participants; 2) Equitable resources allocation, including financing; 3) Gender equality.

The following panellists gave presentations:

Presentation by Pirawan Wongnithisathaporn

Pirawan Wongnithisathaporn, Environment Programme Officer, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)  

Key point: Indigenous People are resilient and hold many solutions to issues that confront them, but they face important barriers when it comes to climate adaptation. This is not because they lack resilience, but because they are too often left out of adaptation decisions. The primary step to including them in decision-making and planning is to recognize their indigenous rights, and land rights, in particular.

Dhesigen Naidoo, Head of Adaptation for the South African Presidential Climate Commission

Key point: We face additional challenges because the climate change situation is much more dismal than was expected just a few years back. This means the path towards adaptation will be even more challenging and complex. Just resilience is key, and should rest on three pillars: procedural justice, distributed justice and restorative justice.

Frida Lager, Research Associate at SEI and with the Adaptation Without Borders partnership

Key point: Climate risks cascade from producers to consumers, and across countries. It is essential that we reduce climate risks for all – rather than just redistributing them from one country/region/community to another. Globally, “just resilience” involves connections from both geographic and sectoral perspectives.

Sukaina Bharwani, Senior Research Fellow at SEI and a Founder of SEI’s online adaptation platform and community, weADAPT

Key point: Online knowledge spaces play a key role in supporting “just adaptation”. More inclusive ways of sharing and learning are needed. weADAPT has supported this process, and recent evaluations of the platform teach us that it provides great benefits by raising awareness, developing capacity, providing training, fostering connections, and helping planning and implementation.

The word cloud generated by those who attended the webinar

Sukaina Bharwani

Senior Research Fellow and weADAPT Director

SEI Oxford

Frida Lager
Frida Lager

Research Associate

SEI Headquarters

Karen Brandon
Karen Brandon

Senior Communications Officer and Editor

Communications

SEI Oxford

Rosie Witton
Rosie Witton

Research Fellow

SEI Oxford

Kate Williamson
Kate Williamson

Research Associate

SEI Oxford

Profile picture of Richard Taylor
Richard Taylor

Senior Research Fellow

SEI Oxford

Olesia Polishchuk
Olesia Polishchuk

Events Coordinator

Communications

SEI Headquarters

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