Held on 12-13 March 2012 at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, the second Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum brought together about 700 participants, including adaptation practitioners, policy-makers, specialists from various fields in climate change, government functionaries and representatives of donor agencies from across the world to discuss climate change adaptation topics that cut across governance issues, management, technology, and replicability.
The forum underlined the human dimension of climate change with speaker after speaker reiterating that the only way to prepare for an unknown future was by building upon what we already have. While some advocated a big push for resilience, others emphasized the need for climate-proofing infrastructure, and yet others called for first acknowledging the stakeholders, and then involving them in the multi-layered process of adaptation. But almost all the participants were unanimous about the necessity of marrying the top-down and bottom-up approaches to obtain optimal results.
The Forum focused on “Adaptation in Action”, signifying a shift from deliberations to decisions, plans to policies, and from policies to practices. In particular, it sought to link knowledge to adaptation actions, and spotlighted the challenges of governance underlying adaptation decision-making.
This was abundantly reflected in the 24 panel discussions with 150 resource persons focusing on a diverse array of subjects ranging from national-level plans, government-led policy interventions, private sector initiatives, and gender and community-based adaptation, to agriculture, ecosystems management, disaster mitigation, the role of media and the importance of climate-proofing cities.
The Forum also hosted a vibrant marketplace with over 30 colorful booths showcasing information and adaptation solutions, which were generally a mix of community- and eco-based approaches often injected with a shot of technology.
The participants were also treated to a film festival highlighting documentaries on adaptation and mitigation besides a musical performance by Ruhan, a leading diva from China.
Dr. Bindu Lohani, Vice President, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Philippines called for an integrative and transformational approach to climate change adaptation besides the need to strengthen resilience. He asserted that it was imperative to understand the social dimension of climate change to move closer to resilience. This means appreciating how climate change affects migration, livelihood security, and public health.
Dr. Johan Kuylenstierna, Executive Director Designate, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Sweden said “The future is not what it used to be”. Kuylenstierna said though we can learn a lot from history, the future doesn’t tell us everything. Hence, adaptation practitioners must first figure out the stakeholders to ensure that adaptation messages reach the intended audiences.
While the first two plenary sessions focused on adaptation in practice, the third plenary session dwelt on governance and adaptation. “To build on what we already have”, “adapting what we've got” and “to change our mindsets to adapt” were three key messages from the expert speakers.
For more information about the Asia-Pacific Adaptation Forum 2012, including proceedings report, forum evaluation summary, videos, daily bulletins, and more, visit http://www.asiapacificadapt.net/adaptationforum2012/