Amidst the record flooding in Bangkok last fall, the Asia Pacific Climate Adaptation Forum was cancelled. Now, only five months later, no sign of the flooding was present and UNEP’s Second Annual Asia Pacific Climate Adaptation Forum was in full swing. The irony of having to cancel the regions most important gathering on climate change adaptation was not lost on anyone at the Forum. The themes of climate adaptation, urban resilience, and disaster risk management featured heavily in panel presentations.
Invited to speak on the role of private sector and universities in climate change adaptation, Linda Yarr, PISA’s Director, stressed that universities such as George Washington are in a pivotal position to:
• educate the rising generation responsible for future decision-making;
• demonstrate sustainable campuses as they “practice what they teach;”
• innovate new technologies and policy measures;
• replicate and validate best practices by researching effectiveness;
• disseminate knowledge widely through teaching, publication, training of teachers, and public engagement; and help us to
• contemplate the long-term consequences on intergenerational and social equity;
Programs on environmental sustainability have multiplied; however, a gap remains in terms of focus and urgency to tackle measures that relate adaptation to climate change.
This year’s event was the embodiment of resilience and it was clear that community activists, researchers, and policy-makers are putting adaptation front and center as they plan for a sustainable future. The array of adaptation pilot programs underway in the region is mind-boggling at the same time many initiative, including PISA’s Leadership Institutes on Climate Change, have matured and are shaping dialog on climate adaptation in the Asia-Pacific region. A few forward-looking trends:
• Consensus on Adaption Over Mitigation;
• Community-based Initiatives are spontaneous, “organic”, and low-cost;
• Communities of Practice Can Share Useful Information Using Social Media Platforms;
• Growing Recognition that there is a need for governance of adaptation decision-making.
We came away inspired by the variety of work underway in Asia and how activists, researchers, and policy-makers are focused on incorporating adaptive measures into planning for a sustainable future.