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Summer 2011 International Climate Change Adaptation Conference and the 2nd International Conference on Climate Change, Queensland and Brisbane, Australia 29th June – 1st July and 8th – 10th July 2010
The International Climate Change Adaptation Conference was convened by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) and by the CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship. The International Steering Committee was composed of leading authors of the IPCCs Fourth Assessment Reports. The conference was attended by almost 1000 participants from around 55 countries, which included researchers, policy makers, private businesses, students and also journalists. It was one of the first international forums to focus solely on climate impacts and adaptation. Climate change is one of the most important environmental, social and economic issues facing the world today. Despite growing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, some impacts such as more intense floods, droughts, bushfires, and rising sea levels are now inevitable. The Conference helped showcase leading impacts and adaptation research from Australia and around the world. The program included over 500 presenters, and it explored the contribution of adaptation science to planning and policy making, and in how robust adaptation decision making can proceed in the face of uncertainty about the impacts of climate change.
The conference was opened through welcoming speeches by an aboriginal elder, and then by the Australian Minister for Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Water. Throughout the 3- day conference 15 keynote speeches were given by various renowned climate change scientists. Amongst the various parallel sessions held there was one on adapting agriculture to climate change, convened by Mark Howden (CSIRO, Australia) and Cynthia Rosenzweig (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University, USA).
This was the session I took part in, where my supervisor Professor Peter Mills and I gave a joint platform presentation titled ‘adaptation to and impacts of climate change on UK agricultural sectors’. This was one of 13 presentations on agriculture related topics, and the poster session for this topic included 39 posters. Our talk went well and we got a lot of interest from the audience who engaged in a thorough questioning session. In all there were 30 different sessions that were grouped into 6 different threads on the following topics: understanding and communicating adaptation; adaptation by sectors (that included agriculture, ecosystems and water); adapting from the grass roots; frameworks for adaptation; adaptation at the edge; human welfare & adaptation. I found the conference extremely useful due to its interdisciplinary nature and it’s large audience, since it brought pure scientists, climate modellers and social scientists together with the general public and policy makers to discuss issues and threats from climate change, and how people, sectors, businesses, and also ecosystems can adapt, and how future research throughout the world and in certain regions should focus its efforts on questions which still remain unanswered on how we need to adapt to minimize the impacts of climate change.
The Second International Conference on Climate Change: Impacts and Responses was convened by Common Ground Publishing, and is an annual conference that was first held last year in India. This conference aimed at creating an interdisciplinary forum for discussing evidence of climate change, its causes, and its ecosystem and human impacts. The difference from the other conference is that whilst the other focuses on adaptation, this one dealt with impacts. The conference was attended by just over 100 participants from all over the world, with almost all of them being researchers, including principal investigators, post-docs and postgraduate students.
The conference was opened by a talk from Amareswar Galla of the University of Queensland. Throughout the 3-day conference four plenary speakers gave presentations, and another 68 presentations were given by as many people in three parallel sessions.
Around a quarter of the presentations dealt with impacts on different aspects of agriculture, one of which was my presentation titled ‘potential impact of climate change on diseases affecting the UK strawberry industry: assessing the social and economic impacts’. The talk was successful in stimulating discussion on impacts on plant disease in different continents across Africa and Australasia, with climate change. The rest of the presentations again covered many different topics of climate impacts, including on ecosystems, society, and even tribal groups. Being smaller, this conference gave me the opportunity to engage more in discussion with other researchers from around the world and discuss ideas about potential research opportunities in the field of climate impacts studies in agriculture.
I would like to thank the BSPP for the travel award that helped contribute to my participation in these conferences.
Together with the awards I received from the GCRI Trust, Fera, and Warwick HRI, it was instrumental in enabling my travel to Australia to participate in these two conferences.
Eman Calleja University of Warwick