At the end of May I spent a couple of days at the ICLEI resilience cities congress finding out about the latest global urban adaptation work and sharing experiences from the work that we are involved with in Scotland.
There is no better place to be immersed in all things urban climate resilience related that at the resilient cities congress. It’s a three day round the clock networking and information sharing bonanza. Whilst there I presented on our work in Glasgow and the wider city region and gained many fascinating insights into work going on elsewhere.
Among many inspiring presentations, discussions and dinner time conversations:
- Cynthia Rosenzweig, Senior Research Scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Co-Chair of the New York City Panel on Climate Change, presented on the need to look beyond city boundaries when assessing and planning for climate risks – recognising the significant influence that cities have on their surrounding regions and vice versa. She also talked about the very real challenges of establishing governance mechanisms that enable cross boundary and organisation adaptation planning and action. She advocated very strongly that cities should be looking beyond core boundaries if they are to fully understand and manage climate risks.
- Copenhagen continues to be a stand out city in terms of progress with adaptation planning and action no doubt driven in no small part by Lykke Leonardsen, Head of Climate Section, City of Copenhage. Lykke is a powerhouse of climate adaptation knowledge, enthusiasm and commitment to action. The city of Copenhagen will host the European Climate Change Adaptation Conference in Feb 2015 and continues to inspire. I’ve noticed that this city has a particularly strong commitment to working and sharing information with global partners, I’ve personally benefited from phone calls with them to discuss various adaptation issues and admire their willingness and commitment to gathering and sharing knowledge.
- Also very impressed by the leadership being shown by the city of Durban in South Africa. Durban joins Glasgow in being one of the first cities selected to join the Rockefeller Foundation 100 resilient cities network. I attended a session where representatives from the city shared their experiences of taking part in a twinning cities project with the German City of Bremen – it was great to hear about the exchange of information and technology between the two cities with Durban implementing new methods for assessing water quality and benefiting from engineering advice and expertise as well as sharing valuable experiences with Bremen.
- It would be very hard to beat the enthusiasm and innovation of the City of Bolonga when it comes to gathering ideas for adaptation actions. After a long day in the main congress sessions they tempted participants to an evening drinks reception before initiating a pecha kucha style presentation session with participants invited to pitch adaptation planning ideas to a panel of judges. The winning idea won a trip to their final adaptation planning conference in Bologna! Aside from fun and innovative stakeholder engagement techniques this City is of real interest to Scotland as it faces many similar challenges around the need to retrofit and ‘climate proof’ an ancient, historic and in many cases much loved built environment. I’ll be keeping an eye on what they get up to next.
Participating in this congress was a really good opportunity to reflect on how Scotland compares with other nations in terms of adaptation planning and action. I’m confident that the work ‘we’ (i.e. everyone involved in some form of adaptation work in Scotland) are doing here is well aligned with the best of what is happening elsewhere.