Climate Adaptation; Learn , Collaborate and Act

Edge attended the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility Conference in Melbourne between 8 – 10 May. The theme of the conference was Learn, Collaborate and Act.

Australia is renowned for being a land of climate extremes. From the tropics in the North down to the cool temperate regions in our South we can experience the full suite of natural hazard events. There are few countries on earth that can boast this. Our bushfires, cyclones, floods and storms are often screened globally to viewers in less exposed countries who perceive Australia as the front line of Climate Change; and in many respects it is.

The National Climate Change Research Facility recognises that of all the world’s developed nations, Australia is the most exposed to climate extremes. The storms and flooding of December 2010-January 2011 caused economic losses of $8.6 billion and insured losses of $4.3 billion, and it is important to recognise that Climate Change is also, and very importantly an economic issue.

Our exposure to climate events is increasing directly correlated to the global increases in carbon emissions and commensurate increases in global mean temperatures. As a consequence we are experiencing impacts to our economies, our environments (built and natural), and to our societies. We need to learn to adapt and collaborate to take effective action now. Fundamentally that is what NCCARF is about.

NCCARF was established by the Commonwealth Government to support decision makers throughout Australia as they prepare for and manage the risks of climate change and sea-level rise. Since 2010 NCCARF has created a community of knowledge, expertise and now experience in climate change adaptation. NCCARF has methodically built a strong multidisciplinary community that has been taking informed action to address climate change impacts. An important aspect has been the conferencing. Over the eight years NCCARF has run 6 conferences. The profile of speakers and attendees has evolved across the series, from predominantly academics in the beginning to a diverse community of governments, industry, entrepreneurs and actors, all bringing their experience and knowledge back to a strengthening community of practice.

At the 2018 conference there was a focus on practical, and even a collaboration with Engineers Australia and their “Practical Responses” theme. Of the 250 plus presentations the majority shared practical experiences from the field. The breaks were frenetic as attendees took the opportunity to make connections and collaborate, and the conference impact should be measured in the spike in adaptation activity across our country. Edge made three presentations, 2 related to our work with the Insurance Council Australia and one related to our work with Horticulture Innovation, in bringing plants into the built environment. We also chaired the Cities and Infrastructure: Planning for liveability under climate change session.

An exciting evolution was the partnership with Climate KIC, and their mission to develop climate adaptation innovation. Climate Kic enabled a forum at the conference for the multidisciplinary community to ideate and seed the innovations that we need to create to avert the final impact of climate change.

A great concern was the lack of certainty about a future for NCCARF. NCCARF budget was axed in the 2016-17 Commonwealth budget, and current skeleton staff contracts expire at the end of this calendar year; there is no sign of other funding sources. NCCARF has created a vibrant multidisciplinary community of knowledgeable practitioners taking climate change adaptation action. NCCARF is a valuable asset, a catalyst for action, that we stand to lose if no funding is forthcoming. This will be a significant National loss, and stands to setback climate change adaptation at a significant point in time. In fifty years time, our grandchildren will ridicule us for this short term thing and passing up of opportunity.

Edge Environment commends NCCARF for the work it has done to date, the community that it has created and adaptation actions that it has informed and contributed to. We recognise that without NCCARF there will be a gap in professional practice that will be difficult to fill. We advocate for the continued funding of NCCARF and offer our ongoing support to the climate adaptation community.

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