HZG at the UN Climate Conference in Cancùn

More and more civil society observers are attending the COPs every year, and many observers essentially treat the COP as a central, global meeting place for all discussions, academic work and outreach related to climate change.

The Ecologic Institute (Germany), the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht (HZG, Germany), the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (Netherlands) and the United Nations Human Settlements programme convened a side-event on Stakeholder-Based Approaches to Climate Change Adaptation in Coastal Region and Cities. The workshop was framed by the project RADOST (Regional Adaptation Strategies for the German Baltic Sea Coast) which especially engages in the transfer of information and know-how of regional adaptation measures in Germany and other coastal regions of the world.

The workshop took place in the Green Forum located in the Climate Change Village and was accessible by delegates and observers as well as the general public. The Participants included delegates from Austria, Germany and Bangladesh as well as representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations from North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
As climate change impacts become felt worldwide, adaptation efforts will become necessary in a number of contexts, including agriculture, security, water resources management, coastal zones, marine and terrestrial ecosystems, human settlements, and health. So far, the focus of adaptation activities has rested on vulnerability assessments and planning. While the need to move ahead with implementation is widely recognized, adaptation efforts have to account for regional and local stakeholder needs and address potential economic and social risks and opportunities.

But beyond the general imperative to foster broad stakeholder participation, there is little guidance on what this entails. Moreover, the issues under consideration are characterized by complexity, uncertainty and misperceptions on adaptation practices. This is associated with the risk of distorted adaptation strategies and investments and the overall effectiveness of adaptation implementations.

Against this background the workshop aimed to share knowledge and experience in particular on the following issues:

  • The global adaptation policies and the formation of a new global adaptation alliance;
  • The perceptions of regional and local stakeholders climate change adaptation, the scientific discourse and its implications on adaptation activities;
  • The regional and local needs as a precondition for stakeholder involvements and actions;
  • The exchange of best practices and implementation projects;
  • What constitutes good adaptation practices and how to avoid maladaptive pursuance;
  • Raising awareness and countering common misperceptions of adaptation.

Main outcomes of the discussions:

  • The creation of an informal platform for dialogue upon which participants could exchange information, views and experiences and explore opportunities for further collaboration;
  • Need for considerable work on the matter of science communication and the production of useable knowledge which can be absorbed by local decision makers and regional communities;
  • The importance of knowledge management programs and data information systems such as the Nairobi work programme and the need for increased communication about useful adaptation measures;
  • The establishment of projects which are sitting at the nexus of development and climate change and which are driven by community needs;
  • Climate proofing and corruption proofing of adaptation strategies and measures must go hand in hand;
  • Those affected should be involved in the dialogue and have a say in decisions to promote no regret strategies and investment decisions based on integrity and equity principles;
  • The moral obligation of industrialized countries to share adaptation knowledge and capacities with developing and least developed countries;
  • The usefulness of exchanging adaptation strategies between industrialized countries, the formulation of regional networks across national borders and the promotion of transnational knowledge transfers.


Dr. Dennis Bray
Institute of Coastal Research

Telefon: +49 (0)4725 87-1849