24 February 2011

Workshop explores climate adaptation

Government, industry and academia were brought together by RMIT University through a recent workshop focusing on approaches to climate change adaptation in policy and practice.

The Climate Change Adaptation Program, one of four research programs in the RMIT Global Cities Research Institute, conducted the workshop as part of a project funded by the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research (VCCCAR), in collaboration with researchers from Monash University and the University of Melbourne.

Senior researcher and CCAP Research Fellow, Dr Hartmut Fuenfgeld, said it was vital to understand the strengths and limitations offered by various approaches for planning for the impacts of climate change at local and regional levels.

"Choosing a particular approach - such as a risk-based approach or one that focuses on assessing the vulnerability of people - not only limits the process used for climate change adaptation, it also influences the kind of responses to climate change impacts that are identified and considered," Dr Fuenfgeld said.

"It is critical to work towards a shared understanding of the meaning and purpose of climate change adaptation processes.

"This understanding needs to be established across different levels of government and must involve a diverse group of stakeholders, who all come to the discussion with different levels of knowledge and differing objectives in mind."

The event brought together project partners and stakeholders from more than 20 organisations, including Victorian State Government departments, regional local government alliances, local authorities, industry groups, and research institutions.

The half-day session focused on creating an opportunity for dialogue between climate change adaptation policy developers, practitioners and researchers, to explore the challenges and opportunities for establishing the meaning and purpose of climate change adaptation in various contexts, from the individual to state levels.

"Participants were able to share their own experiences with different approaches to planning and implementing adaptation processes," Dr Fuenfgeld said.

"The workshop also providing insights into research currently being undertaken by the project team and identified further research needs."

Conversation mapping techniques were used to elicit participants' experiences with climate change adaptation approaches, followed by a panel discussion involving representatives of three key stakeholder groups (researchers, state government policy developers, and local government practitioners).

The outcomes from the workshop discussion will inform a number of publications as part of the Framing multi-level and multi-actor adaptation responses in the Victorian context project.

A summary of key discussion points, as well as advice given by workshop participants to the research team, will be available online at VCCCAR soon.

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