ACDI at Adaptation Futures Conference 2023

27 Sep 2023 | By Michelle Shields
Adaptation Futures 23
27 Sep 2023 | By Michelle Shields

The Adaptation Futures Conference is an international conference devoted to climate change adaptation, bringing together researchers, policymakers, practitioners, industry representatives and communicators. The conference allows participants to present their work on adaptation, discuss emerging and cutting-edge issues, learn what others are doing, and build networks.

The 7th edition of Adaptation Futures (AF2023) will be held from 2-6 October 2023, with the main hub of the conference located at the Palais des congrès de Montréal, Québec, Canada. An innovative format will facilitate the participation of a wide range of stakeholders around the world.

More information on the conference, programme, sessions and masterclasses can be found on the Adaptation Futures website.

The African Climate and Development Initiative will be co-hosting several sessions throughout the conference highlighting key themes within the climate change adaptation arena. Along with the various hosted sessions, ACDI along with SAF-ADAPT will be facilitating attendance for several students from the University of Venda and the University of Fort Hare.

Sessions co-hosted by ACDI

  • Session 628: Just transitions to water resilience in African cities

Tuesday, 3 Oct from 16:30 – 18:00

ACDI facilitation: Gina Ziervogel and Anna Taylor

This session explores building urban water resilience in African cities, looking at adaptation priorities and actions from a justice and equity perspective. It takes the format of an interactive panel discussion, inviting participants into a conversation guided by three questions:

  1. What are the most urgent priorities for strengthening urban water resilience in African cities?
  2. What actions and coalitions are needed to accelerate the implementation of priorities?
  3. How can just adaptation be undertaken that ensures the needs of the most vulnerable are actively considered and acted upon, alongside economic and environmental needs?
  • Session 685: Critical self-reflection, positionality and transformation: A focus on adaptation action

Thursday, 5 Oct from 8:30 – 10:00

Facilitated by: Katharine Vincent (Kulima Integrated Development Solutions) and Anna Taylor (ACDI)

In this session, the aim is to give people within the adaptation community the opportunity to step back and critically examine and analyse (a) their own positionality in the adaptation climate space and (b) critically interrogate how this is influenced by (often implicit) assumptions about how change happens. Building on work from others (e.g. O’Brien, 2021) the aim is that greater self-reflection and humility can lead to transformations in perspectives that can then translate into innovations in the way that we collectively define, frame challenges and promote adaptation action.

  • Session 655: “Who is enabling effective and socially just climate adaptation? Frontline organizations as critical intermediaries in adaptation governance”. 

Tuesday, October 3 from 11:00 - 12:30

Facilitated by: Nadine Methner (ACDI), Mark New (ACDI), Hallie Eakin (Arizona State University) and Moushumi Chaudhury (CARE USA)

This knowledge co-production session focuses on organizations that are implementing adaptation projects in the Global South.  The organizers will facilitate World Café style discussions on the capacities, strategies, and barriers faced by those organizations in creating, supporting, and implementing effective adaptation projects in particular contexts. Special attention will be placed on the role of those organizations in addressing gender equity and social inclusion.  

The session is targeted at practitioners of adaptation projects and investments in the Global South, and/or academics who have studied these formal interventions as part of academic/ transdisciplinary work.

The session will produce a crowd-sourced inventory of the capacities and challenges faced by organizations serving as adaptation intermediaries, and concrete ideas for enhancing the effectiveness of those organizations in equitable and sustainable adaptation project governance. This knowledge will inform the work of an interdisciplinary research project (ACAMI) which focuses on enhancing the effectiveness of organizations that implement Climate Change adaptation projects targeted at agricultural small-scale producers in Africa.

  • Session 648: Informality and urban adaptation

Thursday, October 5 from 16:00 – 17:30

Facilitated by: Gina Ziervogel (ACDI), Hallie Eakin (Arizona State University), Maike Hamann (University of Exeter) Nadine Methner (ACDI) and Johan Enqvist (in absentia, ACDI)

The session will start with input on informality and adaptation (drawing on 3 cases from South Africa, Malawi and Mexico) and underlining the idea that informality is first and foremost a social construct, legitimized by those in power. Then a world cafe style process will follow, to explore “informality and inequitable vulnerabilities”, “informality as a source of adaptation innovation” and “informality and opportunities in adaptation governance”. After feedback, a plenary discussion will focus on emerging areas of work, areas of priority for adaptation policy and practice, and an opportunity to discuss future collaboration.

Session contributions from ACDI

  • Session 736: Incentivizing equitable adaptation: Interdisciplinary perspectives

Tuesday, 3 Oct from 11:00 – 12:30

ACDI participants: Nick Simpson

This knowledge-sharing open session will explore applied approaches to understand and support decision-making for equitable adaptation action. The starting points for the session are both the widespread creation of adaptation planning documents and business cases that suggest that anticipatory adaptation makes good economic sense. Despite this, evidence suggests that the move from planning and business cases to implementation and action is both insufficient and challenging, whilst at the same time often failing to serve the needs of the most vulnerable populations (Eriksen et al., 2021; Kodis et al, 2021; Nyiwul, 2021; Villamor et al, 2023). Further, differences in vulnerability and resources mean adaptation can serve to increase inequality across and within societies (Thomas 2018; Simpson et al. 2020).

  • Session 205: Compound, cascading and complex climate risks and their impacts: getting from methodological advancements to practical outcomes

Tuesday, 3 Oct from 14:30 – 16:00

ACDI participants: Nick Simpson

Given the prominence of the topic, there is a growing body of methodological advancements in assessing these types of risks and impacts. However, as the topic is gaining momentum, it is important to consider what needs to be done to transform cross-cutting scientific research into practical outcomes on the ground, ultimately informing adaptation action for a diverse set of stakeholders.

  • Session 812 The values of adaptation pathways for planning under adaptation limits

Tuesday, October 3 from 14:30 to 16:00 

ACDI participants: Anna Taylor and Nadine Methner

The session will bring together different stakeholders from research to practice to discuss conceptual and empirical experiences with pathways approaches and the utility of adaptation pathways in the context of development and adaptation limits. We expect to identify pre-requisites and mechanisms for effective adaptation planning under large-scale, transformative changes. We pay special attention to the role and engagement of different actors, ranging from communities, to government and private sector, in order to unpack the different knowledges and value sets these actors bring to the table.

  • Session 535: Establishing a globally-relevant just adaptation network

Tuesday, 3 Oct from 11:00 – 12:30

ACDI participants: Gina Ziervogel

The recognition of needing to address layers of injustices in adaptation while foregrounding just, inclusive, and dignified processes is starting to be reflected in adaptation strategies and policy. Yet, the translation from recognition to locally meaningful practice needs to be ramped up rapidly, in parallel with efforts for just transitions in mitigation. To this end, it is time to enable new globally-networked conversations not only about conceptual and theoretical approaches in this area but also about tested, negotiated, and recommended practice and advocacy across various scales of mattering. We also propose to articulate a conversation across continents about leading practice to just adaptation, and the many remaining pitfalls, in order to speed up the world’s ability to respond in equitable ways to the rising impacts from climatic changes, including extreme events.

  • Session 58: Urban climate resilient development: Reflections and insights from policy practice and research: opportunities, challenges and pathways for systemic change

Wednesday, 4 Oct from 14:00 – 15:30

ACDI participants: Nick Simpson

This knowledge exchange session facilitates a dialogue been urban climate researchers, practitioners, and civil society, about climate resilient development in the context of five diverse cities in the global North and South. Participation by two officials from the City of Cape Town will be sharing their insights on climate-resilient development planning for cities. Their work shows significant thought leadership emanating from the Global South to shift urban pathways towards development futures that are more climate-resilient and sustainable. Their work will highlight how priorities and programmes in the City of Cape Town’s Integrated Development Plan (2022–2027) demonstrate progress towards operationalising local level planning for climate-resilient development and provide lessons of process and focus on transformative outcomes for cities seeking equitable and just development while implementing climate change adaptation and mitigation.

  • Session 969: The role of local and indigenous knowledge systems in climate change adaptation: Case studies

Thursday, October 5 from 16:00 – 17:30

ACDI facilitators: Sheona Shackleton and Nadine Methner

Title of presentation: In search of equity in place-based climate change adaptation projects: Insights from Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa

With justice and equity lying at the heart of sustainable development, it is essential to consider what is needed to achieve fairness and reduce vulnerability when tackling one of the greatest global challenges of our time – climate change. In this presentation, we consider how placed-based climate change adaptation projects can better promote equity and justice, while reducing poverty, inequality, and climate risk, by understanding: 1) whether and how recognitional and procedural equity have been included in the design and implementation of projects, thus ensuring that the voices and needs of marginalised people are acknowledged and accounted for; and 2) who benefits, doesn’t benefit, or bears burdens from adaptation projects across different social groups (distribution equity). To guide our research, we used an equity framework that builds on well-known social justice framings. We undertook online interviews with over 35 practitioners involved in different place-based adaptation projects across South Africa, Ghana, and Kenya. Our engagements were designed to unpack the ways in which equity concerns are included in project design and implementation, as well as the contextual (across scales) and project-related factors that hinder or enable inclusive climate action. In this talk, we share key findings from our analysis, elaborating on the challenges and trade-offs that emerged, as well as how projects were able (or not) to support equitable adaptation in their approaches, design, and implementation.

Click here for the full conference programme and more details on each session

Posters presented by ACDI

  • How can we achieve more equitable nature-based solutions?  

Virtual poster available from Monday, September 25 to October 6 at this link

Developed by: Petra Holden, Tali Hoffman, Ida Djenontin, Karen Esler, Kate Gannon, Glynis Humphrey, Meed Mbidzo, Nosiseko Mtati, Mark New, Vinyani Ndlovu, Andriantsilavo H.I. Razafimanantsoa, Alanna Rebelo, Sarah Savory, Jessica P.R. Thorn, Martine Visser, and Gina Ziervogel

Many nature-based solutions, especially in the Global South, claim or attempt to incorporate social equity. Yet inequitable outcomes still occur, particularly at local scales, and particularly for the most vulnerable. To provide deeper insights into why this happens, we have created a collection of stories from southern Africa. Each story is based on the experiences and reflections of researchers and practitioners and includes a reflection of what we see as the space for action, based on a systematic review of the literature on this topic. In this poster we summarise the focus of three of these stories and describe what we can learn from them. 

  • The full collection of stories is available on the TES NbS website.
  • Please vote for our poster for the participants choice contest by clicking the heart icon on the poster (deadline for voting 5 October)

You can access all the virtual posters here: