Joining forces for climate change adaptation at Nordic conference

Climate change affects us all, and we have to do something to do about it. This message was clear after the Nordic Conference on Climate Change Adaptation, which was attended by more than 400 representatives from municipal, regional and national government, as well as the business and research sectors.

Listen to voices from the participants summarizing the conference.

A warmer and wetter climate brings challenges in terms of how we build our communities, roads and other infrastructure. It affects healthcare and medical care, social justice, cultural heritage, food supply and many other sectors of society.

Adapting to climate change was the focus for the three-day conference, as various stakeholders gathered to be inspired, exchange ideas for solutions, and learn about the latest research.

“Today we have a lot of knowledge in the Nordic region. But it’s important to continue research on the climate, how we should adapt, and how we will be affected by climate change. This will enable us to make better decisions for building climate-secure and sustainable communities”, said Mattias Hjerpe from Linköping University as the conference was summarised.

Adaptation to create attractive communities

“We’re already working with water-related issues, but we need to focus more on heat, storms, moisture and other aspects we don’t yet know about. We also want to spotlight adaptation as a requirement for creating attractive, secure and inclusive communities, not just for reducing risks.”

Working with climate change adaptation means reducing vulnerability, but also making use of new opportunities, for instance developing new crops. Starting right away, and not waiting, was one of the recommendations from the conference.

Climate change – an important factor in all planning

“Everyone is affected. Everyone has to work on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and on climate change adaptation. It’s essential to consider the climate in all planning”, summarised Åsa Sjöström from the Swedish National Knowledge Centre for Climate Change Adaptation at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute.

Collaboration was a recurrent theme at the conference, for instance planning around lakes and waterways, and for different types of infrastructure, but also for supporting the adaptation of residential areas.

“One aim of the conference was to network, and we hope that the collaboration and exchange of experience will continue. Dialogue, and the sharing of ideas and lessons are hugely important, not least at the local level”, said Merja Willman from Norrköping Municipality.

“Now it’s important that climate adaptation becomes a natural part of the municipalities’ work, as the climate changes.”

Conference conclusions to be submitted to ministers

This, the fifth Nordic Conference on Climate Change Adaptation, discussed a broad spectrum of issues, such as rising sea levels, infrastructure planning and how food can be cultivated. Other themes were how the Nordic region is affected by climate change in the world, and how policy can manage both climate change adaptation and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In total there were some twenty sessions with roughly a hundred speakers and a number of posters.

The conference ran from 23 to 25 October in Norrköping and was organised by the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Linköping University and Norrköping Municipality. It welcomed everyone who works on climate change adaptation, within the fields of science, in local communities, governments and municipal administration, in ministries and national authorities, politics, businesses, industry and NGOs.

The conclusions of the conference will now be presented to the Nordic Council of Ministers.