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Adapting to Climate Change: Let Us Count the Ways by ClimateYou Editor Abby Luby

Right now, a major conference has convened in Capetown, Africa, for one purpose: to figure out how the world can best adapt to global climate change. Adaptation Futures 2018, an international conference held every two years, has brought together some 230 organizations from 87 countries to listen to and dialogue with 1200 scientists, researchers, policy-makers and business leaders and come up with concrete solutions of resiliency.

This year the urgency to seek and implement methods to counter the effects of global warming is particularly acute in regions  experiencing extreme weather conditions caused by climate change. Agriculture was once the main focus of this conference but adaptation scientists are now studying cities and coastal regions experiencing droughts, sea level rise, flooding, intense rainfall and extreme heat. The conference will look at adaptation actions already in place such as cyclone shelters in Bangladesh, rehabilitated mangroves in Fiji and early warning systems for heavy rain in Rio de Janeiro. Rotterdam, the largest port in Europe has been exemplary for its specially constructed dykes and public playgrounds that double as rainfall collection spaces. Newly built blue-green corridors of waterways, lakes and grassy parks store excess water when sea and river levels rise. In just one year, over 185,000 square kilometers of green rooftops were built and filled with vegetation that can help absorb excess rainwater.

Food production tops the list when it comes to adapting to climate change. Discussions will be about recent efforts to change how food is produced and how land is managed. Farmers need governmental support as they plant new crops that will survive the new climate. 120 million people  depend on growing and selling coffee and many of those growers are threatened by hotter temperatures known to wipe out an entire coffee farm because of the plants’ heat sensitivity. Brazil has already moved many of its coffee plantations closer to native tree forests where there is cooling shade and lower temperatures. Driving the conference throughout is to find solutions to help developing countries and how to share and implement those solutions.

The first International Climate Change Adaptation Conference was held in Brisbane, Australia in 2010, the second in Tucson, USA in 2012 and the third in Fortaleza, Brazil in 2014.The 2016-edition took place in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and attracted a record number of over 1,700 participants from more than 100 countries (read a full report on this website).

The complete program for the current Adaptation Futures conference can be seen here.  The conference runs all week and ends June 21, 2018.

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