Friday, 26 September 2014

BASE General Assembly

Earlier this week, the BASE project held a “General Assembly” meeting in Delft, the Netherlands (22-23 September 2014). It was hosted by Deltares, a Dutch institute specialised in water management. About 35-40 people attended. There was not a fixed number, as some arrived later, some left earlier, some only attended a part of the meeting. The idea for this General Assembly was to function as a sort of mid-term review. The director of the project, Hans Sanderson, expressed his wish for everyone to be critical this meeting, to enable to identify possible issues and to be able to address them in time.

The rhythm was quite a typical conference rhythm, with some plenary sessions to inform everyone about developments and about upcoming things (such as the ECCA conference in May in Copenhagen), and some breakout sessions to specifically discuss certain “Work Packages”. The work in the BASE project is organized in 8 Work Packages. You could see that the focus during the plenary sessions varied. During some parts everyone was awake and alert, and during other parts really everyone had a laptop screen in front of them, and the majority of the screens not devoted to making notes…        

The breakout sessions I attended varied in character. For example, one session was more exploratory about a Work Package that is going to start in October. That is Work Package 7, which is aimed to study and advice on policy making for climate change adaptation by the European Commission in Brussels. Other sessions were about organization and coordination of a Work Package on case studies of climate change adaptation. It was very interesting to hear about all the other case studies (about 25), and to learn more about how other researchers approach their case studies. The discussion in one of these sessions was in a fast forward tempo, and many choices and decisions had to be made. Everyone had to pay close attention. The discussion was mainly oriented towards identifying how the case studies are related, and how the linkages could be improved. And how to link case studies which are not clearly linked yet to other case studies. Which applies to one of case studies I’m studying, i.e. climate change adaptation in Dartmoor National Park. We shall have to find a way to link Dartmoor to at least one, but preferably more, other case studies. The other case study I’m studying for the BASE project, the South Devon Coast around Dawlish, was already grouped with four other coastal cases.

In the meantime, I’m reading “Can Science Fix Climate Change?” by Mike Hulme (2014), in which he convincingly critiques geo-engineering techniques aimed to diminish climate change impacts. And an article on “Ecosystem services as a contested concept: a synthesis of critique and counter-arguments” by Schroeter et al. (2014) in Conservation Letters.

At the beginning of this week (23 September), there was also an international meeting (“Climate Summit”) from the UN in New York, to discuss climate change. And on Sunday 21 September, there were various protest marches worldwide (in more than 160 countries) to ask for more attention for climate change. Both events received attention in the international media, though hardly any in the Dutch media.