The flight to Vancouver last week felt worth it, given the stimulation and networking offered by Adaptation Canada, the largest CC conference in the country at 700+ attendees. The mix was dominated by practitioners, governments, NGOs, and First Nations, with an appropriate minimum of academics. The keynotes were a great mix, starting with Per Espen Stoknes on the psychology of climate change communication, and ending with the inspirational Sheila Watt Cloutier (yep, bought the book) on the human face of arctic warming. I pushed back on Stoknes a bit during the questions in relation to his argument that we must not talk to people about sacrifice; I think that it may be a muscle we’ll lose if we don’t. Many interesting sessions in-between, including sessions on adaptation in small towns, adaptation in Metro Vancouver (Amir Taleghani, “Adaptations aren’t like Pokemon; you don’t just choose one and deploy it”), the new ClimateData service hubs, art engagement and gender implications.
I was very proud of the session I was in, led by NRCan’s Pamela Kertland and John Sommerville (MREM alum!), called “Should I stay or should I go? Navigating buyouts, relocation and reinvestment for flood mitigation and disaster risk reduction”. I spoke about insights from focus groups with NS coastal residents last summer about nature-based coastal adaptation and retreat, and municipal planners from Grand Forks and Calgary each talked about how they handle the issue in relation to inland flooding events. It was well attended and the audience engaged enthusiastically with the offerings.
The youth observers were memorable, the co-chairs were talented, and the whole undertaking very professional, from the outstanding plant-based catering, to the entertainment (Dakota Bear!) to the great IT support in each room. Kudos to the Fraser Basin Council and the Sheraton Wall Centre for a great few days. The weather was utterly gracious – to go coatless for a few days was a real boon. I was also happy to leverage the trip to chat with colleagues I don’t see often, like Stephen Sheppard (UBC) and Maureen Reed (Saskatchewan), and visit the Australian Embassy for yet another passport renewal.