Early ECCA2023 key messages gathered by theme leaders

14 July 2023

Early key messages gathered by the conference theme leaders were captured from the almost 70 sessions, reflecting the broad range of topics and diversity of content, covering collaboration, creativity, equality, implementation, tools, narratives, politics, finance, communities and much more. These key messages will be developed into cohesive guidance for advancing adaptation. A comprehensive compilation of key messages derived from the six thematic topics presented at ECCA2023 will be published soon.  

The six thematic topics at ECCA2023 were: 1) Stepping up climate action: Support through climate platforms and services; 2) Adaptation responses to sea level rise and coastal change; 3) Nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation; 4) Preparing for more frequent and severe climate extremes; 5) Reframing societal transformation by challenging underlying assumptions and 6) Climate and social resilience of future energy infrastructure and systems.   

For the first theme “Stepping up climate action: Support through climate platforms and services”, there were seven sessions organized with the following messages: 

  • Adaptation is not optional: We have made progress in developing climate platforms and services. However, there are gaps, and we need to progress even further and faster to accelerate adaptation action as foreseen within the EU Adaptation Strategy (smart, timely and systemic). We need to remind ourselves: adaption is not optional nor an issue of foresight but one of immediacy. We need to bridge those gaps between science and practice/policy. There are tools available, but their role in understanding and implementing the socio-ecological experience of acting on adaptation, including societal transformation, needs to be enhanced. We need to address these gaps by working in a transdisciplinary manner, otherwise we could have a myriad of services which are not fit-for-purpose nor available when needed. 

  • Mobilization/ Scaling-up implementation: Climate action is all about mobilising people and governments within socio-ecological systems, making peace with nature and helping people make the necessary transitions.  Mobilization is urgently needed to populate and engage with the Adaptation Mission in terms of translating and exchanging the knowledge where and when it is needed. Empowering local and regional stakeholders, and giving courage to politics to act, implementing actions commensurate with the existing and emerging risks. 

  • Communities of practice: A critical building block for enhancing climate platforms and services is supporting the bringing together of Communities of Practices, sharing experiences for mutual learning / sharing good practices and supporting each other in providing knowledge, information and data to inspire and support adaptation. These communities of practice can also enhance learning through sharing innovations and challenges, including less successful approaches. 


The second theme on “Adaptation responses to sea level rise and coastal change” concluded with the subsequent messages from their six sessions organized:  

  • Long-term perspective: Humanity is already committed to sea level rise at current warming levels, and it will increase in the future requiring a long-term perspective. Currently people are accepting and supporting traditional measures, are very supportive of nature-based solutions and have in many cases, institutional capacity to implement those. However, not all adaptation options might be viable for generations to come. 

  • People-centered: Community-based adaptation and people-centered processes are important to develop more resilient pathways and communities.  

  • Accessible information: Community engagement needs to be realistic and early with accessible and transparent information. Transparent information shout be the basis for equitable and fair decision making. 

  • Equitable decisions: It was a common thread across all the sessions under the sea level rise theme with open-ended questions such as who pays for and who benefits from coastal adaptation investments? How do we ensure that spending or unavoidable losses are distributed fairly across different societal groups? What does “fair” mean?  

The third theme on “Nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation” had six sessions organized and arrived at the next conclusions: 

  • Actionable knowledge: Climate adaptation actions are urgent to take, and nature-based solutions offer the potential to develop innovative approaches that leverage the inherent resilience of natural systems to combat climate change and are actionable by those who need them - individuals and communities. It requires translating the conceptual ideas of nature-based solutions into tangible actions on the ground. 

  • Solution-making: It entails identifying specific challenges, understanding the socio-ecological context, designing and implementing nature-based interventions, and assessing their effectiveness that could leverage the power of nature to address environmental challenges.  

  • Transdisciplinary collaboration: It benefits from a collaborative approach that fosters the integration of diverse expertise, knowledge, and resources, leading to more effective and context-specific solutions.  

  • Engagement and Implementation: Implementing nature-based solutions requires translating conceptual ideas into tangible actions on the ground. For that, it is essential to engage different stakeholders, policymakers, and local communities to ensure that different perspectives, knowledge, and needs are considered during the planning and implementation of nature-based solutions. This involvement also fosters ownership, builds trust, and enhances the social acceptance and long-term sustainability of the solutions. 

The fourth theme was “Preparing for more frequent and severe climate extremes” with 8 sessions organized and presented the following messages:   

  • Compound and cascading events: These will be more frequent, and humanity will need to be prepared for that, not only for extreme events in Europe but also for events happening in other geographical regions.  

  • Success stories: They have been shared about how to adapt to extreme events and particularly to heat and cold events in urban areas. Different options were shared like nature-based solutions, planning strategies, disaster risk reduction that allowed us to learn from different case studies presented and their best practices.  

  • Storylines and narratives: These are useful to visualize how the world would look like. They play a significant role in shaping the understanding and communication of climate adaptation. Storylines and narratives provide a structured framework for exploring potential futures and the pathways leading to those futures. By presenting different storylines, decision-makers, researchers, and communities can gain insights into the potential challenges and opportunities that climate change may bring and develop adaptive strategies accordingly. 

  • Tools/ Toolboxes: These have been developed for climate adaptation, each of them focusing on different challenges. There is a need for more integrated approaches and transformative tools, so that end-users and practitioners make better use of these tools.  

  • Relevance/ Utility/ Interoperability: Relevance refers to the extent to which information, strategies, and actions are applicable and meaningful in the context of addressing more frequent and severe climate extremes. Utility pertains to the practical usefulness and effectiveness of approaches and measures in preparing for climate extremes. Interoperability involves ensuring that adaptation measures, data, and knowledge are compatible and can be integrated across various sectors and scales. This facilitates coordinated and efficient responses to extreme events. 

  • Social protection schemes: They play a crucial role in preparing for more frequent and severe climate extremes by providing a safety net and support to vulnerable populations. Concepts like social justice, economic incentives, adaptation measures for disaster recovery and sustainable development were discussed.  

  • Financial aspects: They play a crucial role in supporting and enabling effective adaptation measures. Adequate funding, cost considerations, insurance and risk transfer mechanisms, public-private partnerships, and long-term financial planning are critical for supporting and enabling effective adaptation measures, reducing vulnerabilities, and building resilience to climate extremes. 

The fifth theme about “Reframing societal transformation by challenging underlying assumptions” organized 6 sessions and concluded that:  

  • Creativity/ Imagination/ Freedom / Equality: by embracing these aspects in climate adaptation, societies can foster a culture of innovation, inclusivity, and empowerment. These qualities allow for the development of adaptive solutions that are contextually appropriate, socially just, and capable of transforming systems and behaviors to meet the challenges of climate change effectively. The relationship between sustainability and freedom needs to be considered, with the awareness that sustainability is a condition for autonomy. 

  • Asymmetries/ Wealth of resources: addressing asymmetries and wealth disparities is essential for equitable climate adaptation. It ensures that vulnerable communities, who often have limited resources, receive adequate support to cope with climate impacts. By addressing these imbalances, adaptation efforts can promote fairness, inclusivity, and resilience, reducing the disproportionate burden faced by marginalized groups and promoting sustainable and just outcomes. 

  • Cooperation/ Solidarity/ Complicity: through these qualities, we can build resilience and strengthen our collective response to the climate crisis. These qualities foster collaboration, empathy, and a sense of shared responsibility, leading to more effective and equitable adaptation actions. Together, they lay the foundation for transformative change and sustainable development. 

  • Diversity/ Uniqueness: these aspects are crucial for climate adaptation as they bring varied perspectives, innovative solutions, resilience, and equity considerations. Embracing diversity ensures that adaptation strategies are contextually relevant, effective, and inclusive, enabling us to navigate the complexities of climate change and build a more sustainable and resilient future for all. 

  • Communities and territories/ Cultures/ Local knowledge: are vital for climate adaptation as they offer invaluable insights, context-specific strategies, and a deep understanding of the social and ecological systems at play. Communities and territories hold valuable local knowledge and practices, enabling the identification of adaptive measures suited to their unique circumstances. Cultural diversity promotes inclusive decision-making, while local knowledge informs effective resource management. 

  • New social contracts / Happiness / Well-being: Science needs to engage more explicitly with existing social and political contracts for designing, planning, implementing and resourcing adaptation. New social contracts are not yet clear, they need to be co-developed through transdisciplinary approaches involving people and communities, pursuing the purpose of common well-being. 

The sixth theme “Climate and social resilience of future energy infrastructure and systems” with 4 sessions have as key messages the following: 

  • Energy futures: The future of the energy system for climate adaptation lies in transitioning towards renewable and sustainable sources of energy. Energy systems have a huge opportunity for resilient infrastructure and society.  

  • Planning and placemaking: In the next decade relevant investments will be made for resilient infrastructure and placemaking as they enable the integration of resilience measures into urban and rural spaces. By incorporating climate considerations into land use planning, infrastructure development, and community design, we can enhance adaptive capacity, reduce vulnerabilities, and create climate-resilient environments. 

  • Resilient net zero: It will attract a lot of investment and innovation funding. Net zero investments will enable the development of sustainable, low-carbon systems that can withstand and mitigate climate change impacts. By investing in resilient infrastructure, such as climate-resilient buildings, transportation systems, and energy grids, we can minimize disruptions from extreme events. 

  • Adaptation into regulation: Embedding climate adaptation of the energy system into regulation is crucial to ensure systematic and consistent action. Regulatory frameworks can provide a policy foundation for integrating adaptation measures, setting standards for resilience, and promoting sustainable practices. By incorporating climate adaptation into regulations, such as renewable energy targets, building codes, and emissions standards, we can drive the necessary transformation of the energy sector to withstand climate impacts and enhance long-term resilience. 

  • Transformative investments: By promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency, and decentralized systems, we can reduce emissions, enhance climate resilience, and improve access to clean energy, benefiting communities, reducing inequalities, and fostering sustainable development. 


Watch the ECCA2023 early key messages in the closing ceremony: ECCA2023- Wednesday, 21st June, 2023 


Written by: Monserrat Budding-Polo Ballinas and Sally Stevens with inputs from Roger Street, Jorg Cortekar, Gundula Winter, Rita Sousa Silva, Tiago Capela  Lourenço, Carolina Vieira, Marta Terrado, María Fernanda Rollo and Mark Ellis-Jones.

Explore the photo galleries from:

-ECCA2023 Monday 19 June, 2023 here.

-ECCA2023 Tuesday 20 June, 2023 here.

-ECCA2023 Wednesday 21 June, 2023 here.

-ECCA2023 Extra photos (side events, creative arts, presentations, workshops, etc.) here.