Policy programme Deltas in Practice
The Deltas in Practice sessions are hosted and organized by a variety of international stakeholders. Sessions will take place in the afternoon of Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 September, and on Friday morning 1 October.
Special attention will be given to the outcome of the sessions, which should be solution oriented and of value for all visitors worldwide, whether it is from the perspective of learning, sharing experiences or raising awareness. The outcome and follow up actions will be presented in the plenary meetings and high level panel discussions on the closing day.
The sessions are structured around five themes:
1. Finance and Economy
The Copenhagen Conference of Parties under the UNFCCC agreed to collectively provide new and additional resources through international institutions approaching USD 30 billion for the period 2010 -2012 with balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation. Developed countries commit to a goal of mobilizing USD 100 billion annually by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. This funding will come from a variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance. New multilateral funding for adaptation will be delivered through effective and efficient fund arrangements.
But, adaptation and financing is not simply “a bag of money”. Rather, financing is a strategic function to pursue long term visions and targets for sustainable development of societies in an efficient manner whether presently rich or less so.
The objectives of the theme on financing are to present and discuss long term outlooks on planning for adaptation, the role of finance, the types and amounts of financing, national and urban views on financing modalities and requirements, and guidance tools for financial and investment assessments for global, national, urban and project level under the uncertainties of climate change.
The sessions of the Financing Theme will start out with brief introductions setting the scene, followed by topical Round Table discussions, and closed off with a plenary interactive reporting by the sessions and a High Level Round Table on Friday 1 October.
The agenda coming from the high level Round Table will be offered to follow up dialogues and events e.g. the COP-15 and the WWF-6 etc. as well as financiers and/or clients.
2. Urban planning and infrastructure
Global warming has altered the world’s hydrological cycles causing changes in traditional water supplies, as well as an increase in the frequency and severity of droughts, floods and extreme weather events. Urban planning has proved to be the key element in adaptation strategies and measures, whether it concerns urban climate (heat island effect), urban water management or sustainable energy infrastructure.
The need to successfully adapt to these conditions calls for a change in the traditional relationship between those who design, build and maintain cities and water/energy professionals. It is essential that city planners, architects, energy providers and water professionals are aware of their role in climate change adaptation and of the opportunities climate change can offer in making delta cities more attractive and prosperous.
The objective of the theme “Redesigning the Urban Form” is to explore innovative forms of urban design that increase social and economic benefits to the city and improve ecosystem services while being resilient and adaptable to climate change.
The sessions will be focused around creating more liveable cities, optimising water transport, turning flood protection into an opportunity for multi-functional, spatial redesign and building innovative infrastructure systems. Strategies, concepts and best practice case studies from around the world will be presented with adequate time provided for discussion. The theme will conclude with a design ‘workshop’ where participants will have an opportunity to explore the feasibility and use of the lessons learned.
Climate adaptation requires a long-term perspective and co-operation between national, regional and local governments, between the public and private sector, between science and practice, and, last but not least, climate adaptation needs the awareness and involvement of civil society. In other words, adapting delta cities to climate change may require a new governance of space, water, infrastructure and the environment. Why is dealing with climate change so difficult? How can we better govern climate adaptation? What new institutional arrangements are needed? In five sessions we will try to find some answers to these difficult questions.
4. Flood risk management
In most delta regions, people live and work both inside and outside the levees. Climate change increases the risk of levee breach or flooding. In order to guarantee safety against flooding in a changing climate, proactive measures are needed. It is therefore essential to invest in developing knowledge and to exchange experiences about water systems and possible adaptive measures, following innovative and integrative approaches while addressing both short and long term scenarios. Investing now will prevent huge costs in the long run.
In the sessions flood risk management and adaptation will be addressed from various perspectives:
- innovative and smart flood defence technologies in an urban context, but also the need for integration in the context of spatial planning; both extremely relevant in densely populated areas
- community-based disaster risk reduction and the relative importance of ongoing land subsidence; both very relevant in many low lying deltas.
We will explore pathways to prepare for an uncertain future, complemented with existing experiences with adaptive measures in areas without dikes as in the Dutch Delta.
5. Resources and Ecology
Economic development enabling a range of human activities like fisheries, agriculture, urban development, transportation, recreation, etc., especially in delta regions, has induced profound changes in the land use and hydrological situation. Constructions like dams, dikes and weirs have altered the spatial and hydrological conditions. This has often led to a reduction in ecosystem functioning of the delta region. But also the accumulation of measures and constructions endangers the economic activities, the very reason for these measures. Awareness is growing that ecosystems are central in supporting livelihoods, economic activities and provide resilience against freshwater shortages and natural disasters.
It goes without saying that incorporating this ‘green‘ insight into the development of water management measures is a matter that entails looking at the hydrological and land use conditions of whole catchment areas, from source to mouth. For instance, forests retain water from rainfall to release it at a slower pace over dryer periods, hydro-powerdams regulate the riverflow but also reduce the natural discharge variation and hinder fish migration, and water abstraction upstream diminishes the water availability downstream.
The objective of the theme Resources and Ecology is to increase awareness of both policy-makers and scientists of the opportunities and limits for ecologically sustainable development under demographic, land use and climatic change at local, national and transboundary level.
Deltas are confronted with many threats. Climate change adds to these, but also offers opportunities. The need to address these challenges calls for cooperation worldwide. Therefore one of the conference goals is to foster cooperation between deltas and delta cities and to strengthen starting and existing networks. The sessions under the theme cooperation will be specifically focussed on discussing possibilities for and modes of cooperation.