What Do ‘Transformative Adaptation Strategies to Climate Change’ Look Like?

Dorset LNP Workshop on Adaption Strategies

I participated in the LNP Dorset workshop “A Climate Change Adaptation Framework for Dorset” this Tuesday at Kingston Mauward College, outside of Dorchester — a completely appropriate venue if we were looking to talk about regenerative agriculture, building cooperative programmes and a circular economy.

And we were talking about those topics – well done LNP Dorset and KWC for hosting our first local meeting to discuss the development of a climate change adaption framework.

But, why now?

Climate Emergency

Dorset Council declared a climate emergency on 16 May 2019.

This is in line with many cities around the world and comes after some inspiring leadership from Greta Thunberg and what has been termed the “Greta Thunberg Effect“.

The climate science community has produced an almost endless stream of research that most of us mere mortals have not worked through let alone skim-read. Science doesn’t care what we believe; it is a methodology. In fact, science has proven itself to be the best methodology we have in developing an objective understanding of the world around us.

What the science is telling us is that our species is in trouble, because we have carelessly consumed Earth’s resources and polluted the air, water and land. Now our climate is changing as a result, our polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising and ecosystems globally are on the brink of collapse. That’s a broad view of our situation, as with more complex systems, it’s much more complicated than this overview would suggest — when we look more closely.

Transformative Adaptation Strategies

Transformative: we evaluate a current approach that doesn’t seem to be doing what we need it to do and move into an entirely different approach. Not incrementally change our approach that isn’t working. That is not transformative. Think sports car morphing into Alien robot with missiles and attitude. Transformer. Transformative. Transformation.

Adaptation Strategies: cunning plans to change behaviour in the face of a changing environment.

I recently attended the UNFCCC’s Resilience Frontiers 5-day futuring event in South Korea. I blogged all about what we did. They have recently made an excellent tabular summary of the outputs of that workshop and I have made a first attempt at putting together a presentation on those outputs for our recent Dorset LNP workshop.

But let me summarise the summaries for you — we have three strategic adaptation strategies whose local implementation must be ‘transformative’.

  1. Create a powerful new local ‘nature-first’ culture: we don’t have a ‘nature-first’ culture, and we need to figure this out if our communities are to thrive in the future. It may even solve some of today’s problems!
  2. Retool local collaborations and democratic engagement of population: we need to energise our population with a positive can-do, ‘nature-first’ approach to making our communities resilient in a way that traditional democracy no longer seems to accomplish. We need more Greta’s. Lots more. We absolutely need to involve children and youth in this. They have the greater stake in the future.
  3. Strengthen the ‘stand-alone’ local economy: our greatest challenge is the prevailing economic paradigm that prays to the God of Growth. We must have growth! Nonsense. It is taking us the wrong way. Even 3% growth nearly doubles consumption every 24 years. Not sustainable. We can’t change the world locally, but what we can do is strength the independence, interdependencies and circularity of our local economy. Make it more ‘stand-alone’. Buy local. Trade local. Educate and hire local. Create a local economy out of local renewables. Keep spending flowing around the local economy and each pound becomes more valuable. Create systems that produce energy, not consume energy.

Those are a few thoughts from Bonn, Germany this morning, as I pack up and head down to the Scientific Dialogue on Adaption Strategies for Climate Change. I am presenting a poster on the work of the Healthy Urban Microbiome Initiative (HUMIhttp://www.humi.site), which is one Prevention at Scale programme of the Sustainable ‘Transformation’ Partnership (STP) of Our Dorset.

This futures blog

This blog series is about how we create ‘healthy places’ and what our possible ‘futures’ could be given current trends and momentum within society, the economic and political systems, and the environment. I use the plural ‘futures’ intentionally, because our future is not predetermined (I hope), we can and should work towards the future we want. This blog aims to generate discussion (maybe even some debate) around ‘Healthy places futures’ in the hope that if we all put our minds to it, a collective vision may emerge to inform any strategy we might put in place to get us to our preferred future. We’ll be leaning heavily on futuring tools found on our Shaping Tomorrow hosted website: phd.shapingtomorrow.com.

The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed (William Gibson 1993).re

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