Bottom up Adaptation Strategies for a Sustainable Europe

Adaptation Dialogue: Behind the scenes of ECCA 2015, with Dr Hans Sanderson

This May in Copenhagen, over a thousand leading climate adaptation scientists, decision makers, and practitioners will once again convene for the European Climate Change Adaptation Conference (ECCA 2015). In this Adaptation Dialogue, we talk with Dr Hans Sanderson, Head of the ECCA 2015 Organizing Committee, who speaks about the history and importance of ECCA, as well as what goes into planning an event of this scale.


Dr Hans Sanderson, BASE project coordinator and faculty member of the Department of Environmental Science, Aarhus University, is less than a month away from the start of ECCA 2015, an event whose preparation he has been overseeing for more than a year. First held in Hamburg in 2013, ECCA was an initiative of the European Commission bringing together a number of European climate adaptation projects under the idea that the impact of hosting one large adaptation would exceed that of multiple smaller conferences.


After the success of the 2013 conference, “ECCA has become a tradition in the European system”, says Sanderson, noting that it “continues to push the science barrier, getting more and more information out about where we’re at with the state of the art in adaptation.” To this end, he places it alongside the PROVIA conference as the “two large global adaptation conferences”, which will ideally occur on alternating years, “as long as it is relevant.”


The business aspect: A new focus of ECCA


While the first ECCA focused heavily on identifying the costs and benefits of adaptation, ECCA 2015 compliments this with a new focus on business aspects and job creation. “There is a recognition that adaptation is not just a research and policy area, it is also a business area. There are being made large investments in adaptation across Europe already, and that means that there is a business opportunity for those that realise those investments.” For Sanderson, this means there is also an opportunity for the European to export technologies and expertise to support adaptation globally. “We try to involve as much as possible industry and companies that can contribute to technological solutions in a broad sense, and that can facilitate the actual adaptation taking place.”


The focus on the private sector in ECCA 2015 is immediately apparent. Numerous companies are scheduled to present at the exhibition being held on the site during the event, while business aspects form the core topic of several sessions and workshops focusing on developing partnerships and fostering adaptation entrepreneurship. Sanderson also points to the four State of Green site visits being offered during the conference. In these site visits, participants can see first hand some of the numerous adaptation activities already being undertaken in the Copenhagen area. These include sustainable coastal protection with a recreational focus at Køge Bugt Beach Park, and St. Kjelds Quarter, Copenhagen’s first climate adapted neighbourhood.

Video: Dr. Hans Sanderson speaks about ECCA 2015.

Voting with your feet: Designing the programme


In addition to the increased focus on the business aspects, Sanderson thinks ECCA 2015 is also unique because of the manner in which the programme was identified. “One of the neat things about the 2015 conference is that we had a very open, and bottom-up approach.” The organising committee asked a broad audience of the adaptation community to submit session proposals, and on this basis abstracts for individual sessions were solicited, allowing the participants to drive which events were focused upon in the final programme. “A lot of setting up the programme of ECCA 2015 was really by having researchers and practitioners and business to ‘vote with their feet’ to see what needs to be done in terms of sessions.” The final programme features over 60 presentation sessions, 20 workshops, poster sessions, numerous plenary discussions, and multiple keynote addresses from high level speakers.


Asked if there is anything in particular he is most looking forward to at ECCA, Sanderson instead unveils a laundry list of events: the opening and closing plenary discussions, a keynote speech by former European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, the numerous exhibitors, and a performance by percussionist Mohammad Reza Mortazavi, which Sanderson says with a small laugh, “I think is going to blow some people’s minds.”


ECCA 2015 will take place from 12-14 May 2015, in Copenhagen, Denmark. Registration is still available here.

Publication Type: