18 June 2018 - 21 June 2018
Cape Town, South Africa

RISK at Adaptation Futures 2018

Adaptation Futures to be held in Cape Town, South Africa from 18-21 June is the world’s premier conference on climate change adaptation. We invite you to join over 1000 scientists, practitioners, business leaders and policymakers from around the world to connect, learn and inspire. Adaptation Futures 2018 aims to facilitate dialogues for solutions between key actors from diverse perspectives and regions.

© HandmadePictures | Shutterstock

© HandmadePictures | Shutterstock

This is the first time the conference is held on the African continent. We aim to use this setting to foreground developing country adaptation issues and increase developing world and African participation.

IIASA and the RISK program are organizing and participating in a number of sessions including:

Climate risk management and transformation: working towards solutions for dealing with risks 'beyond adaptation'

(Special session 144, Wednesday, 20 June, 16:30-17:45)

Climate risk management has been gaining traction as an analytical and practical approach for broadly responding to climate change impacts and addressing adaptation deficits. Climate risk management may comprise incremental (e.g., raising dikes), fundamental (floodplains instead of dikes) and transformative interventions (voluntary migration from floodplains, shifts in livelihoods). Building on research contributions to the debate and a forthcoming book, Reinhard Mechler will run the session, which brings together science and practice in order to inform policy (adaptation and Loss and Damage) as well as implementation. The session outlines the basic concept and rationale, then presents recent sectorial and place-based applications, such as on early warning, flood risk management, risk financing in India, Nepal, Mexico and Africa.  

RISK is also contributing to a session by the INGO Mercy Corps to report on the Flood Resilience Measurement Tool pioneered by the Flood Resilience Alliance with key contributions by IIASA. The Flood Resilience Measurement Tool has been applied to more than 100 communities in over 10 countries globally. The presentation will feature how the tool has supported communities to better understand their disaster and climate resilience options, and inform humanitarian and development project implementation, programming and policy formulation.

Communities: Enhancing Resilience

(Session S314, Slot 7, Wednesday, 20 June, 14:15) 

Adaptation at community level is key to resilience of any country to climate change, although often poorly documented, not well understood and/or represented in national adaptation plans.  Livelihoods of rural communities in particular are closely linked to immediate ecological resources resulting in human-environmental interactions that are captured under the concept of socio-ecological systems.  Information on the resilience of socio-ecological systems to climate change risks in different regions is scanty.  This session will focus on grass-root level response to climate change in developing countries over different socio-ecological systems elucidating among others on issues of vulnerability, governance, adaptive learning and adaptive management. 

RISK is contributing to the session by learnings from a series of action research projects from Western and Southwestern China mountains and Western Nepal lower and upper Karnali river basins, related to building earthquake, flood, and landslide disaster resilience for communities. These projects all include researcher-practitioner collaboration, and belong to the following programs – the Zurich Global Flood Resilience Program, UK NERC’s SHEAR program, and UNESCO-China’s World Heritage Sustainable Community Development program, respectively. This presentation will enablers and barriers to successful partnership building at both program and project levels, which are useful for decision makers and funders to re-design formal and information institutional and financial mechanisms to promote partnership for resilience. 

Reflexive governance as an approach of overcoming complexities and uncertainties, and increasing resilience of adaptation and mitigation governance

(Poster presentation, Jenan Irshaid)

The difficulties in the governance of climate action can generally be summarised within two specific problems. First, climate mitigation and climate adaptation governance are often faced with complexities due to diverging values, beliefs and norms in society. Further problems in climate governance are related to scientific or factual uncertainty but also to gaps in knowledge and ambiguity of socio-economic, socio-political and socio-technical nature. Second, adaptation and mitigation governance have so far been mostly regarded as separate policy fields. The current academic debate on the integration of mitigation and adaptation points out that mitigation and adaptation are interlinked and integration can create positive synergies.  This analytical framework proposes a reflexive governance approach for resilient and sustainable adaptation and mitigation governance. Within the research project “Reflexive Governance in a Changing Climate: How to Address Uncertainties in Transformation Strategies?” funded by the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund and implemented by the Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt and the Universität für Bodenkultur Vienna, this analytical framework will be applied to the case study of the Austrian energy and agricultural sectors. The IIASA Risk & Resilience program focuses research on reflexivity in governance processes in developing countries.

Book: Science for Loss and Damage. Concepts, Methods and Policy Options

The book provides critical insight into the Loss and Damage discourse by highlighting state-of-the-art research and policy related to Loss and Damage. It articulates the multiple concepts, principles and methods relevant for the debate, including those that have only recently become available. This volume is the first comprehensive outcome of the Loss and Damage Network, a science-policy-practice partnership effort by scientists and practitioners from more than 20 institutions around the globe. 

H2020 Project: PHUSICOS - Solutions to reduce risk in mountain landscapes

PHUSICOS – “According to nature” in Greek – is funded by the EU Horizon 2020 program. It will demonstrate how nature-based solutions provide robust, sustainable and cost-effective measures for reducing the risk of extreme weather events and enhance climate adaptation in rural mountain landscapes.  

PHUSICOS will carry out activities in 3 demonstration and 2 concept cases across Europe and will result in key climate adaptation knowledge useful for mountain regions worldwide. IIASA leads the Governance Innovation work package in PHUSICOS for the design and implementation of nature-based solutions. 

Wei Liu will be presenting on behalf PHUSICOS at the EU Stand in the Adaptation EXPO at 10:30-11:00 am on 20 June. 


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Last edited: 15 June 2018


Reinhard Mechler

Acting Program Director

Risk and Resilience

T +43(0) 2236 807 313


Wei Liu

Research Scholar

Risk and Resilience

T +43(0) 2236 807 255


Jenan Irshaid

Research Assistant


Risk and Resilience

T +43(0) 2236 807 265

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313