The 3rd Annual Great Lakes Adaptation Forum

Thursday, October 4, 2018

NE CASC Tribal Liaisons Sara Smith and Casey Thornbrugh as well as NE CASC Principal Investigator Chris Caldwell (pictured), NE CASC Fellows Rob Mooney, Jamie Mosel, and others from across the region gathered for the 3rd Annual Great Lakes Adaptation Forum (GLAF). The forum brought together practitioners and scholars from across the Great Lakes region of Canada and the United States for three days of sharing climate adaptation and resilience solutions and products in an engaged learning program. Sara, Rob, and Jamie shared their experiences.

What are your takeaways from the conference?  
Sara: “There is a continued growing interest in Indigenous Communities, their adaptation/resilience planning and actions, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and partnerships with Tribes and organizations, institutions, State and Federal government agencies. There is also a great interest in climate change tools, resources, and guides for planning and implementation.”

Jamie: "There are so many people, across many professions and backgrounds, working diligently to understand and respond to effects of climate change, and across many different systems from forests and wetlands, to major cities and small towns and communities. This was among my first experiences at a meeting that introduced me to the variety of work that is happening on the ground. Academic and scientific conferences can sometimes feel isolated from the work that people are applying directly to their communities, and it was reinvigorating to see the dedication, creativity, resilience, and hard work that people are doing in the face of climate change. It reminded me of my own responsibilities to make my science actionable, and of my own goals to provide information that can help guide pressing real-world issues for our environment."

Rob: "Overall, the intersections of climate, economics, and social sciences was very intriguing and eye-opening, and I have never had the opportunity to hear those conversations before. It was also awesome to see some presentations about collaborative efforts between graduate students, professors, and adaptation managers. Seeing actionable science lead to direct climate adaption was really cool!”

Did you see a new interest in any particular topic?  
Sara:  “As for a new interest, from the sessions I attended, there seemed to be a "new" interest in equity when thinking about climate change adaptation. It is not really a new concept, at least from my background and on-the-ground work, but it seemed to be something that was brought up often at this conference that I had not really heard much of before in other climate centered conferences”

Jamie:  "I found the keynote addresses  by Dr. Dan Wildcat to be especially inspiring calls to action. I also really enjoyed the “Leadership at all Levels: From Planning to Action – How Tribal Communities are Leading Resilience Efforts in the Region.” Native Nations and Tribal communities continue to be leaders in climate adaptation, and it is always important to see that work highlighted. There were so many excellent topic sessions, aimed at providing information, resources, and discussion relevant to climate adaptation at many levels, so it was hard to choose between which to attend. The forum provided actual tools, strategies, examples, and collaborations that can be applied to climate change adaptation efforts, and the opportunity to attend GLAF gave me an important glimpse of how I might help to meet the needs of those working to implement adaptation and resilience."

Did you see something innovative or a new community of practice working together to find solutions?
Sara:  “I was excited to see the development of a new tool - Midwest Resilience Index -which is in its draft stages right now. It is seems to be centered on urban areas but I think that it has great potential to be useful in small communities, neighborhoods, and Tribes. I am also excited to see the NCA4 (Fourth National Climate Assessment) that is coming out in December, and potentially helping with the next assessment.”

Rob:  "It was great to think about climate change and adaptation from the perspective of managers and practitioners. One of the most interesting sessions was Beyond Borders: Eliminating Barriers. As a group we discussed barriers that climate scientists and adaptation managers face. Not surprisingly, the politicization of climate change was a common theme, and that many people make up their mind about climate change solely based on their political alignment. It was also interesting to hear specific examples of barriers.  For example, although in some communities the public would prefer green infrastructure, there is fear that implementation of green infrastructure would exacerbate gentrification and increase cost of living."

Jamie: "(Dan Wildcat's keynote address) emphasized that to live well is “to live respectfully with our relatives”, and urged that “we are surrounded by relatives, not resources.” Reframing ways of thinking to recognize that natural resources have inherent worth for their own sake, and recognizing there is a system of responsibilities, relations, and respect is truly vital towards moving forward. This struck directly at some of the tensions I feel in the field of “Natural Resources” – that so often work can feel one-sided, extractive, and neglectful of the greater connections between relatives. I think that this address really helped to direct my thinking during the conference, and will continue to influence my work."


NE CASC sponsors the Great Lakes Adaptation Forum in partnership with other climate science organizations GLISA, ASAP, NIACS, USDN, Headwater Economics, The National Adaptation Forum, and the College of Menominee Nation. 

Written by Communications Intern Mike Crowley