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Adapting/Adopting: Perspectives on International Cooperation in Addressing Climate Change

Adapting/Adopting: Perspectives on International Cooperation in Addressing Climate Change
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Adapting/Adopting: Perspectives on International Cooperation in Addressing Climate Change

Nicole Wilke
Alina Bokde

On May 6, 2008, an Ecologic International Riverside Chat brought together Alina Bokde and Nicole Wilke to discuss the topics of adaptation and adoption of climate policies in the context of addressing the challenges associated with climate change. Alina Bokde is Vice President of the Environmental Affairs Commission of Los Angeles, Nicole Wilke is Head of the International Climate Policy Division at the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. The speakers touched upon the competing roles of adaptation and mitigation, innovative efforts to adapt to the effects of climate change and the importance of information gathering, sharing and learning.

In her initial remarks, Alina Bokde provided a brief overview of efforts and challenges of Los Angeles City with regards to the effects of climate change, emphasizing land use planning as a means of adaptation.  Land use planning can incorporate, among other aspects, the development of mass transit in order to reduce of the carbon footprint of the city and its residents.  She also stressed the importance of information-sharing and learning in Los Angeles. In response to a follow-up question, Alina Bokde discussed the concern regarding the potential rise in sea level as a way to develop urgency around the issue climate change and as an impetus to further educate people.

Nicole Wilke concentrated more conceptually on the topics of adaptation and mitigation, emphasising that the two concepts are closely linked.  Adaptation is not affordable without mitigation, but adaptation necessitates a more regional approach in contrast to global mitigation solutions.  She then discussed efforts towards the development of EU and German adaptation strategies, highlighting the current absence of such large-scale strategies.  

In the discussion following the two speakers’ statements, many international participants presented initiatives that were currently underway in their respective countries to address climate change.  The comparative difficulty of adaptation and mitigation was discussed at length as well as priorities in adaptation strategies. The developed/developing country divide on the priority of adaptation strategies was another issue raised.  Information sharing and learning from other countries/regions experiences were also brought up throughout the evening.

The International Riverside Chat took place in conjunction with a thematic visitors programme entitled "Climate Protection – International Cooperation on Climate and Energy".  This programme included participants from Algeria, Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Egypt, Pakistan, Russia, Ukraine and the United States for a week-long exploration of climate and energy issues in the German and international context.