On 22 April 2013, the Embassy of the United States and Ecologic Institute hosted a lunch seminar presenting the results of a transatlantic research project on cultural perceptions of climate change and adaptation in coastal regions. This project, undertaken by Duke University and Ecologic Institute, examines how people’s values and beliefs in coastal zones of Germany and the United States shape decision making and adaptive capacity in the face of experienced and future climate change impacts, notably sea level rise.
The lunch seminar featured presentations from Dr. Mike Orbach and Alexandra Donargo (Duke University, North Carolina); Jeffrey Allenby (Chesapeake Conservancy, Maryland) and Dr. Grit Martinez (Ecologic Institute). The expert speakers presented experiences of climate change adaptation on both sides of the Atlantic. Speakers highlighted that when adapting to climate change, historical and cultural values can be of greater importance than an area’s geophysical characteristics. Dr. Martinez shared insights from the German Baltic Sea, where two communities had very different attitudes to climate adaptation due to their historical paths of development. The speakers agreed on the importance of ‘champions’ to push for funding and action on adapting to sea level rise. Following the presentations, participants discussed the role of heritage and how policies to ‘retreat or defend’ coastlines are perceived by different communities in the United States and Germany.
This lunch seminar is the kick-off event of a series of activities taking place on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of Ecologic Institute's US presence in Washington, DC. The office was founded on Earth Day 2008.