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2016 North American Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation

Wed, Aug 17, 2016    9am

August 17-18, 2016


Columbia University students, faculty, and staff that are not presenting papers may register to attend for free at adaptation@columbia.edu.

Download the full schedule

North America and the Caribbean are affected by extreme weather and climate change at a variety of scales and within the context of an even greater diversity of geographies, ecologies and institutions. Whereas droughts affect the western part of the U.S. and Canada, the eastern portion of the continent is particularly prone to flooding and sea level rise. Even in the Caribbean, where tropical cyclones have been the primary risk factor for generations, a persistent drought is leading to severe ecological stresses that are driving unprecedented transformations in economy and society.

According to the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), recent climate variations and individual extreme events demonstrate both impacts of climate-related stresses and the vulnerabilities of exposed systems. Many climate stresses that carry risk—particularly related to severe heat, heavy precipitation, and declining snowpack—will increase in frequency and/or severity in North America in the coming decades.

AR5 also states that current and future climate-related drivers of risk for small islands during the21st century, such as those in the Caribbean region, will include sea level rise (SLR), tropical and extratropical cyclones, increasing air and sea surface temperatures, and changing rainfall patterns. In addition, these patterns are likely to persist in some of the most advanced urban environments in the world, including Miami, Washington, D.C., New York and Boston. Among other things, AR5 states that adaptation to climate change generates greater benefits when delivered in conjunction with other development activities, such as disaster risk reduction and community-based approaches to development. Whether it is a sparsely populated Caribbean island or a major continental urban region, adaptation processes are increasingly be recognized as critical steps where conventional modes of consumption, production, and risk mitigation are unsustainable.

The above state of affairs illustrates the need for a better understanding of how climate change affects North America and for the identification of processes, methods and tools which may help countries and communities to develop an adaptive capacity. There is also a critical need to showcase successful examples of how to manage the social, economic and political complexities posed by climate change, so that lessons can be learned and best practices may be disseminated.

It is against this background that the North American Symposium On Climate Change Adaptation (Symposium) is being organized by the International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP), Columbia University (USA), Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO) and the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany). Taking place in New York City from August 16-18th 2016, the Symposium will be a truly interdisciplinary event, mobilizing scholars, practitioners and members of governmental agencies, undertaking research and/or executing climate change projects in North America and the Caribbean region.

The North American Symposium On Climate Change Adaptation will focus on “fostering resilience and the regional capacity to adapt,” meaning that it will serve the purpose of showcasing experiences from research, field projects and best practices in climate change adaptation and resilience among countries in the region, which may being to translate the integration of climate science with socio-economic policies in the public and private sectors.

The plenary and parallel sessions, as well as the social events, will provide participants with an outstanding opportunity to interact, network and learn about the latest ideas, projects and practices, mainstreaming climate change adaptation in North America and the Caribbean.


Professor Walter Leal, Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) and Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany)
Prof. Jesse M. Keenan, Columbia GSAPP (USA)

Scientific Committee
Dr. Alex Apotsos, Williams College and US Agency for International Development, USA
Dr. Juan Carlos Belausteguigoitia, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, Mexico
Prof. Harry Polo Diaz, University of Regina, Canada
Dr. Yannick Glemarec, UN Women, USA
Dr. Radley Horton, Columbia University / NASA, USA
Dr. Michaela Hynie, York University, Canada Prof. Bernardus HJ de Jong, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Mexico Prof. Moktar Lamari, University of Québec, Canada Prof. James C. McCann, Boston University, USA Dr. James MacLellan, University of Toronto, Canada Prof. Leonard Nurse, University of the West Indies, Barbados Prof. Kate Orff, Columbia University, USA Dr. Ma. de Lourdes Villers Ruiz, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico Prof. Adam Sobel, Columbia University, USA Prof. Maria Eugenia Ibarraran Viniegra, Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla, Mexico Dr. Johanna Wandel, University of Waterloo, Canada

Scientific Support
Dr. Jelena Barbir, International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP)

Cooperating Organizations
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
World Health Organisation (WHO)
World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)
International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP)
International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)

Center for Urban Real Estate (CURE.)
Hamburg University of Applied Sciences
Association of Climate Change Officers
International Climate Change Information Programme
Columbia University Extreme Weather and Climate Initiative

The North American Symposium on Climate Change Adaptation will be held from August 16-18, 2016 in New York, NY, on the campus of Columbia University.

August 16, 2016
Afternoon: Arrival and Set-up of Displays/Posters
Evening: Informal Get-together of Participants for Informal Conversations and Networking

August 17, 2016
All day: Exhibition and visit to displays
Morning: Plenary and Sessions
Afternoon: Plenary and Sessions
Evening: Reception

August 18, 2016
Morning: Plenary and sessions
Exhibition and visit to displays/posters

Afternoon: Plenary and sessions
Exhibition and visit to displays/posters
Round-table with key experts & conclusions, including awards for the Best Papers

In order to ensure an efficient use of the time, delegates are kindly asked to organize their travel in a way that allows them to arrive in New York in the course of August 16, 2016, and travel back on or after the August 19, 2016, so they can fully take part in the Symposium.

Fees and Charges
$350 (USD) / €308 (Euro) (professionals) or $175 (USD) / €154 (Euro), plus 19% VAT. The fee includes lunches and coffee breaks on August 17th and 18th, as well as the evening reception on August 17th.

Organizations or individuals not able to pay this fee should contact the Secretariat so that it may be reduced in special cases. Interested people and organizations are encouraged to register by completing the application form provided. This is a self-funded event and the organizers are unable to pay any travel or accommodation costs of any kind. They are however happy to issue letters of invitation to support delegates to request funding for their participation.