Baltadapt Workshop | 28 October 2011 | Riga, Latvia
How are climate change and climate adaptation perceived by decision makers in the eastern part of the Baltic Sea Region? What will be the impact of climate change particularly for the coastal regions and how can local actors prepare for it? What knowledge is available and what measures are already being implemented successfully?
These questions were addressed at the workshop on Climate knowledge for regional coastal stakeholders in the eastern Baltic Sea region in Riga on 28 October 2011. The workshop was part of a workshop series organised by Ecologic Institute as a joint activity of the projects Baltadapt, RADOST and "Regional availability of climate data in the Baltic Sea States (Circum Mare Balticum)". The other workshops of the series took place in Gdańsk, Poland and Klaipeda, Lithuania.
Impressions from the workshop
The final workshop took place as a side event to the OurCoast stakeholder conference. In addition to Latvian stakeholders, Estonian stakeholders were also invited to this workshop. However, only a few participants from Estonia were present. They came from the Estonian Association of Cities, where the city of Tallinn, the city Maardu, Kuressaare City Council and the University of Tartu and the Ministry of Environment are represented. From Latvia representatives from the Ministry of Environment and Rural Development, from different departments of the city of Riga, the city of Liepaja, the city Rucava, the city Grobina and representatives from the Baltic Environmental Forum and the University of Riga were present at the workshop.
The introductory presentations by representatives of the projects Baltadapt and Radost were followed by a led discussion on adaptation measures and needed actions for adaptation. When asked about existing adaptation measures, flood control facilities planned for Riga, warning systems for natural disasters or models for wave and wind patterns were mentioned by the participants. However, it was also said that adaptation measures have already been implemented for a long time, such as coastal protection, without explicitly calling them adaptation measures.
The answers when asked about the needs to address adaptation can be categorized in the following topics:
- Information: It was noted that understandable information is necessary and useful ways of distribution of this information is required. The provision of information as a basis for decisions is a huge responsibility. Scientists have been criticized as unwilling to accept this responsibility because they seem to constantly emphasize the uncertainty of climate knowledge. It was also mentioned that Latvia lacks institutions capable of transferring knowledge in an appropriate manner. That led to a discussion on the different types of information and how different actors require different types. It was agreed that the provision of information about climate change should be tailored to the needs of specific target groups.
- Climate data: Better monitoring programmes are needed to document climate change. Due to the financial crisis, many monitoring programmes in Latvia have been cut.
- Funding: General funding is necessary for adaptation measures. Adaptation investments are however not given a high priority. The financial crisis was also mentioned because many adaptation measures could not be taken up due to a lack of funds. International support possibilities and more help from the EU are called for.
- Integration: Adaptation measures should not be understood as their own separate topic but rather as an interdisciplinary issue that should be integrated into other policy fields. For example, Coastal protection and tourism should be considered together.
To summarize, four major information gaps were identified in the discussion:
1. Information gaps at the local level
2. Information gaps at the societal level regarding climate change
3. Information gaps about possible adaptation measures
4. Information gaps at the government level regarding the responsibility for adaptation measures
Subsequently, Mr. Lehners reported from Lübeck on the commitment of local stakeholders in the planning and implementation of a coastal protection measure at Timmendorfer beach. Andris Urtans (Environmental Protection Agency, Latvia) reported on "Implementation of climate change adaptation measures in Salacgriva Municipality". He stressed the involvement of the local population in the implementation of adaptation measures – and, consequently, the greater legitimacy of the measures within the population. The example from the regional adaptation strategy also showed that continuity in key policy positions is a success factor for innovative (adaptation) measures and is crucial for the realization of long-term projects.
The final block of the event was the ‘ad hoc’ survey on perception of climate change. The survey was moderated by Lana Saksone (Latvian Academy of Science). Due to the small number of participants the results of that survey are not representative and therefore not evaluated in detail, but they may give an indication of possible discussion points. Thus, all respondents agreed that a possible sea level rise is something over which one should be worried. Moreover a possible increase in storm events and storm surges was assessed as being problematic as well as coastal erosion. The possible increase in sunshine hours in contrast is seen very positive for the region.