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Copenhagen climate adaptation forum calls for innovation in thinking and technology


  • Denmark

The 7th European Forum on Eco-Innovation provided recommendations to remove a series of barriers in the drive for climate-change adaptation as the essential partner to mitigation.

The forum – a joint initiative of the Danish Ministry for the Environment and the European Commission – brought together stakeholders from business, R&D, policymaking and NGOs on 23 and 24 November 2009 in Copenhagen.

“Climate change is no longer a theory but is happening,” insisted Troels Lund Poulsen, the Danish Minister for the Environment. “We need new knowledge and ideas through partnerships between public and private sectors and knowledge providers to clarify the needs and overcome the restraints.”

Adaptation to climate change is essential to meet the effects of changes over the past 50 years. Measures are required at global, national, regional and local level – including more efficient use of scarce water resources, better spatial planning to attenuate climate-change effects and ensuring nature is in the best position to survive. Adaptation will take time, but action is required immediately as underlined in a recent European Commission White Paper.

Key recommendations

Key recommendations from the forum included the need not only to develop new technologies but also to remove barriers to exploiting existing ones. Participants strongly supported the need for longer-term decision making by politicians as climate-change is inherently a political process with costs in terms of both finance and opportunities. There is also a need to review legal constraints with better communication and co-ordination between different policy groups.

Governments must provide strong market signals to promote private investment, and push for adaptation in global-climate agreement with sufficient public and private financing. Above all, there is a strong requirement to bridge the gap between research and development, and technology deployment through public support for demonstration projects and innovative financial mechanisms.

The public sector also needs to give strong market signals to get business on board and to make changes happen. Public procurement must think in terms of partnership goals through value chains rather in terms of units. And joint responsibilities are required among all levels of government and industry to implement specific projects to realise a climate-friendly society.

There is also a need for financial assistance to change behaviour at all levels, including citizens. This should involve stimulating markets for and community interest in adaptation through practical pilot projects, sharing examples of community use.

“Innovation is needed in products, systems and business models,” concluded Timo Mäkelä, Director for Sustainable Development at the European Commission Environment DG. “We must encourage the deployment of R&D results, ensure sustainable financing and encourage the public sector to play its role in mobilising the private sector through reducing regulatory barriers and opening up new markets.”

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