National Adaptation Forum Committee members and leaders from the American Society of Adaptation Professionals’ peer learning groups co-developed Special Sessions to highlight topics of interest across the field of adaptation. Any individual who wishes to have their work incorporated into a special session is invited to submit an Individual Oral Presentation proposal. The proposal should describe a 15-minute presentation that aligns with one of the 11 topic areas listed below and the proposed format of the presentation (e.g., storytelling, oral presentation, artistic performance). If accepted, your proposal will be incorporated into a larger session based on that topic area. If you are interested in joining a Special Session Organizing Team, please email Eliza Garcia at email@example.com.
There are 11 Special Session topic areas. Please scroll down to read the full descriptions:
- Building and Maintaining Cross-Sector Collaborations
- Community-Led Adaptation Innovations
- Climate Trauma and Healing
- Climate Displacement, Managed Retreat, and Relocation
- Intergeneration Collaboration and Leadership in Climate Adaptation
- Ecological Transformation in a Changing Climate
- Monitoring and Evaluation of Adaptation Progress and Successes
- Art, Adaptation, and Community
- Challenging White Supremacist Adaptation Practices
- Bridging the Urban-Rural-Natural Landscape Divide
- Adaptation Policy and Governance
Building and Maintaining Cross-Sector Collaborations
How might we integrate experience, expertise, and relationships from across multiple sectors to improve adaptation planning and outcomes?
Connection, partnership, and collaboration across sectors increases intentionality, innovation, and efficacy of climate adaptation work. We are accepting proposals that showcase informative examples of cross-sector collaboration in practice, cultivated impact networks, frameworks for sustained partnership or collaboration across sectors, and other opportunities for ongoing relationship development among adaptation professionals from across sectors. Proposals should explore how and why collaborations lead to improved planning and networking outcomes, including how cross-disciplinary approaches can improve equity, diversity, and inclusion in the climate adaptation field.
Community-Led Adaptation Innovations
How might we intentionally address climate impacts by taking a ground-up approach? How might these lessons inform adaptation at all scales and levels of governance while centering the most climate-impacted communities?
Collective action is critical to developing climate-resilient communities. Communities best understand their own values and assets. Communities also have first-hand experience with both climate impacts and the historic and current marginalization and discrimination that has led to climate vulnerability. We are accepting proposals that highlight how Tribal and local communities are preparing for or respond to climate impacts and implementing transformative solutions from the ground up. We are particularly interested in proposals that showcase equitable and inclusive design and execution of innovative adaptation activities. Other communities can learn from these examples and state and federal entities can learn ways to support and reduce barriers for implementation.
Climate Trauma and Healing
How might we address climate grief, trauma, and anxiety and find hope in a rapidly changing world?
Climate change poses significant threats to the mental and emotional health of individuals and communities. People are suffering experienced or anticipated climate-related losses of important social, cultural, and ecological identities, features, and places. This session will focus on communication, planning, research, and policy related to identifying and addressing the psychological impacts of climate change. We are accepting proposals that identify individual and community health risks, and provide ideas for support. This can be related to supporting climate resilience practitioners, as well as individuals and communities experiencing climate impacts. Please specify in your proposal if any warnings must accompany the session description; for instance, if the discussion includes content related to trauma or other sensitive topics.
Climate Displacement, Managed Retreat, and Relocation
How might we improve and enhance considerations for all community members in adaptation and mitigation efforts as well as support the relocation of communities when it becomes absolutely necessary?
Climate change is playing a bigger role in determining where and how we live, and increasingly displacing individuals, families, and communities. The improvements made to communities to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate its causes may, in some cases, exacerbate existing social and economic inequities and lead to displacement, retreat, and relocation. In addition, natural and societal stressors linked to climate change are shifting the way we build, plan for, and live in our communities. This session will focus on information, knowledge, and wisdom that addresses climate-related displacement, retreat, and relocation as well as the roles individuals, communities, governments, and nongovernmental actors play in these events. We are accepting proposals that focus on displaced and receiving communities, barriers (e.g. institutional, geographic, economic, psychological, cultural, or social) to the movement of individuals and communities, the relocation or decommissioning of infrastructure, and mechanisms for enabling equitable, climate-informed retreat and relocation.
Intergenerational Collaboration and Leadership in Climate Adaptation
How can intergenerational collaboration build power and cohesion in the climate movement? How are youth and older adults relating to, communicating about, and leading on climate change adaptation?
For years, young people have been leading the world in climate activism, yet many young people struggle to be taken seriously and find their place in adaptation policy and practice. At the same time, older adults and elders are often only referenced because of their vulnerability to climate impacts, when in fact they have valuable experience, memories, and connections to contribute. What unique challenges do youth and older adults face in the adaptation field, and what new insights could intergenerational collaboration uncover? We are accepting proposals on youth, elder, or intergenerational climate activism and engagement in school and student networks, local communities, and national and global initiatives. We are particularly interested in presentations on the intergenerational power dynamics for climate adaptation, examples and strategies used to raise awareness and appreciation across generations, and reflections on how to adequately uplift, empower, and engage all ages in adaptation initiatives.
Ecological Transformation in a Changing Climate
How can we manage a landscape that is increasingly impacted by climate-driven disturbances?
Disturbance regimes such as fire, drought, and pest outbreaks have shaped ecosystems for millennia. Increases in the frequency and severity of various disturbances due to climate change, along with poor land management, are triggering ecosystem and community shifts leading to potential losses in biodiversity, ecosystem services, and cultural values. These shifts require ecosystem stewards, managers, and practitioners to reconsider whether technical and financial resources are best deployed for prevention, recovery, facilitation of ecological transformation, or simply acknowledging the impracticality of resisting the change and using resources where they can be most impactful. This session will focus on how ecosystem stewards are addressing ecological transformation in a changing climate, such as invasive species prevention, identifying and protecting refugia, and facilitating species transitions. We are accepting proposals that share observations of and responses to these types of ecological shifts in local, regional, and global contexts from ecosystem stewards and managers at all scales and levels of governance.
Monitoring and Evaluation of Adaptation Progress and Successes
How do we know if adaptation projects are effective and provide the intended benefits? How can we track progress and assess if we’ve been successful?
Monitoring and evaluation is a key step in every climate adaptation planning process, but is frequently underrepresented, not designed with adaptation in mind, or focused only on monetary benefits. This session creates intentional space for discussing project evolution and tracking progress and success in implementing adaptation measures. We are seeking proposals on the challenges and opportunities faced by adaptation practitioners in monitoring and evaluation, particularly with respect to setting intentional goals, learning from the landscapes that we work within, and applying lessons to adjust adaptation plans.
Art, Adaptation, and Community
How might we capture the power of art, music, poetry, adaptation, and community to spark transformative changes?
Art is – and has always been – a powerful vehicle for change and connection in social and environmental movements. It can help us move beyond the practical to connect to the human side of the climate crisis and can enhance our ability to create and foster a vision for a better future outside the confines of regulation and government processes. The arts also have deep roots in community-building and often reflect the unique and rich experiences communities face every day. We are seeking proposals on innovative ways that art, adaptation, and community can blend to tie community identities and perspectives to transformative solutions.
Challenging White Supremacist Adaptation Practices
How might we draw strength from one another to decentralize the white person’s experience and eradicate racism from our individual adaptation practice and the adaptation field?
Many climate adaptation practitioners are aware of the need to accelerate the weaving of a new narrative bridging climate action and anti-racism. The adaptation field was born in – and continues to develop among – communities plagued with policies and practices that center the white person’s experience. This session will investigate the intrinsic ties between the dismantling of white supremacy and adapting to climate change. We are accepting proposals that provide examples of individuals or groups that are challenging false binaries, denouncing language that masks (whether intentionally or unintentionally) racist approaches, and dismantling frameworks, concepts, and systems that keep the white person’s experience central to adaptation planning and implementation. This session will create a space for attendees to examine their own biases, unlearn harmful practices and notions, and get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Bridging the Urban-Rural-Natural Landscape Divide
How might we use cross-landscape thinking and decision-making to protect and enhance the resources that keep societies and natural systems working?
The inter-relationship between urban, rural, and natural systems is often not part of decision-making calculus. Cities rely on agricultural systems for food and natural systems for water, rural regions rely on markets in urban centers and ecosystem services from natural systems, and natural system health and functionality is affected by the decisions made in the other two systems. We are accepting proposals that share examples of cross-landscape thinking and decision-making to protect or enhance the resources that keep societies and natural systems working and celebrate and enhance their interconnectivity.
Adaptation Policy and Governance
How are federal, state, Tribal, territorial, and local governments employing policy solutions to drive adaptation success?
This session strives to broaden the discussion around policies at the federal, Tribal, state, and local level to advance equitable policies to ensure communities are ready for the impacts of climate change. We are accepting proposals that specifically address the American Society of Adaptation Professionals’ six policy priorities. Presenters should plan to address at least one of the policy priorities and at least one of the following questions:
- How well is the recent surge in funding from Congress being implemented and what lessons have we learned to inform future investments?
- What are the greatest barriers to adaptation and at what levels of governance? Are there structural reasons that create these barriers?
- How can we more effectively and equitably connect the dots between broad federal policy action/funding and the needs of climate-impacted communities?
- What are the policy roadblocks for equitable advancement of adaptation?
- What are the tools being used to develop adaptation strategies and how are these tools being applied to develop policy recommendations?
While this session will focus on policy development and implementation within the U.S., international examples, perspectives, and connections are welcome.