The Program Committee has created Special Sessions focused on particular adaptation topics of interest for the 5th National Adaptation Forum. Special Session Oral Presentations will be 15 minutes and proposals should respond directly to the required elements listed in each Special Session description. If your abstract is not chosen for the selected Special Session, it will be placed into the full pool of applications for oral presentations for further review. Each Special Session will be moderated and presenters can choose a traditional oral presentation or other format (e.g., spoken word, poetry, video). They include:

  • Climate Displacement, Managed Retreat, and Relocation
  • Climate Trauma and Healing
  • Growing Pains of Adaptation
  • Monitoring & Evaluation of Adaptation Progress and Successes
  • Ecological Transformation in a Changing Climate
  • Making Climate Science Usable and Useful
  • Bridging the Urban-Rural-Natural System Divide
  • Uncharted Waters: Using Uncommon Approaches in Adaptation
  • Adaptation in the Private Sector
  • Youth Empowerment and Leadership in Climate Adaptation
  • Finding the Signal Among the Noise: Strategic Use of Media in Climate Adaptation
  • Community-First Adaptation Innovations

Climate Displacement, Managed Retreat, and Relocation

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 strategies, tools, and research that address climate-related displacement, retreat, and relocation as well as the roles individuals, communities, governments, and nongovernmental actors play in these events. We are accepting abstracts for presentations focused on displaced and receiving communities, barriers (e.g., institutional, geographic, economic, psychological, cultural, social) to the movement of individuals and communities, and mechanisms for enabling equitable, climate-informed retreat and relocation.

Climate Trauma and Healing

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 abstracts for presentations on experiences, case studies, and tools identifying individual and community health risks, sharing opportunities for addressing climate anxiety, and finding hope in a rapidly changing world.

Growing Pains of Adaptation

Within the climate adaptation field, there is a broad desire to identify and share lessons learned and best practices. However, there is great value in creating a field-wide culture of sharing failures as well as successes in order to learn what works and what does not in adaptation practice. Identifying what led to failure (e.g., conflict between key partners) may help us develop strategies for avoiding those same problems in the future or even eliminating a particularly ineffective strategy from the portfolio of approaches. This session seeks to address the absence of failure reporting in climate adaptation by inviting presentations on case studies of projects and initiatives that have not worked, if and how problems were addressed, and what could have been—or is being—done differently.

Monitoring and Evaluation of Adaptation Progress and Successes

Monitoring and evaluation is a key step in every climate adaptation planning process, but is frequently underrepresented at the National Adaptation Forum. This session creates intentional space for the presentation and discussion of methods and tools for tracking both progress and success in implementing adaptation measures. We are seeking abstracts on the challenges and opportunities faced by adaptation practitioners in monitoring and evaluation, particularly with respect to defining clear desired outcomes, establishing specific indicators and metrics, tracking progress and success, and sharing results with key partners, stakeholders, and the public.

Ecological Transformation in a Changing Climate

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 are triggering ecosystem and community shifts—in some cases, causing full transformation of systems—leading to potential losses in biodiversity, ecosystem services, and cultural values. These shifts require managers and practitioners to reconsider whether technical and financial resources are best deployed for prevention, recovery, or facilitation of ecological transformation. This session will focus on the strategies and tools available to natural resource managers and practitioners to address ecological transformation in a changing climate, such as invasive weed prevention, identifying and protecting refugia, and facilitating transitions via assisted translocations. We are accepting abstracts for presentations that share observations of and responses to these types of ecological shifts throughout the United States from federal, tribal, state, and nongovernmental landowners and managers.

Making Climate Science Usable and Useful

Making climate-informed decisions requires access to relevant, credible, and legitimate climate information. Access includes the ability to identify, obtain, understand, and apply climate science in decision-making. This session will focus on the variety of tools, technologies, and approaches to climate data translation and how they are most effectively being used. We are accepting abstracts for presentations with a particular focus on co-produced climate science and its delivery, as well as tools that have been evaluated for their efficacy and use in perpetuity.

Bridging the Urban-Rural-Natural System Divide

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. Presentations in this session will share examples of cross-landscape thinking to protect the resources that keep societies and natural systems working. We are accepting abstracts for presentations that share examples that cross two or all three of these systems.

Uncharted Waters: Using Uncommon Approaches in Adaptation

Climate change poses unique and unprecedented challenges to human and natural systems, requiring creative and innovative adaptation approaches. We are accepting abstracts for presentations focused on case studies or projects that are testing out unusual or out-of-the-box approaches to adaptation, including applying methodologies or tools that are not typically used, pursuing novel funding sources, or establishing unexpected partnerships to solve a particularly challenging problem.

Adaptation in the Private Sector

Climate change poses considerable risk to the private sector, including affecting direct operations, supply chains, employees, and customers. In response to these risks, companies are employing adaptation strategies ranging from planning and de-risking processes to investing in technology or engineered solutions to ecosystem-based adaptation approaches (e.g., sustainable forest management, watershed protection and restoration). This session will focus on the ways in which the private sector is characterizing risk and adequately preparing for its impacts. We are accepting abstracts for presentations that share examples of how companies are assessing the magnitude and implications of climate change and developing and implementing adaptation actions to reduce risks. We are especially interested in examples where companies have invested in ecosystem-based adaptation approaches. 

Youth Empowerment and Leadership in Climate Adaptation

How are youth relating to, communicating about, and leading on climate change adaptation? For years, youth have been at the forefront of activism from the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins to the Parkland, Florida student-led gun safety movement. We are accepting abstracts for presentations on youth 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 of climate change, raising awareness and appreciation across generations, and how to adequately uplift, empower, and engage youth in adaptation initiatives.

Finding the Signal Among the Noise: Strategic Use of Media in Climate Adaptation

Mass media—whether television, Internet, radio, newspapers, or magazines—helps to shape public perceptions and attitudes on a range of issues, including climate change and adaptation. Political and corporate interests have engaged in various efforts to influence news production and media coverage of climate change, leading to confusion, mistrust, and in some cases decision paralysis. We are accepting presentations on how media messages can complicate climate change adaptation efforts and ways to strategically build alliances with trusted sources to increase individual and community resilience and buy-in to adaptation efforts.

Community-Led Adaptation Innovations

Collective community action is critical to taking action on climate change, particularly as higher levels of government become disengaged from providing support. There are several examples of how tribal and local communities have pulled together in response to events such as wildfires and hurricanes to implement transformative solutions. These communities and initiatives serve as working models for other local communities as well as state and federal entities. We are accepting abstracts for examples of ways in which communities have intentionally addressed a climate or weather event by taking a unique approach rather than continuing business-as-usual, and how these initiatives could be scaled to other communities and states.