Over 800 climate change adaptation leaders from across California, the U.S and other countries, came together for the 1st California Adaptation Forum, held August 19-20, 2014, in Sacramento, CA. The Local Government Commission, in partnership with the State of California organized this inaugural event to serve as a gathering place for key decision-makers from across the state to share information, discuss local activities and needs, identify new resources, and develop a statewide network of adaptation practitioners. The forum featured 55 plenaries, breakout sessions, networking activities, tours and workshops that provided insight about some of the newest, most forward thinking adaptation topics. Highlights from the 1st Statewide California Adaptation Forum include:
The kick-off plenary “Making History: Beginning A New Era in Climate Change” featured Ken Alex, Senior Advisor to Governor Jerry Brown; Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board; Ken Pimlott, Director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection; and Frances Spivy-Weber, Vice Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board. Speakers discussed current and future challenges of climate change and how Californians are responding and becoming more resilient.
Tuesday’s full-day California Tools Salon featured tools and resources created by the State of California and partners to support the analysis of greenhouse gas emissions and climate-change impacts at the state, regional and local levels. Participants who attended this salon learned about how these tools and resources could apply to their work. Tools highlighted throughout the salon covered topics such as sea-level rise, scenario planning, urban forestry, wildfire, extreme heat, greenhouse gas reduction, enterprise data systems, hazard mitigation, and more!
Art@CAF featured art in varied forms, presented throughout the forum, in the hallways and at the Tuesday night reception. On Tuesday afternoon, Sacramento Public Library led interactive climate change storytelling in the Ballroom Foyer, attended by youth from Crocker Art Museum and Powerhouse Science Center who had created artwork featured at the forum.
Three successful tours were held in conjunction with the forum. The tours offered forum participants a chance to experience firsthand some of the exciting things happening around Sacramento in the adaptation field. Participants headed to the Sacramento Delta to see some creative endeavors that are underway to reduce risks that threaten California’s water supply. Others went on “Farm-to-Fork-to-Fuel: A Regional Resilience Strategy” and visited a local farm-to-fork restaurant and Sacramento’s biorefinery and biodigester. The last of the tours, “Folsom Dam and Reservoir: A Behind-the-scenes tour of a Pioneering “Climate-Aware” Water and Flood Management Effort,” led participants on a behind-the-scenes tour of Folsom Dam and the Auxiliary Spillway project to learn about the role of the dam in helping the Sacramento region adapt to a changing climate by managing two critical vulnerabilities – flooding and drought.
The Tuesday Lunch Leadership Roundtable “Changing the Business Climate for Climate Change” featured John Makower, Chairman and Executive Director of GreenBiz Group, Inc.; Christopher Benjamin, Director of Corporate Sustainability at PG&E; Kathy Gerwig, Vice President of Employee Safety, Health and Wellness, and Environmental Stewardship at Kaiser Permanente; and Stephanie Rico, Vice President of Environmental Affairs at Wells Fargo and Company. Speakers discussed how companies are addressing resiliency in the face of climate change.
The Tuesday evening forum reception, which featured immersive climate change artwork installations, was a great place for forum participants to relax and network. After the reception some forum participants headed to de Vere’s Irish Pub for Pub Trivia Night to compete for a number of prizes answering climate change- and adaptation-related trivia questions.
On Wednesday morning, forum participants were invited to participate in one of several informal networking opportunities. Participants networked with the American Society of Adaptation Professionals, the Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation, the Local Government Sustainable Energy Coalition, and EcoAdapt’s Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange.
The morning plenary featured Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal; Rick Cole, City of Los Angeles Deputy Mayor for Budget and Innovation; Nicola Hedge, Director of Climate Initiative at the San Diego Foundation and Vice Chair of the Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation; Alice Hill, Senior Advisor for Preparedness and Resilience to the President’s Assistant for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism at the White House National Security Council; and Secretary John Laird of the California Natural Resources Agency. Speakers discussed how to take action and forge new partnerships to achieve comprehensive solutions to climate change.
Participation via social media was another forum highlight. Hundreds of people tweeted about the tours, the special features, the sessions they were attending, and the people they were connecting with! All conference tweets were shown in real-time on Twitterfalls located in high-traffic areas during the event.
The final plenary of the forum featured Wade Crowfoot, Deputy Cabinet Secretary and Senior Advisor to California Governor Edmund Brown, and R. Rex Parris, Mayor of the City of Lancaster. These two leaders inspired forum participants with their stories of walking the talk. Mayor Parris explained how his vision for Lancaster to become one of the first net-zero communities by 2020 has transformed the city, while Wade Crowfoot shared the state’s vision and the role of political leadership, strategic partnerships, and perseverance to achieve a more resilient California.