The first Southwest Adaptation Forum was held at the University of Arizona from October 29-31 in the Environment and Natural Resources 2 Building. Attended by over 100 people from across the interior Southwest states (primarily Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Colorado), this workshop was held in association with the National Adaptation Forum. Hosted by the Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center and the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions in the Institute of the Environment, the goal was to gather climate adaptation and assessment practitioners to exchange best practices and build a network dedicated to integrated, community-based climate adaptation. Sessions were focused on the state of adaptation practices within tribal lands and communities in our region, as well as assessment of adaptation efforts in the built environment, health, working lands, and at the wildland-urban interface.
Keynote speakers include Susi Moser, a nationally and internationally known adaptation expert, and Richard Moss, who is currently leading an effort to build a civil-society based climate assessment consortium. Both gave inspirational talks and emphasized the urgency of moving quickly to scale up adaptation efforts to address rapidly escalating challenges in both human and natural systems. Although heat, drought and wildfire were commonly cited concerns, the focus was largely on the need to work together to solve complex issues at the interface between science and society and filling gaps in leadership and resources to address these problems. Though there are a lot of small adaptation efforts across the landscape, they need to be much better coordinated and much more impactful if we are to be more resilient to what lies ahead. There was a very clear message that Tribal representatives want to be part of this conversation. Engaging youth, increasing outreach activities, and encouraging an escalation of action on the ground were common themes.
At the workshop’s close, those in attendance agreed that they had strengthened existing and built new relationships; identified important gaps in our networks; generated synergy and momentum for future engagement; and positioned our emergent network to take tangible action!