Leading scientists, practitioners and policy makers from Australia and abroad will meet on the Gold Coast this week for the Climate Adaptation 2014: Future Challenges annual conference.

To be held at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre from September 30 to October 2, Future Challenges will showcase the growing body of knowledge on international climate change adaptation and examine how it is influencing planning and policy within communities, government, business and industry.

The conference comes just days after a report by Australia’s Climate Council warned the Gold Coast could lose its beaches by the end of the century if the impact of climate change and coastal flooding is not addressed. The report also noted the vulnerability of much of Australia’s coastline.

Organised by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) at Griffith University, and the CSIRO, key discussion topics at the event will be:

– What are we adapting to? The latest climate change science;

– Now versus later — timing of decision making for climate change;

– The science of the business of climate change;

– Down the line — impacts on the food and beverage value chains;

– Delivering — moving from planning to doing;

– Who is affected most — what does adapting mean for vulnerable communities;

Three factory smokestacksDirector of NCCARF, Professor Jean Palutikof, says adaptation is about acknowledging climate change and working to minimise its impact on the natural, built and social environment.

Examples of adaptation include changing crop locations and types to prepare for altered weather patterns; strengthening design codes for infrastructureto withstand greater heat, storms andflooding; training health professionals and locatinghealth services to cope with increased heat stress events and changes in patterns of disease; and developing emergency services to cope with expected increases in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters.

“Climate change adaptation is vital for the future and Australia’s research in this field is already recognised as world class,” says Professor Palutikof, who will co-host the event with the CSIRO’s Science Director, Dr Mark Stafford Smith.

“However, with the precise level of impact so difficult to pinpoint, successful adaptation requires individuals, groups and societies to build resilience to cope with uncertainty.

“To that end, the conference has drawn participants from many sectors — social, health, environmental, economic, agriculture, tourism, utilities and infrastructure — and will allow sharing of the latest approaches, case studies, practical examples, methods and results to improve our capacity to adapt and prepare for climate change.”

For more information, go to http://www.nccarf.edu.au/conference2014/