Experts meet to focus on climate change impacts along California coastline
WNN Earth Watch – United States
(WNN) LOS ANGELES, California, U.S.: How is your city preparing to deal with the impacts of climate change? That is the question being framed at a gathering of decision-makers, thought leaders and academics for a three day conference called: The Mediterranean City 2012 : A Conference on Climate Change Adaptation, where leaders from five Mediterranean regions of the world will come together in Los Angeles to focus specifically on how to reduce the vulnerability of natural and human systems that effect climate change.
The June 25-27 conference will focus on raising the volume for discussion between cities who are now working together to solve our uncertain future under climate change.
“Our climate is changing and so it is more important than ever that cities work together around this common cause,” said Dr. Nancy Steele, executive director of Council for Watershed Health (CWH), an agency that works closely with water conservation, ecology and watershed protection programs covering over 1500 square miles in Southern California (U.S.) . “By coming together, conference participants will share resources and knowledge across regional and national boundaries to build effective solutions. We are excited to host this first ever convening of all the Mediterranean-climate regions around the world,” added Steele.
Cities of the Future author Paul Brown will be the keynote speaker at the conference. Other invited speakers include: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, United State Representative Lois Capps, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Yarqon River Authority (Israel) Executive Director David Pargament, Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick, and many more.
During this time, small working groups of invited scientists, planners, engineers, resource managers, and policy makers will work collaboratively toward sharing solutions and suggest collaborative steps forward. On June 27, the conference will welcome the general public to attend and hear presentations in expert findings and ideas for the future.
Known for its mild climate and temperatures, the west coast region of the U.S. State of California, known also as the ‘Mediterranean Californian ecoregion,’ covers the coastal area from the California-Oregon border in the north to the tip of the Baja California Norte near the Mexican border in the south. With a warm and ‘Mediterranean-like’ climate it’s land that is a mix of mountains, plains and plateaus. The region is known for its hot-dry summers and mild winters, but climate change is beginning to make impacts in changing the region.
Themes for the conference cover a wide range of conservation and environmental topics that will include:
The Built Environment: Designing Healthier Communities
In the face of rapid development and population growth, cities are under increasing threat of loss of functionality and ability to meet the needs to their residents. By redefining the built environment to require or incentivize green building design, ecologically-functional streets, transit-oriented communities, and open spaces, cities can become more resilient to the impacts of climate change. By becoming more compact, for example, cities can promote the preservation of regionally-unique habitats while also combating urban sprawl. Smart building and landscape designs can also effectively reduce the energy footprint of buildings while contributing to the overall energy portfolio of cities.
Energy: Transitioning to an Energy Efficient and Low Carbon Future
With a natural supply of abundant solar energy and the potential for tidal and off-shore wind and wave-to-energy power, the Mediterranean climate zones have great potential to harness renewable energy supplies. However, as urban populations in Mediterranean Cities continue to grow, renewable resource demand may outstrip renewable resource availability. Needs and costs of production must be better understood and affordable to move forward in producing green energy.
Water: Resilient Water Management Strategies for a Changing Climate
Water is among the most basic of human needs and is necessary for economic vitality and food security. In the Mediterranean City, water is harnessed for consumption, industry, and waste management, while flood control systems seek to move water away from cities as efficiently as possible. Degradation of water quality occurs from urban practice and single purpose policy. As water scarcity increases with climate change, and as demand continues to outpace sustainable supplies, human and natural communities of the City and of the water-supply-shed are threatened at the most basic levels.
Biodiversity and Open Space: Building an Ecological City
Mediterranean ecosystems have nutrient−poor soils and are seasonally climate−limited, yet have evolved species−rich ecosystems with a great deal of endemism. Healthy ecosystems provide nature’s services to urban centers, cleaning air and water; providing spaces of beauty to refresh the soul and encourage recreation; producing food, fiber, and fuel; and mitigating natural disasters (e.g., drought and flood) while cleaning of polluted urban runoff.
Public Health: Preparing People for Their Future
A healthy ecosystem – dependent on clean air and water, natural hydrogeologic processes, and biological diversity – nurtures a healthy human population, which in turn must respect and tend those resources through conservation. Human systems too must reorient towards healthier outcomes for natural and human populations through changed practices in sanitation, food provisioning, and ecosystem services management. Planning for greener cities that conserve these Mediterranean resources will also provide avenues for improving public health.
Governance: Rethinking Boundaries
Cities are now the engines of the world economy and social structure and must, therefore, work as a network across sectors and national boundaries to bring more resources and knowledge to building solutions. To bring resiliency to the city and to the network of information sharing, new forms of governance and public-private partnerships must be examined for their efficacy in supporting an open exchange and transfer of ideas and technology.
Founded in 1996 by leading environmental activist Dorothy Green and others, the Council for Watershed Health (CWH) produces continuing research programs that examine water usage and quality as well as create and enhance preservation and conservation tactics.
The Mediterranean City 2012: Conference on Climate Change Adaptation is being organized through the CWH along with support from government and non-governmental organizations like the U.S. Department of Energy, The Nature Conservancy, the City of Los Angeles, California (U.S.), UCLA – University of California Los Angeles, the Long Beach Water Department, and more.
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