Reimagining Climate Adaptation Summit

Image by Karsten Würth, via Unsplash
Monday 19 - Thursday 22 April 2021
10.00am - 3.45pm

Online (Zoom)


Future Earth Australia
Institute for Culture and Society

The Reimagining Climate Adaptation Summit from 19-22 April 2021 will discuss Australia’s need for an evidence-based policy response to the range of emerging threats posed by environmental change.

Future Earth Australia, in partnership with the Sydney Environment Institute (University of Sydney) and the Institute for Culture and Society (Western Sydney University), is bringing experts from research, business, practice, decision making and communities together to look forward and set out a clear agenda for climate adaptation as we reduce our emissions. Adaptation and resilience must be undertaken with respect to enabling a just transition to climate sustainability for all Australians.

The Summit will be hosted in an interactive webinar format via Zoom. We welcome you to bring questions for the speakers and panels through the Q&A function. Register your interest here.

View Program

Day 1 – Knowledge Perspectives Across Oceania | Monday 19 April 2021

The Sydney Environment Institute will be hosting Day 1 of the Summit.

Traditional Western approaches to major social, technological and policy change are typically dominated by formal, disciplinary and professional knowledge, guided through formal policy and political processes. While necessary, such a pathway is clearly insufficient for transformative adaptation, where impacts, responsibilities and the capacity and need to action change is distributed widely across societies.

Day 1 opens the urgent issue of transformative adaptation to climate change to a wider array of critically important knowledge systems and how these can be encouraged and deployed for positive adaptation, with particular emphasis on the deep knowledge and capabilities of First Nations people in Australia and across Oceania.


Bruce Pascoe, Author of Dark Emu and Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanian man

Professor Jakelin Troy, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Portfolio

Dr Chels Marshall, Gumbaynggirr woman and Knowledge Keeper, Indigenous systems ecologist

Dr Anne Poelina, Nyikina Traditional Custodian, Notre Dame University and Northern Australia Institute Charles Darwin University

Dr Meg Parsons, University of Auckland

Professor Lauren Rickards, RMIT University

Dr Tammy Tabe, University of the South Pacific

Dr Georgina Woods, Environmental Poet and Activist


Day 2 – Enabling Action

Future Earth Australia will be hosting Day 2 of the Summit.

As the impacts of climate change become experientially clearer, the investment needed to adapt to what we are too late to avoid is growing rapidly.  Mobilising public and private action to this end is urgent, and not always easy to do within conventional models of risk assessment and responsibilities.

Day 2 explores how the private sector is becoming more aware of the risks its faces, through reporting requirements that then drive the need to respond to reputational and legal risks which may be nearer-term than actual physical risks, even though these are also being experienced with increasing frequency.  Whilst existing corporate responsibilities and shareholder pressure can facilitate this increase in adaptation investment, government has a key leadership role to play also, both in setting standards and acting on its own risks. How should this public-private balance be managed to achieve the best outcomes, and how can the total quantum of investment in adaptation be accelerated?  What do these sectors require of the research community to make their actions more effective?


Dr Marcelo Mena Carrasco, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso and the Chile Office of the Global Center on Adaptation

Kate Mackenzie, Centre for Policy Development

Katie Eberle, Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

Adrian Turner, Minderoo Foundation Fire & Flood Resilience Initiative

Crystal Fleming, Investor Group on Climate Change

Chris Croker, Impact Investment Partners

Dorean Erhart, Local Government Association of Queensland

Dr Ian Fry, Australian National University


Day 3 – Imagining Thriving Futures

The Institute for Culture and Society will be hosting Day 3 of the Summit.

Climate adaptation and resilience requires a strong focus on social and cultural practices and a diversity of modes of knowledge are necessary to create effective adaptation pathways. This also entails allowing for diverse practices that can imagine hopeful, caring and just futures in response to the challenges posed by climate change adaptation. Addressing this challenge requires a systems approach but systems language and thinking don’t resonate easily with decision-makers faced with a complex interaction of impacts and trade-offs.

There is already a foundation and capacity across our communities and sectors to adapt proactively, and the Day 3 discussions will explore how to fully utilise this capacity and overcome barriers to implementation and action. Achieving adaptation at scale requires a good balance between bottom-up place-based actions with strong community involvement and top-down policy decisions that facilitate effective action. Discussions will examine the transitions and transformations needed for effective adaptation in a context where the benefits of longer-term planning decisions have to be argued in an economic paradigm driven by short-term outcomes and discounting of the future.


Professor Jean Palutikof, Griffith University

Joe Morrison, Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation

Dr Russ Wise, CSIRO

David Tucker, Infrastructure Australia

Professor Lesley Head, University of Melbourne

Scott Hickman, Mid-Lachlan Landcare

Hillary Montague, Australian Youth Climate Coalition

Declan Clausen, City of Newcastle

Mark Greenhill OAM, City of the Blue Mountains