‘European Development Days’ in Brussels includes brainstorm on climate-risk assessments

‘European Development Days’ in Brussels  includes brainstorm on climate-risk assessments
27 November 2013
On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, this year’s European Development Days (EDD13) gathered thousands of leaders, experts and practitioners from international organizations, civil society and the worlds of business and politics to “shape a new development agenda” to eradicate poverty and promote sustainable development.
Organized by the European Commission, the two-day EDD13 event draws an estimated 5000 people with a direct interest in development from all over the world, who meet in plenum or one of seven labs for “thought-provoking debates, exchanges of best practices, networking and brainstorming,” according to the event website.
EDD13 featured a prominent IFRC presence, including Secretary General Bekele Geleta who took part in a high-level panel in his capacity as a member of the UNAIDS and Lancet Commission: Defeating AIDS – Advancing Global Health. 
Matthias Schmale, IFRC Under Secretary General for National Society and Knowledge Development, participated in a round-table session on “volunteering for development”, organized by VSO International and the European Volunteer Centre.
Growing uncertainties
On Tuesday, the Climate Centre and the Brussels-based Red Cross EU Office convened a session in Lab 4 on climate-risk assessments, focusing on “how to link information to decisions, in practice and policy”.
Climate-risk assessments now face two key challenges, it argued: how to ensure that they result in better decisions, especially in the context of multiple drivers of disaster and growing uncertainties on all timescales, and how to scale-up and move from pilot studies to large-scale application.
A presentation by Dr Thorsten Klose, Senior Adviser for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation at the German Red Cross Red Cross, illustrated how an innovative fund, recently rolled out in Africa, linked with seasonal forecasts of extremes like floods and droughts enabled response to potential, not just actual, disasters – helping to mitigate them in advance. 
Jane Madgwick, Chief Executive Officer of Wetlands International, one of the lead agencies in the Partners for Resilience alliance, demonstrated how partnerships created at village level have brought significant benefits in the short term, and may be able to influence public policy in the long term – a model she said was “catching the interest of a wide range of investors and policymakers”.
‘Flexible financing’
A presentation from the Austrian Red Cross drew lessons from the Climate Forum East project and the South-East European Forum on Climate Change Adaptation, to focus on local capacity building, citing the example of Croatia’s national heatwave plan – created to support vulnerable people, particularly the elderly.
Lab 4 participants were then confronted with simulated decisions under rising uncertainty in the decision-making game Decisions for the decade.
Summarizing key conclusions from the subsequent brainstorm, Dr Maarten van Aalst, the Climate Centre’s Director, said: “Facing rising risks and uncertainty in a changing climate, we need to invest in better dialogues to bridge science and practice, and make risk information more user-friendly. 
“Good practices could be shared more effectively, and in the end risk information needs to become part of standard operating procedures, coupled with more flexible financing, so that we can systematically anticipate risk and act on that information.”
A ‘mind-map’ of the EDD13 Lab 4 session on upscaling climate risk assessment Tuesday. (Photo: EU)