IHCantabria hosted the “BEACON” International Symposium on Adaptation to Climate Change in the Coastal Built Environment

by | 23 Jun, 2023 | Coastal Management and Engineering, General News | 0 comments

With more than 40 presentations, this event brought together scientists, academics and professionals from different countries in Santander to exchange knowledge and stimulate multidisciplinary and multisectoral interaction.

This symposium took place on June 19 and 20 in Santander and allowed to know several results of the project “Built Environment Learning for Climate Adaptation” (BEACON), whose development has been carried out during the last three years, with funding from the Erasmus + program of the European Commission.

It was organized by the Environmental Hydraulics Institute of the Universidad de Cantabria (IHCantabria), with the collaboration of other members of the consortium: the University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom; the University of Lund, Sweden; the University of Malta, Malta; the University of Moratuwa and the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Adaptation to climate change in the coastal built environment requires addressing not only physical and environmental needs, but also socio-cultural, institutional, human capital and economic perspectives. This is why it is so important to analyze the issue from a multidisciplinary approach, to promote the participation of institutions and citizens in taking timely and efficient measures and actions to avoid the adverse effects of climate change.

For this reason, the symposium presentations focused on the following topics: 1) the governance framework for climate change adaptation in the built environment, 2) adaptation to climate change in the built environment and land use planning, 3) communicating climate change adaptation, and 4) educating about climate change.

In addition to bringing together leading scientists, experts and practitioners specialized in these areas of study, this event provided an opportunity to explore innovative research, policies and practices. The symposium included two keynote lectures and a panel discussion on the challenges for adaptation to climate change on the Spanish coast, at the national, regional and local levels, with the participation of leading academics, professionals and government officials.

In this plenary “we not only talked about challenges, needs and problems, but also about solutions, initiatives and good practices; about alternatives to face the challenges posed by adaptation to climate change in the coastal environment”, said María Merino González-Pardo, researcher at IHCantabria who was a member of the Organizing Committee of the BEACON International Symposium, together with the researcher Ignacio Aguirre Ayerbe and Laura Pérez García. Other members of the Organizing Committee for this event were Professors Richard Haigh and Dilanthi Amaratunga of the University of Huddersfield, UK, and Nishara Fernando, Professor at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

This symposium provided an ideal setting to promote “discussion, exchange and transfer of knowledge among researchers, technologists, land use planners, professionals and day-to-day decision makers on coastal zone management, considering both climatic and coastal complexities, as well as socioeconomic and cultural factors,” as Ignacio Aguirre announced in his opening speech.

The holding of this symposium not only met expectations, but also paved the way for the development of new cooperation, research and scientific knowledge transfer projects. According to Nishara Fernando, this symposium was able to demonstrate how necessary it is to transmit knowledge on climate change adaptation from various disciplines and was a great opportunity for networking. He said that one of the main results of the BEACON project will be the creation of a MOOC course, based on the information generated throughout the project.

One of the priorities of the project is the communication of its results to key industry players, decision makers and people living in coastal areas, according to Richard Haigh. It therefore considers it important to support citizen science initiatives and educational proposals on climate change adaptation. These recommendations were included in the presentations of several speakers, such as Giulia Melis from Italy, who analyzed the governance framework, strategies and actions that should be considered to address the consequences of climate change in coastal sites that are recognized as natural or cultural World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Like the other attendees, Melis expressed his satisfaction at having participated in the BEACON International Symposium, which highlighted the importance of understanding and assessing, from multidisciplinary perspectives, the impacts of climate change and the existing capacities to develop tangible adaptation measures, especially in the coastal built environment.