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Conference “Are we ready for the heat” at Palau Macaya (Caixaforum Macaya), Barcelona. From left to right: Judit Alonso, Carol Chouchani Cherfane, Elen Lemaître-Curri and Jaume Lanaspa. Source: Judit Rauet
…given all the evidence and data showing how vulnerable nations are to climate change, inaction may be seen as a reckless act that should be punished.Jaume Lanaspa, President of the Barcelona Office of the Club of Rome
The conference “Are we ready for the heat? Exploring Climate Adaptation Needs in the Mediterranean” was the opening session of the third edition of Med-Dialogues +2030, organised by the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMED) and the Club of Rome. Jaume Lanaspa, President of the Barcelona Office of the Club of Rome, explained that this new edition of the conferences aims to raise awareness of the urgent need for Mediterranean countries to adapt to the effects of climate change. Given all the evidence and data showing how vulnerable nations are to climate change, he emphasised in his message that inaction may be seen as a reckless act that should be punished. Senen Florensa, Executive President of IEMED, reiterated that this summer’s events, such as droughts and floods throughout the Mediterranean, have shown the urgency of acting towards adaptation. He continued by saying that one of the goals of this series of conferences is to create a forum for talking about climate vulnerability, how it affects various industries, and how to move closer to fulfilling the 17 SDGs and the 2030 Agenda.
The moderator, Judit Alonso, a journalist specialising in environmental issues, introduced the two speakers: Elen Lemaître-Curri, agronomist, hydraulic and forestry engineer, and PhD in public policy. Since 2020, she has been working at the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies Montpellier (CIHEAM Montpellier). And Carol Chouchani Cherfane, Director of the Arab Centre for Climate Change Policies (ACCCP) and Head of the Climate Change and Natural Resource Sustainability Cluster in Beirut of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).
Lemaître-Curri began by illustrating the scale of the region’s climate change challenges. From the current flames in Greece to the droughts in Spain, this summer’s various meteorological catastrophes have all served as evidence that the climate is already changing. Citing data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), she said that the Mediterranean region is warming 20% faster and has scarce water resources (3% of the world’s 7% freshwater). These changes have an impact on ecosystems. For example, the region is expected to experience a significant increase in arid areas, particularly in Spain and Morocco. These changes in the ecosystem will have an impact on different systems: agriculture, food, health, etc. By showing this chain reaction, Elen emphasises that the changes are so rapid that our systems are already adapting. In this line, the question is not whether we have to adapt or not, but how. In this context, other questions that Elen raised were: are we transforming correctly? And who will benefit from these new systems?
The focus of Chouchani ‘s presentation was on the relationship between the expected climate changes and political decisions. With some figures, she explained that special attention must be paid to the southern Mediterranean region, where the average temperature is usually higher. She showed how during this summer some southern countries experienced a record high temperature, but also how others (Morocco, Tunisia) had a high percentage of change compared to the data from 1990-2020 to 2023. In this sense, she emphasised the importance of looking at the region beyond its borders, as it is important to assess each microclimate in order to make policies. She then reviewed different scenarios regarding heat, precipitation and the number and frequency of floods. She noted that it is critical to consider not only the countries’ exposure to such catastrophes but also their capacity to react to and adapt to them, along with the importance of climate funding. Adaptation needs finance, and the region’s needs are not being met.