The Oslo Extreme Dialogue on Climate Extremes – Building Bridges to the Future took place June 18, 2013, in connection with the International Conference on “Transformation in a Changing Climate” 19-21 June, 2013, University of Oslo, Norway.
The dialogue was moderated by Nisha Pillai and dialogue participants included: Ravid Goldschmidt, Musician, Hang player, Spain; Ole Petter Ottersen, Rector, University of Oslo, Norway; Arvinn Gadgil, former State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway; Nnimmo Bassey, Friends of the Earth International and Environmental Rights Action, Nigeria; Mehjabeen Abidi-Habib, Government College University Lahore, Pakistan; Madeleen Helmer, Red Cross Climate Centre, the Netherlands; Idar Kreutzer, Finance Norway, Norway; Cathrine Moestue, Moestue Consulting, Norway; Susanne Moser, Susanne Moser Research & Consulting, USA; and Haavard Stensvand, County Governor of Sogn og Fjordane, Norway.
Why an Extreme Dialogue?
This Extreme Dialogue aimed to alert the media and mobilize key decision-makers and the public at large to take action in response to changes in climate variability and extreme events. The dialogue built upon some of the key messages presented in the IPCC Special Report on “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” (SREX). The report emphasizes that climate change is influencing extreme events such as drought, floods, and heat waves in many parts of the world, and highlights the disproportionate vulnerability of certain areas, communities, regions, sectors and social groups to climate change. It also shows that risks can be reduced by policies and actions of governments, NGOs and civil society working at international, national and local levels.
Differing perspectives on disaster risk management and climate change adaptation can create obstacles to effective action. As discussed in the SREX, these are often related to differing perceptions of risk, tradeoffs between short-term and long-term goals, competing priorities and values, and different visions for the future. The obstacles need not, however, be fixed barriers to responses. They can be used to reach new understandings regarding the next steps to take for disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, improved development trajectories and transformative processes towards equitable and sustainable societies.
It must furthermore be recognized that framings serve a critical function in allocating responsibility for taking action. If climate change is framed as a scientific concern, many lay people do not feel directly implicated. If it is framed as a matter of technological innovation, researchers and engineers tend to be viewed as the primary actors. The imagery, language, messengers, and stories used in different framings can underscore or detract from an individual’s sense of responsibility and motivation for action. Individuals tend to be more effectively engaged emotionally by positive messages, while appealing to fear has been found to be largely counterproductive. Also, climate change has traditionally been framed as an environmental or political problem. Alternative frames, such as those that connect to here-and-now concerns such as extreme weather events or the economy, may prove more effective in engaging audiences than the frames that currently tend to dominate the public discourse.
The Oslo Extreme Dialogue represented a transformative approach to the challenges of managing the risks associated with changes in climate extremes. Drawing upon a diversity of disciplines and viewpoints, the dialogue aimed to move forward our collective thinking, influence decision-makers to respond to changing climate extremes and build constituencies of demand–an informed public able to perceive the real risks.
The Oslo Extreme Dialogue was hosted by the University of Oslo and funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Environment Agency.
Watch a short dialogue clip:
Watch the full dialogue:
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