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Countdown to the first Belgian Science for Climate Action Conference

Next Monday and Tuesday (19 and 20 February), Brussels will host the first edition of the Belgian Science for Climate Action conference, organised by the Belgian Climate Centre. For two full days, scientists, academics, decision makers and private sector representatives will discuss climate extremes and their causes and consequences. It is the first time an event of this scale will be organised in Belgium. A total of about 400 participants are expected.

Causes and consequences of climate extremes


Climate extremes, such as severe droughts, heat waves and heavy rainfall, can have profound impacts on society and ecosystems. Climate change is expected to increase both the frequency and intensity of climate extremes and there is an urgent need to understand their causes, risks, and consequences. Such events have significant impacts on society and ecosystems. To better anticipate these events, both policymakers and the private sector increasingly need actionable and applicable climate science and knowledge transfer. This includes strategic planning for climate risk assessments, disaster risk management and adaptation.


What steps can we take to improve our scientific understanding around climate extremes, their causes and consequences? What actions should we take to try to avoid them, and prepare for potentially more intense and frequent events in the future? The first edition of the Belgian Science for Climate Action conference aims to reflect on these questions, and give a better idea of the richness and diversity of Belgian climate research. Over two days, participants will engage with researchers, scientists, corporate actors and political stakeholders during workshops, debates, and scientific sessions.


A snapshot of the programme


What exactly will this two-day conference be about? Who are the speakers and what are the topics? Let's briefly touch upon the content of the conference through some concrete examples of sessions:


  • Warning systems and risk communication: lessons learned from 2021 floods

During this session, Professor Catherine Fallon (Universé de Liège), together with the other panellists (including Antoine Iseux from the National Crisis Centre and Valérie Dejardin, mayor of the municipality of Limbourg), will look back on the disastrous rainfall that hit parts of Wallonia in the summer of 2021. What has happened since then to put in place better warning systems and crisis communication in case further climate extremes occur in the future?


  • Physical and mental health impacts of climate change

Climate extremes affect human health in many ways. They undermine the health system and increase the risk of infectious diseases and premature deaths. This session, chaired by Professor Ann Desmet (Université Libre de Bruxelles), presents different perspectives on the current state of scientific knowledge on how climate change and extremes affect both physical and mental health.


  • Cities and climate extremes

Cities are both vulnerable to climate extremes and major sources of emissions. The session, with Dr Rafiq Hamdi of the Royal Meteorological Institute as chair, will provide insights into how cities can be climate-proofed, and the challenges cities face in a warmer world. And during the plenary session on Day 1, architect and Professor in Practice at Harvard University Bas Smets will explain how he and his design studio are exploring new ways to transform the urban environment into cooling microclimates to combat climate change.


  • Sand / Encore 1Été art performance

How do artists deal with climate change and its impact in our modern world. Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker drew on a visionary 150-year-old text by George Sand, who painfully accurately predicted the reality of climate change. Dancers from Rosas bring a poetic interpretation of Sand's text to the stage of this climate conference.


Belgian Climate Centre


It is the first time that an event of this scale is being organised in our country on this topic. All scientific disciplines and all actors of climate transition will be involved. It is being organised by the Belgian Climate Centre.

The Climate Centre was established in late 2022 with the mission to maximise the impact of science on climate mitigation and adaptation in Belgium, in support of an efficient and socially just transition to a climate neutral and resilient society. The Climate Centre coordinates strategic interdisciplinary climate research in Belgium and facilitates the transfer of knowledge to public and private sector decision-makers.

One year after its establishment, the organisation of this conference is a logical link in achieving those goals. Thomas Dermine, Secretary of State for Relance and Strategic Investments, in charge of Science Policy: "Belgium has world-class research centres working on climate. When I founded the Climate Centre just over a year ago, it was also with the ambition of bringing scientists and political & economic stakeholders together. This first Belgian Science for Climate Action conference is fully in line with the triple objective of strengthening scientific research capacity, improving knowledge transfer, and increasing the applicability of future research programmes on climate action."


Valérie Trouet, Scientific Director of the Climate Centre: "Climate change, limiting its impact (mitigation), and coping and adapting to its consequences (adaptation) are among the biggest societal and planetary challenges today. This awareness is growing, and more and more scientific research fields are focusing on climate change and climate extremes. Be it the study of the physical climate, the impact of climate change on land and water, the societal aspects of climate change or its technological aspects. More and more areas of society are facing climate change." Ella Jamsin, Operational Director of the Climate Centre: "Organising a biennial conference around climate science and climate policy is one of the important ambitions of the Climate Centre. The theme of this first edition (the causes and consequences of climate extremes) meets the broad-based interest in this topical subject. More than 70 speakers will take the floor during the two plenary sessions and 18 parallel sessions. We hope that we will be able to offer the estimated 400 attendees an exciting two-day programme of workshops, and that we will thus be able to kick off a biennial appointment in the calendar for Belgian climate science".


For more information about the conference, and a last update about the line-up of speakers and sessions, please go check the conference website via www.scienceforclimateaction.be.






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