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Climate Adaptation Draws Crowd: Mass ECAN Conference 2018

Breakout session at MASS ECAN conference
November 2, 2018

Climate Adaptation Draws Crowd: Mass ECAN Conference 2018

The Massachusetts Ecosystem Climate Adaptation Network (Mass ECAN) celebrated its first birthday by bringing together over 100 climate adaptation practitioners and researchers from across the state during its second annual conference held this year at Framingham State University. Mass ECAN is a community of practice for those working on climate adaptation in Massachusetts and interested in ecosystem resilience and natural resources conservation.

Mass ECAN is coordinated by UMass Extension and currently has 230 members from academia, non-profits, businesses, and state, federal, regional, and local agencies and boards. The Network's short-term goals are to build community, increase knowledge sharing, and foster collaboration among those on the frontlines of responding and preparing for climate change impacts. They accomplish this in a number of ways, including hosting the annual conference and sharing resources via a monthly newsletter. Long-term, the vision is to bring ecosystem resilience and natural resource conservation to the forefront of adaptation action across sectors.

“Climate change is obviously an urgent issue and we don’t have time to reinvent the wheel, and yet, the field of climate adaptation is still fledgling,” explains Mass ECAN Coordinator, Melissa Ocana. “That’s why peer-learning networks, like Mass ECAN, are essential to share lessons learned and implement quality work on the ground.”

The conference provided a unique opportunity to connect with others working on climate change throughout the Commonwealth and to learn from and be inspired by real-world project examples. Attendees engaged in lively discussion during breakouts on each of Mass ECAN’s affiliated Expert Work Groups. These Groups tackle challenging climate adaptation issues requiring cross-organizational collaboration, such as climate communications, conserving coldwater streams and mainstreaming nature-based solutions. At the conference, attendees were reminded that Massachusetts is a national leader on climate adaptation during remarks from Mass. Assistant Secretary for Environment and Environmental Affairs, Dan Sieger. State initiatives were highlighted, including the newly released State Climate Adaptation and Hazard Mitigation Plan. Attendees also heard from municipalities who have successfully incorporated nature-based solutions into the state’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program, which awards planning and action grants. Conference sponsors included UMass’ Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment; the Mass. Division of Ecological Restoration; SumCo Eco-Contracting; Fuss & O’Neill; EcoAdapt; the American Society for Adaptation Professionals, and Mass Audubon.

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Speaker at MASS ECAN conference