• 20 February 2023

Dublin City, the venue for ECCA2023, embodies the adaptation challenges facing Europe at global and local levels

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Dublin Castle viewed from the public gardens that cover the original ‘Dubh Linn’ 

By Dr Conor Quinlan, Senior Manager Climate Services, Environment Protection Agency.   

Frank McGovern, Chief Climate Scientist at Environmental Protection Agency Ireland and Chair of JPI Climate.

Dublin City has had a long and rich history since it was founded as a Viking settlement on the River Liffey over 1,000 years ago. In that time it has evolved and expanded in response to the economic and social needs of the city and the island of Ireland.  It now accommodates the needs of more than 1m people but climate change is creating challenges for Dublin and for Ireland. The ECCA (European Climate Change Adaptation) conference creates a unique opportunity for dialogue, exchanges and the sharing of challenges, experiences and knowledge. From June 19th-21st the 6th conference, ECCA2023, will be held in Dublin Castle, and Dublin City Hall, by the original ‘Dubh Linn’ or ‘Black Pool’ from which the city takes its name. Our aim is to go beyond dialogue in order to build interlinked communities of expertise and interest across Europe. Similar to many cities, Dublin faces complex adaptation challenges: its low-lying estuarine location, proximity to sensitive ecosystems and recreational locations including the River Liffey and Dublin Bay Special Area of Conservation, its built and cultural heritage, critical infrastructure and transport networks, and the requirement to ensure that all communities in the city are supported in achieving a just transition to a climate resilient future and the requirement to ensure that all communities in the city are supported in achieving a just transition to a climate resilient future.

River flows, water abstraction and flood management

Dublin is built on, and heavily reliant on, the River Liffey, with almost half the total flow of the river abstracted to provide drinking water for the greater Dublin area, and several dams that control fluvial flooding in the city. The Liffey and Dublin Bay are also important aquatic habitats and provide numerous amenity sites. With flooding, droughts and the city’s population all predicted to increase in the future, management of the river and identifying appropriate adaptation actions pose important questions for stakeholders tasked with adaptation planning and implementation in the city.

Many of these complex challenges are exemplified in the venues for ECCA2023. The River Poddle, a tributary of the Liffey, flows underground and around the now-buried moat of Dublin Castle. The castle is an important heritage site, both in terms of its physical fabric and cultural significance, and the adaptation actions which may be required to protect the structure of the site from future flood risk and sea level rise will have to be considered in a sensitive manner.

The conference social evening, on June 20th, will be held in the EPIC Centre in the CHQ building, the evocative Irish emigration museum. This converted warehouse is located in the 18th Century docklands, on land originally reclaimed from the Liffey Estuary, and now known as the ‘Silicon Docks’ due to the concentration of multi-national technology and finance companies based in this area. ECCA2023 attendees will therefore journey through the city from its Viking and Norman core, downstream to the current economic engine of the city in the Dublin Docklands.

Global and local climate risk

The docklands, as a centre of international finance and technology, is exposed to both local and global climate risk in terms of physical impacts due to flooding and sea level rise, and wider implications of international capital flows and their exposure to climate change impacts. The adaptation community in Ireland is excited to welcome ECCA2023 participants to Dublin and we are looking forward to sharing our experiences in relation to adaptation science and practice with colleagues from across Europe.

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