16–17 January 2020: OECD, Paris
In a context where climate change is expected to exacerbate the risk of wildfires in future, a joint PLACARD and OECD workshop discussed the current knowledge and policy gaps on how to accelerate action for resilience to such fires.
The meeting was unfortunately timely, due to the devastating bushfires that Australia has been grappling with. In reflection of this, the conference opened with an intervention from the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the OECD, Dr. Alex Robson, who highlighted the magnitude of the challenges his country is facing.
- Conference summary: Adapting to a changing climate in wildfire management (pdf, 174 KB)
- Presentations from the day are now available from the OECD website.
In the press:
- 16 Jan 2020: Reuters – Wildfire-hit countries in need of new strategies to tame burning threat
- 16 Jan 2020: The Media Times – Fire-stricken countries need new strategies to mitigate the threat
- 17 Jan 2020: The Straits Times – Wildfire-hit countries in need of new strategies to deal with burning threat
- 18 Jan 2020: Insurance Business Australia – New approach needed to mitigate bushfires, say researchers
- 22 Jan 2020: Reuters – Burned by wildfire losses, insurance industry rethinks risks
- 25 Jan 2020: Sydney Morning Herald – The ‘Forever fires’ and Australia’s new reality
Recent wildfire events have made apparent a number of gaps in countries’ management of wildfires and their understanding and incorporation of the underlying climatic changes that are driving their occurrence. Some ways to address these gaps are, for example:
- Furthering the understanding of the impacts of climate change on wildfire risks and identifying existing knowledge and information gaps;
- Ensuring that critical infrastructure operators, private businesses, and citizens are aware of their wildfire exposure and the measures they can take to reduce their own risks and the risks that their activities could generate for others (e.g. power providers);
- Adopting latest technologies and innovation (e.g. satellite imagery to assess and monitor wildfire risks) to more effectively reduce the risks of wildfires;
- Using wildfire risk information to inform public policy making as well as private stakeholders’ adaption decisions and to align policies, such as land-use management, agriculture, urban development, forest management, to effectively adapt to the changing nature of wildfires.
This conference provided an opportunity for participants to discuss current science and policy gaps that need to be addressed to accelerate actions for resilience against wildfires. It also provided an opportunity for participants to share good practices and different country experiences.
The purpose of the conference was:
- To bring together national and subnational government representatives, leading academics, private actors (e.g. (re)insurance providers) and experts from international organisations to discuss the needs for – and to share good practices in – adapting wildfire management approaches to a changing climate;
- To identify issues that need to be addressed to create a conducive environment for aligning wildfire actions, by public as well as private actors, and to design an effective funding architecture to boost wildfire adaptation actions, including ensuring the continued availability of financial protection against wildfire risk
To identify the added-value of international and intergovernmental cooperation on this issue.
Expected outcomes and next steps
This conference should contribute to:
- Setting an agenda for research, policy and practice to improve forest management considering the impacts of climate change on wildfires, with a view to deriving recommendations for central governments and their partners;
- Prioritising areas where the OECD could contribute to addressing existing gaps in its work going forward.