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The AdaptNSW 2023 Forum

The AdaptNSW 2023 Forum

The 2023 AdaptNSW Forum, ‘navigating uncertainty together', attracted over 350 attendees who heard from 85+ presenters across 30 breakout, panel, workshop and keynote sessions. 

Held across two days, 4-5 December 2023, attendees heard from multi-disciplinary leaders in the climate adaptation field to reimagine and find new ways of being in a climate changed world.  Forum participants came from all sectors, including all levels of government, business, education, NGO's, community leaders and industry.

Below are presentations from the two days organised into streams and program highlights. Workshops were not recorded, however resources from the workshops have been shared where possible. 


Program highlights

Climate disclosure - does it have the power to drive systems change?

What are climate-related disclosures? Why do they matter? and can they really drive the systemic change required to meet the challenges we face today? Our panellists shared their experiences of the realm of climate-related financial disclosures in a holistic exploration of this crucial topic.

Panel members:

  • Angela Cummine 
  • Ann Austin 
  • Zoe Bush
The Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosure (TNFD); why you need to care

The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosure (TNFD) is set to redefine our corporate relationship with nature. The disclosure recommendations signal a radical transformation of global business, bringing nature related risks and opportunities to the forefront. What do you need to know to prepare for and respond to the global roll out of TNFD? And what's happening closer to home?

Panel members:

  • Alison Osborne 
  • Antony Sprigg 
  • Mladen Kovac 
  • Ross Barton
The Northern Rivers: Adaptation after a disaster
The Northern Rivers: Adaptation after a disaster commences 59min 39sec into recording

This session explored the unique challenges of integrating adaptation objectives into recovery efforts, and lessons from large-scale and transformative adaptation in the Northern Rivers following the devastating 2022 floods.

Chair: Nerida Buckley

Panel members:

  • Dan Etheridge 
  • Jamie Simmonds 
  • Jean Renouf
How do we as climate professionals maintain our mental health and resilience?
Chloe Watfern commences 1hr 3min into recording, Day 1 plenary afternoon

How do we sustain a healthy engagement with climate and ecological issues? An exploration of the psychological terrain of ongoing climate engagement.


  • Chloe Watfern
Our future: youth perspectives on climate change

We know that our youth are at the forefront of the climate crisis. Discover the importance of listening to their voices and learn how we can integrate and harness their unique engagement methods to reshape the climate narrative. This was a dynamic conversation where emerging youth leaders discussed how they are making a difference in the fight against climate change.

Panel members:

  • Dani Villafana 
  • Grace Vegesana 
  • Will Hazza
Biodiversity management in NSW and on Country ecosystem adaptation

The recent Biodiversity Act review highlights the need to change the way we are managing land for biodiversity. This session explored how Aboriginal Cultural Knowledge can assist threatened species management, which in turn can support healthy Culture and Healthy Country.

Panel members:

  • Eren Turak 
  • Luke Foster 
  • Michelle Leishman
A Deep Time Story of Cultural Awakening
'A Deep Time Story of Cultural Awakening' commences at 27min 27sec

Leith took us into a deep time story designed to culturally orient us to why and how we are where we find ourselves and where our healing might lie in the years ahead. This is just one way of sense making in an infinitely complex and alive world. Like all good stories, this story has been developed over a long time with an intention for it to be medicinal. It has been listened to many times and in every listening, it evolves. 


  • Leith Sharp

Managing risk

Insurance challenges in a changing world

Is it possible for insurance to stay fair, equitable and accessible for everyone? What role does the insurance industry play in managing climate change risk? This panel explored these and other challenging questions in a rapidly changing world.

Chair: Jane Gibbs

Panel members:

  • Alix Pearce 
  • Julia Davis 
  • Sharanjit Paddam
Urban Heat: Are we prepared for what the future holds?

Does life in urban hotspots have to be inhospitable? Who stands at the intersection of extreme heat events, insufficient infrastructure and fast growing populations - and what are we doing to help them?

Panel members:

  • Beck Dawson 
  • Judith Bruinsma 
  • Peter Nichols
The power of NARCliM climate projections. The ultimate tool for navigating uncertainty

Imagine if we had an understanding of how the climate was going to change into the far future? This session looked at how NARCliM has already informed state level planning, and future opportunities presented by the next generation of data - NARCliM 2.0.

Panel members:

  • Michael Drielsma 
  • Jillian Thonell
Embedding climate risk in government decision-making

How do we identify risks and build capability in climate risk management, while engaging effectively with key decision-makers? Four NSW Government Climate Risk Officers discuss their pioneering journeys to embed climate risks into decision-making.

Panel members:

  • Carlos Bartesaghi-Koc 
  • Chris Weston 
  • Julia Adams 
  • Melinda Hillery
Adaptation planning 101

An introductory adaptation planning workshop to learn how to apply simple processes to create adaptation plans across different sectors and contexts. Participants will gain insights into where to go next in their journey including where to seek support and guidance documentation.


Lucy Wedge 

Mark Siebentritt


Cultural and scientific knowledge

The new frontier of climate adaptation and impacts science
Panel discussion commences 57sec into video

Climate change is here. Modelling and observations indicate that we will experience further change, although the magnitude and exact impacts are uncertain. This session explored exciting projects and research that are helping to reduce uncertainty and provide guidance for risk mitigation and climate adaptation into the future.

Chair: Matt Riley

Panel members:

  • Andrea Taschetto 
  • Matthias Boer 
  • Sarah Boulter
Applying bushfire science to fire planning in NSW

Research is crucial in understanding how climate change is impacting bushfires, and to help NSW communities adapt to changing climate-driven fire seasons. Find out how the NSW Government’s Applied Bushfire Science Program is working to respond to the 2020/21 NSW Bushfire Inquiry - to ensure we are prepared for what is unfolding.

Panel members:

  • Amanda Close 
  • James Barker 
  • Jillian Macintyre 
  • Justin Colette 
  • Renée Woodward
Coastal planning in a sea of uncertainty

We know that the oceans are rising, and will continue to do so for millenials to come. With 85% of the NSW population living within 50km from the coast, how are we to manage what is perhaps the most wicked climate policy issue of our time? Discover how science, management and engineering are guiding climate change adaptation to sea level rise in NSW’s coastlines and estuaries.

Panel members:

  • Dave Hanslow 
  • David Wainwright 
  • Marc Daley
Climate change and marine ecosystems: Threats, opportunities, and solutions

Explore the complex and interconnected impacts of climate change on coastal communities, marine ecosystems and biodiversity. This session discussed how research and management strategies are transforming threats to opportunities - better enabling us to manage ecosystems and support community adaptation.

Panel members:

  • Beth Toki 
  • Coral Latella 
  • Curtis Champion 
  • Will Glamore

Systems transformation

A creative toolkit for tackling wicked problems
The session 'A creative toolkit...' commences at 1hr 7min 33sec

How can organisations harness progressive design tools to drive transformation? This session explored how a life centred design approach can support climate change adaptation.


  • Damien Lutz
Female thought leaders driving new narratives

A candid discussion with female thought leaders who are creating new narratives in their specific fields. Learn about what drives and inspires them, current projects, and how they manage the complexity of working in a time of such challenge and opportunity.

Panel members:

  • Catherine Polcz 
  • Sally Hill

New narratives

The role of cultural institutions and the arts in responding to climate change
'The role of cultural institutions' session commences at 14min 21sec

A discussion about Sydney's key cultural institution's response to climate change - and how they are telling and inspiring new stories.

Chair: Catherine Kerr

Panel members:

  • Emma Bombonato 
  • Jenny Newell 
  • Joel Werner
NSW households are not all the same: applying a diversity lens to adaptation

One of the greatest opportunities of climate adaptation is creating a socially just future for all. How can this be achieved? And are we listening to all of the voices?

Panel members:

  • Andrew Glover 
  • Eleanor Harris 
  • Nina Shahi
What does community-led disaster resilience planning really look like?

There is broad acceptance that including community voices strengthens resilience outcomes, and recent projects show a commitment to community-led solutions for resilience preparedness. Yet, communities are not often involved in the tough trade-offs that are central to developing resilience strategies. In this session, we discussed why deep engagement is critical and how it can be deployed to understand risk and enable both government-led and community-led risk reduction measures.

Panel members:

  • Peta Collins 
  • Sam Kernaghan 
  • Scott Lappan-Newton 
  • Yvette Andrews
Compounding impacts of climate change on Farming

NSW landholders face a future of compounding climate change impacts. To what extent does the vulnerability of the societal systems they exist within effect their ability to meet the challenges this future holds?

Panel members:

  • Andrew McIntyre 
  • Hanabeth Luke 
  • Mari Jaervis 
  • Rachael Young
Navigating an uncertain future together
Day 2 - Afternoon plenary - Navigating an uncertain future together

What is the future asking of us today, and how can transformative leadership help guide our way forward? Four panellists representing the sub-themes of this year's forum will explore the role of imagination, culture, and curiosity in navigating an uncertain future, together.

Chair: Aaron Coutts-Smith

Panel members:

  • Carli Leimbach 
  • David Schlosberg 
  • Rick Shaw 
  • Zoe Bush
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