“Communities in poor countries are vulnerable and need help,” said Saleemul Huq, director of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). “So the need to support adaptation is growing in urgency, particularly in enhancing the capacity of communities to cope with disasters, at the same time, fighting poverty, natural disasters, due to climate change.”
He urged national and local governments to include plans to adapt to climate change in their national development strategies and to know better how to effectively take actions.
“People around the world are already adapting to climate change. We need to share knowledge and experience between policy-makers, researchers and development agencies so that communities worldwide can benefit,” Huq said.
Rising seas, extreme weather, melting glaciers and changing patterns of disease threaten human health, food supplies, livelihoods, economies worldwide are some of the challenges faced by poorer countries.
IIED, together with the Vietnamese government, convened over 250 participants from April 15 to 22 from nongovernmental organizations, academe, government and the media on mainstreaming, scaling-up and communicating climate-change adaptation at the community level. Most of them were able to visit eight areas in various communities in Vietnam to learn and share knowledge on grassroots-level adaptation measures.
During her opening remarks, United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction Margareta Wahlstrom said climate-change adaptation and disaster-risk reduction are both developmental issues that need to be highlighted in the implementation of policies.
“To help policy-makers to quickly turn policy on climate-change adaptation and disaster-risk reduction management to action, we need to come together as a community and urge them that this is also a development issue,” Wahlstrom added.
She said research and development as well as capacity-building are some of the cornerstones of successful community-based adaptation initiatives.
Wahlstrom added that local initiatives in dealing with adaptation are much needed at this point as found out by a recent report that funding from humanitarian aid is insufficient with only $3.7 billion out of $363 billion in total aid being spent on disaster reduction in the poorest countries.
Community-based adaptation operates at the local level in communities that are vulnerable to impacts of climate change. It identifies, assists and implements community-based development activities that strengthen the capacity of local people to adapt to living in a riskier and less predictable climate.
“What we are trying to do is to synthesize knowledge, develop network, understand the community practice better and upscale the efforts that ordinary people are doing. We want to look at it as scientific issue and coming a solution, upscaling and helping the community to do better,” Atiq Rahman, director of the Bangladesh Center for Advance Studies, said.
According to Department of Agriculture-Cordillera Administrative Regional Director Marilyn Sta. Catalina, who was also at the conference, countries both from poor and developing nations must do more in mainstreaming climate-change adaptation effectively.
She said that for instance in the Philippines, all sectors must work together up to the local level in planning and implementing mitigation and adaptation measures on climate change. Sta. Catalina added that in most regions, farmers have been receiving various trainings on early warning system and understanding changing planting cycle in the country due to the changing climate.
By Imelda V. Abano, published at BusinessMirror 4/22/2012