Community-based adaptation of climate change and COP 22
Community-based adaptation of climate change is an important issue of practicing in both Asia and Africa in recent years. This is because community-based adaptation (CBA) capacity capacitates the vulnerable and disadvantaged people of both developing and least developed countries. Considering the usefulness, and sustainable benefits of community-based adaptation, experts recommended to nationally adapting the community-based adaptation project to reduce the negative impacts, loss and damage that we terribly face due to climate change.
Community-based adaptation project is based on local priorities, needs, knowledge and capacities, which can both empower and help those people to better cope with and plan for the impacts of climate change. Poor and vulnerable people, including women and children are particularly affected by climate change impacts, such as floods, droughts and other extreme weather events. In CBA project, knowledge is developed by local communities, academics and project managers so that communities can better cope with the climate change.
Research shows that climate change and environmental degradation are some of the greatest threats facing our planet today. Already, 26 million people have been displaced by their effects: rising sea levels, extreme weather patterns, and desertification of valuable farmland.
At the COP (Conference of the Parties) 22 event in Marrakesh, Morocco, the Canada-based, globally reputed International think-tank, International Development Research Centre (IDRC) launched a book titled 'Enhancing adaptation to climate change in developing countries through community-based adaptation (CBA)'. As part of conceptual context of CBA, the book mentioned that there is very strong linkage between climate change and local communities in developing countries. It happens through climate change causes, impacts and response.
The contribution of local communities to greenhouse gasses is very minimal, yet these communities suffer the most impacts such as loss of livelihoods and disasters. For many reasons, supporting their ability to respond to climate change through adaptation is critical.
In terms of climate solution, the book of IDRC recommended that climate 'solutions' must strive to be gender-just and should promote the following: (a) ensure equal access to benefits/equal benefits to women in all areas of the energy value chain; (b) are designed to alleviate rather than add to women's workload; (c) empower women via enhanced accessibility, livelihood security, food security, health including sexual and reproductive health and rights and safety; (d) ensure decision-making in all levels by local women and men, women's groups, cooperatives and communities; and (e) enhances and promotes women's democratic rights.
In this regard, Dr Robert Hofstede, Associate director climate change; agriculture and environment division of IDRC mentioned that the aim of IDRC's climate change program is to support research, partnerships, and networks that inform the adoption of cost-effective solutions to extreme weather and climate change today, while generating long-term social and economic gains that guard against climate impacts in the future. So, "Further research is needed on the benefits and disadvantages to women of climate smart agriculture. Gender-responsive climate policy aims to ensure that women benefit from climate policy implementation as much as men. And gender should be integrated into climate change policy and programs at all levels," Robert opined.
Dr Andrew Norton, director of International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) said, "It is important that the welcome commitments made at COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco by developing countries, and the states to tackle climate change, push the richer governments to take the steps needed to make the Paris Agreement of COP 21 a reality in action."
In terms of gender equality in CBA, new technologies and agricultural practices can help farmers meet the challenges of climate change. However, women and men do not always have equal access to assets, time and resources. And secure access to land, water, information, or finances- that enable them to take advantage of new technologies or practices they may also have different priorities in adopting new technologies.
Dr Bernard Cantin, Program Leader of IDRC said, "Community-based adaptation reflects community ownership. Community information, community knowledge, and community participation are the key to community-based climate change adaptation. All the stakeholders should give emphasize on importance of addressing the needs and interests of the poorest and most vulnerable in international agreements on sustainable development, development finance and climate change adaptation." Developed countries should step up support for vulnerable countries to help them meet ambitious goals for climate change adaptation, Bernard added.
Dr Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD)-Bangladesh said that urban poor communities have begun to work at scale in towns and cities within countries as well as across countries. It is important that national and international policymakers and funders support them to build resilient cities. Without the involvement of the urban poor, no city will be resilient, Saleemul observed.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), its subsidiary processes, and working groups can and should lead by example to ensure that women are represented and heard at the very top of the international climate policy process.
When contacted, Chanda Gurung Goodrich, senior gender specialist of IDRC's partner International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) of Nepal said, "Actually women are very much involved in CBA already in their day-to-day work and activity as they manage the household and their lands. Although they might not see it as 'adaptation', but they are culturally embedded in activities making sense for them only from a livelihood and responsibility perspectives." So, women need to be involved from the very beginning by asking the impacts of climate change, how or what are they doing as a response what capacities, skills and resources they have for this, what are their specific constraints and challenges. Based on these the adaptation practices should be developed, Chanda mentioned.
In fact, women play a crucial role in both preventing climate change and adapting to its dire consequences. They constitute the majority of the climate change refugees/ climate-displaced and often live on the most vulnerable lands, but women are also the everyday innovators who find solutions and deal with the changed reality for people and planet. Systems need to go beyond ensuring adequate numerical representation by women towards mechanisms for raising the voice and credibility of women in policy processes. For example, the UNFCCC should also institutionalize 'he forshe' mechanisms, to encourage men to actively promote women's voices, the discussants mentioned further at COP22.r
Parvez Babul is a journalist, columnist and author. Email: [email protected]