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Social Development

Latin Indigenous Peoples Hard Hit by Climate Change

Tom Grubisich's picture

Some 28 million members of Indigenous Peoples live in Latin America, many of them in poverty and prone to flooding and other weather extremes caused or exacerbated by climate change.  A number of finalist projects aim to give Indigenous Peoples in Latin America a cushion against weather extremes.

Here's a sampling of the projects:

In Mexico, ITESM at Tecnologico de Monterrey seeks "to help people from Tutuaca, Otachique, and Conoachi communities in Chihuahua through a biocultural rescuing program to maintain native maize genetic diversity facing climate change needs, including validation and verification mechanisms to preserve their diverse maize races."

In Peru, an organization of women from four communities in the High Andean region proposes "to recover ancestral knowledge and techniques to mitigate the effects of cold spells, reducing the vulnerability of 2,758 comuneros belonging to 551 families in the district of Palca."

In El Savador, Instituto para en Rescate Ancestral Indigena Salvadoreno  (RAIS) seeks to "recover, divulge, and make people aware of the knowledge of 100 wise indigenous women regarding the properties and interpretation of the language of both climate and earth as a support tool to prevent climate-change risks."

Gross Domestic Product Not Sole Indicator of Progress

Joe Qian's picture

What is Happiness? Many of us equate it with money. However, since 1972, the kingdom of Bhutan under the leadership of its former King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck has measured its developmental success not solely through the economic lens of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but also through a more complete approach known as Gross National Happiness (GNH). Its laurels were based upon the original four pillars of sustainable development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and good governance.

These indicators have become increasingly important over the last three decades as it became apparent that blindly pursuing economic expansion has created growing pains in a number of countries. GNH has appeared to be very successful in Bhutan, a nation the size of Switzerland with a population of around 700,000. With initiatives such as maintaining at least 60% (currently 72%) of the land for forests and conservation, while maintaining 165 indigenous mammal species such as the rare snow leopard, Bhutan also has a fast growing economy.

Government spending on health and education is the highest in the region at 18% and Bhutan boasts a GDP growth rate of 21.4% and a per capita income level that is almost twice as much as much as India’s, although it was much poorer as recently as the 1980’s. Independent sources also seem to echo these sentiments as Business Week magazine rated Bhutan the world’s 8th happiest country.

DM2009 Projects Aim to Help the Most Vulnerable

Tom Grubisich's picture

The world's poor are those most exposed to climate change that often brings drought, flooding, and other extreme weather.

DM2009 finalist projects aim to protect the most vulnerable from these disasters, while also helping them to develop economically.  Overall, such initiatives are called "linking adaptation to development."

In Mozambique, droughts keep about 500,000 people in chronic food insecurity, and indications are that dry periods aggravated by climate change will stretch out beyond the current "hunger period" of October to January.

Helvetas Mozambique, one of the finalists, describes what happens:

"Without access to quality seeds, subsistence farmers practicing rain-fed agriculture continue recycling grain that has been exhausted after generations of cultivation, producing poor yields. Subsequent storage losses cause 22 percent of rural households to run out of stocks and suffer from food shortages during the..'hunger period.'"

To break this cycle, Swiss-based Helvetas proposes what it calls a "zero-emission fridge" consisting of low-cost storage facilities run by community-owned seed banks that "distribute quality seeds of improved crop varieties and serve as a social safety net to benefit 10,000+ rural households -- focusing particularly on the most resource-poor and vulnerable groups" (photo at left).

For DM2009, All the World Is Its Multimedia Stage

Tom Grubisich's picture

DM2009 will be go multimedia in a big and global way during the Nov. 10-13 exhibition.  The event will be held -- physically -- in the Main Complex of the World Bank Group in Washington, but you can be completely connected from anywhere in the world.

Some things that will happen, and are already happening:

  • Finalists, sponsors, and visitors will be able to borrow Flip camcorders at the DM2009 kiosk to record what's going on and upload their videos at the kiosk to DM2009's YouTube channel.  (In photo at right, DM2009 communications leader Edie Wilson shows World Bank External Communications Web Managing Editor Angie Gentile how to do it.)
  • DM2009 will livestream video of the event -- here for Windows Media and here for Flash -- and upload interviews with finalists to the DM2009's channel on YouTube.
  • There are various DM2009 accounts at Twitter that can be followed, and the DM2009 blog will carry their Tweets during the event.
  • DM2009 participants and visitors can also share events photos at Flickr and Slideshare, links at Delicious, connections at LinkedIn, and all kinds of info/images at DM2009's Facebook site.
  • This blog will be an online event central where participants and visitors can published their reactions -- in text, images, and video. 

Incentives and Values in Conflict-Prone Countries

Eliana Cardoso's picture

One of the most extraordinary examples of the use of economic principles comes from the beginning of the 19th century, when England used to send a huge number of prisoners to Australia. The government originally paid the ship captain a pre-determined amount for each prisoner that boarded the ship, but half of them would die during the journey. In 1862, Edwin Chadwik, knowing that people respond to incentives, told the U.K. government to pay captains according to the number of prisoners that actually disembarked in Australia. With this adjustment, the survival rate increased from 50% to 98.5%.

This example illustrates how incentives can do wonders in some circumstances. Yet, human actions are not always guided by the same calculations made by a profit maximizing ship captain. Behavioral economists have emphasized that we respond to a deep ingrained sense of fairness. Culture and values are crucial in understanding human behavior and promoting healthy and stable societies.

From 1,755 Entries, 100 Finalists From Every Region

Tom Grubisich's picture

The 100 finalist proposals for DM2009 were selected from 1,755 international applications through a rigorous two-stage assessment process guided by the principles of fairness, transparency, and consensus. Nearly 200 experts from the World Bank Group and a range of other organizations volunteered their time to serve as assessors, each reviewing 20 to 35 proposals.

Each proposal was evaluated by a minimum of three assessors from a diverse range of backgrounds. Assessors individually read an assigned batch of proposals and then, grouped in teams of three to five, narrowed down the number of proposals through discussion and  consensus. At least one person in each assessment team participated from outside the World Bank Group to ensure a varied perspective.

Proposals were evaluated against the criteria of innovation, results, project design and organizational capacity, sustainability, and growth potential. Special emphasis was placed on innovation, as DM's foremost interest is to find new, creative and innovative approaches to weather-threatened settlements and agriculture, especially in developing countries.

The top 10 finalist countries were: Peru, Philippines, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Kenya, Ecuador, India, Nepal, Cambodia, and Colombia.

Climate Change Debate Heads Toward Resolution

Edith Wilson's picture

Pre-Copenhagen meeting in Barcelona earlier this yearThe ninth annual Development Marketplace Global Competition takes place in the midst of international debate and negotiation about how to mitigate the causes and adapt to the impacts of climate change.   The event is an integral part of the efforts on climate change within the World Bank Group and complements the Pilot Program on Climate Resilience, part of the Climate Investment Funds operated by the multilateral development banks.

A comprehensive, enforceable agreement on controlling global warming that doesn’t penalize developing nations is the goal of world leaders at the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Copenhagen on Dec. 7-18, 2009. Leading up to Copenhagen was the two-year Bali Action Plan agreed to in December 2007.

Adaptation and Mitigation – The Difference

Tom Grubisich's picture

There are two ways to respond to climate change – adaptation and mitigation.  The responses are not an either/or.  Both are necessary.  Adaptation, as early as the short term, can cushion people and places against the impacts of extreme weather, including drought, heat waves, flooding, and rising sea levels.  Mitigation, over time, can slow down manmade global warming, which has been identified by many scientific studies as a major cause of extreme weather.

Adaptation to Climate Tied to Development

Rasmus Heltberg's picture

How should adaptation to climate change be designed and funded? In the run-Storm pattern from satelliteup to the December 2009 Copenhagen climate negotiations there’s an international push to create new funding mechanisms for climate adaptation in developing countries. Given the complexity of climate change and limited experience in funding adaptation, we in the World Bank’s Social Development department decided to launch a study of the lessons from the DM2009 proposals. The proposals constitute a large and interesting database of proposed adaptation interventions. By studying the proposals as a group, we hope to gain insight into the global supply of adaptation innovations and project ideas, especially at the community level.

Our study considers how adaptation is conceptualized by suppliers of global adaptation interventions, what innovations for climate adaptation are proposed, and what kind of partnerships are put forward. We hope to contribute to policy discussions on how donors in the future can provide funding for community-based adaptation to climate change.

One of the discussions circulating among practitioners is how to orient funding for adaptation: Should development funds be considered separate from adaptation or are the two intertwined?    


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