The theme of DM2009 -- "Climate Adaptation" -- is looking very timely. Today in the Washington Post there's a revealing Page One feature on how adaptation is catching on in countries around the world, with a special focus on what the Dutch, who have had centuries of experience coping with flooding, are doing to manage perhaps worse threats coming from climate change.
Most adaptation strategies assume the Earth will get hotter -- by at least 2 degrees C. no matter what countries do to mitigate the buildup of greenhouse gases. Adaptation doesn't try to control climate, but to adjust to its destructive impacts, like flooding and drought. The goals are to protect people and their community, including natural resources.
The frustration with DM2009 wasn't its mission, but that there wasn't enough money to fund all the worthwhile adaptation projects that made it to the finals. The nearly US$5 million pool funded 26 projects. But at least some jurors thought there were many more worthy projects. After all, the 100 finalists had survived a screeening that eliminated 94 percent of applicant projects.
The post-competition challenge is how non-winners can stay alive. Twenty-two of the projects aim to bring help to Least Developed Countries (LDCs), those which stand to be the biggest losers from climate change, like Bangladesh in South Asia, Nepal (photo of Nepalese villager by Simone D. McCourtie, World Bank) in East Asia and the Pacific, and Mozambique and many other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. To improve their chances, LDC project sponsors should make an all-out effort to be included in their countries' National Adaptation Programs of Action. Most of the world's 49 LDCs have produced NAPAs as a key step toward getting funding for their adaptation efforts from developed countries. While the LDC Fund contains only US$172 million -- hardly enough for adaptation projects in 49 countries -- the amount is likely to be increased as a result the U.N.-sponsored climate change negotiations that begin in Copenhagen on Monday. Furthermore, the World Bank's Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) has US$546 million to help finance NAPA adaptation projects of LDCs that are in the pilot. So far, PPCR includes six LDCs. Thirteen of the non-winning DM2009 finalists come from four of those six pilot countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mozambique, and Nepal).
The 22 non-winning DM2009 finalists from LDC countries can make strong cases for inclusion in NAPAs. First, they have already been closely scrutinized by evaluators. Second, these early-stage projects are minimally expensive -- none would cost more than US$200,000. Third, they meet the top NAPA "guiding element" of local focus because they're strongly community-based. Fourth, they were designed to be replicated. And fifth, their specific objectives dovetail with the more general ones of their countries' NAPAs.
There's a common message for all those finalists: Go for it.