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Copenhagen Climate Talks -- Viewed From Nigeria

What do the international climate change negotiations in Copenhagen mean to the many millions of people who will be most affected by global warming?  DM2009 winner Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu (with microphone in photo below) has some on-the-ground answers from Nigeria.  Ikegwuonu's novel radio drama project will help educate up to 15 million small farmers in southeastern Nigeria whose livelihoods are affected by torrential, soil-eroding rains aggravated by climate change.

1.    Given an opportunity to address world leaders in Copenhagen, I would tell them that climate change is global but the solutions are local. To this end education is the key to long-term climate adaptation. While education on climate change mitigation and adaptation is well advanced in developed nations of the world, it is relatively unknown among billions of people at the base of the pyramid in developing countries who ironically have the least means to cope in the event of climate change- induced disaster.  I would tell world leaders that efforts to tackle climate change must first dwell on education because it breaks all forms of barrier, poverty included.  Education opens the mind and motivates the quest for results. An educated person is empowered to make better choices.  Furthermore, people cannot be developed but can only be given options through a system of education to develop themselves.

2.    Climate change is relatively unknown in Nigeria. This is because people have not been properly educated or informed.  Rural people consider climate change to be a short-term weather change but fail to realize that the change is not short term but long term. Indeed some conversations centered on mitigation and adaptation are being taken at Federal government level in Nigeria, but the outcome of these conversations is still relatively unknown to Nigerians. However, the present Copenhagen COP 15 has drawn small media attention to climate change, but this has not sparked up a debate which Nigerians are used to on such an important issue.  More media attention is desired.

 

DM2009 Adaptation Theme Catches On Worldwide

Tom Grubisich's picture

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.

Second Chance for Bangladesh DM2009 Finalists?

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Bangladesh, the most populous Least Developed Country (160 million people), was represented by five finalists at DM2009.  That's not surprising, because Bangladesh, with its heavily populated and low-lying coastal region, is especially vulnerable to climate change in the form of more frequent and intense cyclones that cause widespread flooding (photo).  However, none of the five Bangladesh adaptation projects won. But there may yet be some hope for them.  The objectives of all five appear to dovetail with much bigger adaptation projects that the Bangladesh government has identified as high priority and is seeking to fund through its National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA).  Perhaps more significant, the DM2009 finalist projects provide specific details that aren't in the general projects of the Bangladesh NAPA.

The projects that made it to the DM2009 finals would:

 

The total cost of these early-stage projects is under US$940,000 -- a fraction of the nearly US$20 million estimated cost of five similar high-priority adaptation projects identified by the Bangladesh government in its National Adaptation Program of Action. Those more general projects would provide for:

  •  Purification of contaminated drinking water.
  •  Emergency shelter, information, and assistance, mainstreaming adaptation in agriculture, and
  •  Development of eco-specific adaptive knowledge.

 

Bangladesh is seeking at least partial funding of those projects through the Least Developed Countries Fund administered by the Global Environment Facility.  But another Bangladesh adaptation project -- coastal afforestation -- has completed almost all steps for approval.  That US$23 million project would get LDCF funding of US$3.72 million -- about as much as Bangladesh could expect to receive in toto, considering the Fund's present limited resources of US$150 million which have to be spread among 48 other LDCs. But LDCs will be lobbying for the developed countries to contribute more to the Fund at the U.N.-sponsored climate change negotiations that begin next week in Copenhagen.  A recently published World Bank analysis says all developing nations, including LDCs, would have to spend US$100 billion annually on climate change adaptation for decades to come to avoid falling behind in their economic growth.

The Bangladesh finalists were not the only ones who didn't win at DM2009.  But Bangladesh is, by far, the biggest member of the LDCs.  Furthermore, Bangladesh is one of the six countries that are being studied for funding under the World Bank's Pilot Program for Climate Resilience.  Funding, which includes pledges from developed nations totaling US$546 million, is earmarked for projects that are part of each recipient country's NAPA.   Those five DM2009 finalists should go all out to get themselves included in Bangladesh's NAPA.  They would fit perfectly.

Indigenous Knowledge +Science and Technology = DM2009 Winners

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Nine DM2009 winners will use the centuries-old knowledge of Indigenous Peoples to adapt to destructive climate change -- but often leveraged with modern science and technology.

Here's how old and new will be joined in several winning projects in Latin America:

  • Peru -- Agricultural production in four communities in the Amazonian Basin (total population: 1,500) will be better managed through a combination of ancestral knowledge of the Basin and biomathematical computer simulation model and geographic information system (GIS)-based "micro-zoning" of the communities' ecology and economics. 
  • Colombia -- Traditional knowledge, aided by GIS and the sciences of ecology and biology, will be used to protect 207,000 hectares of native forest for a combination of conservation, housing, hunting, fishing, and gathering, traditional farming, and preservation of sacred places for community rituals. 
  • Costa Rica -- Ancient knowledge of adjacent valley and mountain ecosystems will be rescued and melded with mapping and other technology to help valley inhabitants of Bajo Chirripo to better cope with flooding caused by storms whose frequency and intensity are expected to increase with climate change, and to improve their present subsistence income. 
  • Peru -- Indigenous knowledge systems on how to adapt the native potato to changing climate will be combined with modern plant breeding to help communities in Potato Park in the High Andes to adapt to rapid climate change with weather-resilient plantings. 

 

Most of the finalist and winning projects that would help Indigenous Peoples were based in countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, where the intellectual property rights of indigenous communities against "biopiracy" and related theft have won more legal protection -- a clear signal for what needs to be done in other regions to protect indigenous rights.

Poor People's Knowledge: Promoting Intellectual Property in Developing Countries
, edited by J. Michael Finger and Philip Schuler (2004, World Bank and Oxford University Press), is a detailed primer on the issue, including an examination of the controversial World Trade Organization (WTO)-administered Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), which indigenous communities say is unfair to them.

Least Developed Countries and DM2009

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The DM2009 competition, whose theme was adaptation to climate change, especially how it impacts the poor and vulnerable on the local level, would seem to have been the perfect fit for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The poorest countries are expected to pay the highest price of climate change on their human, natural, and economic resources.  With generally weak capacity in regional and national government and infrastructure, they would seem to be well suited for the early-stage, community-focused projects of DM2009.  In fact, criteria for National Adaptation Plans of Action for LDCs give No. 1 ranking to "a participatory process involving stakeholders, particularly local communities."

But the fit proved less than perfect.  The 49 LDCs worldwide produced only 26 of the 100  finalists.  Only four were winners -- two from Sub-Saharan Africa (Burkina Faso and Ethiopia) and one each from Middle East and North Africa (Djibouti) and East Asia and the Pacific (Samoa).  Five finalists were from the most populous LDC -- Bangladesh, in South Asia -- but none of those was a winner.  LDCs Tanzania and Uganda -- two of Sub-Saharan Africa's most populous countries -- had only three finalists between them, none of whom was a winner.

Is it too late for the 22 LDC finalists who didn't pick up crystal globes at the Nov. 13 awards ceremony?  Maybe not.  According to most recent findings, the 49 LDCs globally aren't making enough progress in pinpointing potential local climate adaptation projects. 

What if the 10 LDCs from which the 22 non-winning finalists come took a close look at those projects and considered them for funding in their National Adaptation Plans of Action?  Some DM2009 jurors said they had a tough time choosing winners because all the finalists presented strong entries.

Development Marketplace's decision makers are looking at ways to help all the finalists succeed.  Aleem Walji, Practice Manager at the World Bank Institute, which includes the secretariat for the Development Marketplace consortium and other innovation platforms, said in a mini-interview on this blog: "I think we have a responsibility to try and support this entire community of finalists.  We went from 1,750 applicants to a hundred finalists.  What can we do to connect these hundred finalists to everyone who we know who can help them go forward -- funders, capacity builders, past DM winners, each other."

For themselves, their projects, and their countries, the 20 non-winning finalists from LDCs should keep their hope in their hearts.

DM2009 to Help Indigenous Grassroots Grow in Siberia

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The 40 Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and Far East in Russia endure one of the world's most hostile environments.  But it is man, not nature, that threatens the very existence of these communities, which have dwindled to about 250,000 people who live in sometimes besieged camps and villages sprinkled across the vast frozen landscape from the Barents Sea to the Pacific Ocean.  (Photo credit: EALÁT.)

Deforestation, industrialization, and flooding from hydropower drive Russia's Indigenous Peoples from their ancestral homelands.  Illegal fishing, poaching, and the auction of fishing grounds deprive them of their livelihoods.  Russia's Indigenous Peoples are, theoretically, protected by federal laws, but advocacy groups say there's no regulatory force to the laws.  The collective plight of the communities is grim evidence behind those arguments.

Leading the fight to put teeth in the laws is the Center for Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North (CISPN).  Its tenacious struggle, which has won it some legal skirmishes in Moscow and at international forums, has now earned it one of the 26 awards given at the Development Marketplace 2009 competition.  The $200,000 award will go toward a grassroots project that will help indigenous communities leverage their traditional knowledge with contemporary techniques of communication and advocacy that involve engaging all stakeholders.  The goal is a "climate strategy" of adaptation that will finally lead to real, enforceable protection of Russia's indigenous communities.

CISPN Director Rodion Sulyandziga, proudly holding his crystal globe after the Nov. 13 awards ceremony in Washington, said: “It’s a great day.  I’m very proud.  The most important thing is the Indigenous Peoples’ voice is heard in Siberia and everywhere.”

And then it was back to Moscow for Sulyandziga -- to map the Center's new grassroots fight.

World Bank and Adaptation: The Need to Think Small

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A  revealing interview at DM2009 was the one of Ian Noble, a top World Bank expert on climate change, and member of the World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change team who was also a DM2009 juror.  Noble was questioned by Habiba Gitay, Senior Environmental Specialist at the World Bank Institute, about the big development projects that the World Bank has traditionally fostered and financed and the micro-sized, early-stage or seed projects (up to $200,000 in value) that are part of the Development Marketplace competitions. Noble's answers underscored how the Bank, in responding to the destructive impacts of climate change on the people and natural resources of developing countries, is increasingly thinking small about adaptation projects.

"Ultimately, adaptation is going to be carried out by individual people, households, small communities," Noble answered.  "So one of the challenges of the World Bank is to shift out-sourcing to that level.  This is a huge, rich body of information flowing into the World Bank from Development Marketplace, especially in the case of this [competition].  With the tension between community-based adaptation and adaptation funding at the national level, a bridge has to be built [between the two]."

 

Innovation Needs More Than Money to Succeed

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Innovative adaptation projects, like those featured at DM2009, hold enormous potential for blunting the adverse impact of climate change in developing countries, while also helping to reduce poverty and build social value.  But to achieve their potential, these projects have to be scaled.  Money is important for projects to get beyond their early or seed stage.  But money alone isn't enough -- as already succcessful project leaders emphasized at the Nov. 12 DM2009 panel "Taking an Idea to Scale" (photo at right: panelist and competition juror Anne Marie Moeller of Humana People to People India).  To succeed, panelists emphasized, innovative projects also have to be firmly planted within their communities, understand local needs, find partners with whom they develop solid cooperation, and be supported with staff who are both dedicated and skilled.

 

To help put all the pieces together and effectively link adaptation to development on a scale of broad replication, the World Bank Institute is, among other things, reshaping itself as a "knowledge broker" that connects projects with the right people and institutions within the development community as well as with governments.  Aleem Walji, the WBI's new Innovation Practice Manager, talks about this in his mini-interview below, as well as in his introduction to the "Taking an Idea to Scale" panel (video link above).  There are more details in this WBI statement about the the new strategy under Institute Vice President Sanjay Pradhan.

 

Aleem Walji on Development Marketplace

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Aleem Walji is the new Innovation Practice Manager at the World Bank Institute, which includes the secretariat for the Development Marketplace consortium and other innovation platforms.  He is former Head of Global Development Initiatives at Google.  The peripatetic Walji sat down for this mini-interview as DM2009 was winding up:

Q. Development Marketplace stresses innovation, both in projects it seeks and how they're evaluated.  Why is innovation so important?


A. The need for solutions, and fast, is urgent.  Business as usual is simply not sufficient.  We’ve got to look at new ways of doing things -- things that have worked in one part of the world that may work in another part of the world, or are entirely new.  We put out a call to the world, particularly the developing world, to say what are your ideas, what are you doing, what can you do? How can we support you, adapting to a rapidly changing climate? This competition was to shine a light on those ideas.

Q.  We hear a lot about scale.  What does it really mean?

A. Scale is a term often used and misused.  When I think about scale I think about a pathway to reach the maximum number of people possible.  It doesn’t necessarily mean an organization has to become extremely large for an idea to scale.  It could mean that an idea is adopted by a small organization but relevant and replicated by other groups in other parts of the world. When I think of the Development Marketplace, we want to get to the point where we can connect early-stage ideas to the people, money, and partners who can help see ideas through to execution and grow them to their optimal levels. 

Q. What factors are important for success? 

A. In many ways we’re really betting on leadership, we’re betting on people who we think are going to deliver an outcome, and are going to be flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances.  The projects will change, they will adapt, they will grow.  What we’re really talking about is how do we position our winners to be able to benefit from our support, then really leverage it, along with partners.  We want to be connectors in an ecosystem.  We want to be connectors in a cycle of growth and scale.

Q.  Most of the DM2009 projects came from NGOs and academic institutions.  There weren’t very many from entrepreneurs...

A.  This is a little bit of concern to me.  When you look at the viability of any project it has to have a pathway to sustainability, and commercialization is one pathway. When there are ideas that can be commercialized and have revenue models that can be sustained, that is a very positive sign.  For those that don’t, there have to be other paths to viability like public-private partnerships for example.  For those that don’t have one or the other, I worry how they will sustain themselves.  That's where partnerships becomes key and our role in creating an "enabling ecosystem" of seed funders, debt financiers, equity players, and capacity builders is very important.
 

Blogs, Other Sites Follow the DM2009 Story

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DM2009 has been drawing attention from climate-change-related and other blogs and websites around the world.  In "The Dirt," published by the American Society of Landscape Architects, web content and strategy manager Jared Green -- who was also a juror for the DM2009 competition --  published this post about some of the winning finalists. Green's post was picked up by the Sustainable Cities Collective blog.

Some of the attention came from abroad -- the site the Austrian Network for Information and Communication Technologies for Development and -- in France -- Actualités News environnement.

Climate-L, which is produced by an international team of climate change experts with funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, published this article.

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