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Public Sector and Governance

Why Climate Adaptation Has to Begin at Home

Tom Grubisich's picture

DM2009 finalists focused on community-based adaptation (CBA) to climate change because the struggle against intensifying drought, storms, flooding, and rising sea levels in developing countries often must begin not in national ministries but at home.  Why that's so is summed up cogently in this slide show from CARE, the global  organization that focuses on helping the poorest individuals and households  The slide show was presented at the pre-Copenhagen U.N. climate meeting in Poznan, Poland, in December 2008, but it's as relevant today as it was then.  Maybe more so.

'Some Current Approaches to Climate Adaptation May Bypass Local Institutions'

Tom Grubisich's picture

Carbon dioxide -- the chief cause of manmade global warming -- doesn't park itself only in the atmosphere over major emitting countries.  So, obviously, the response to climate change requires global action.  But drought, storms, flooding, and rising sea levels demand climate adaptation tailored to circumstances that will vary by region and even locality.  For example, farmers in one part of southern Zambia may have to respond with a hybrid maize seed that differs significantly from what needs to be planted in another part of that climate-besieged food bowl.  The issue in southern Zambia is not just more intense drought, but how it can, and does, vary in intensity even within one region.  Dry weather may be so severe in one area that farmers there may have to give up maize cultivation and plant an entirely different crop.

Such fine-tuned local adaptation can't come primarily out of ministries of the national governments of developing countries trying to cope with the mounting adverse impacts of climate change on people and resources.  It requires local institutions to meet the capacity gap.  But national governments aren't collaborating that closely with civil society at the community level.

This from the new book Social Dimensions of Climate Change (World Bank, 2010):

"It is unfortunate that some current approaches to adaptation planning and financing may bypass local institutions.  The current push to formulate national adaptation plans of action [NAPAs] seems to have missed the opportunity to propose adaptation projects for community- and local-level public, private, or civic institutions."

DM2009 Finalists Build Strong Presence on Blog

Tom Grubisich's picture

DM2009 finalists have been major participants in this blog.  Since the site re-launched on Oct. 27, 2009, 33 finalists from 25 countries have contributed 12 articles, been interviewed 14 times, quoted 18 times, and commented twice.  Here's a breakdown of finalist contributions by country.  The linked names will take you to the finalists' projects, and the linked titles to the finalists' contributions.

 

Bangladesh

 

Belize

 

Ecuador

 

El Salvador

 

Ghana

 

India

 

Indonesia

 

Kenya

 

Laos

 

Maldives

 

Mali

 

Mexico

 

Mozambique

 

Nepal

 

Nicaragua

 

Nigeria

 

Peru

 

Philippines

 

Russia

 

Samoa

 

Serbia

 

Tanzania

 

Vanuatu

 

Venezuela

 

Vietnam

 

All finalists also contributed videos to the DM Channel on YouTube (featured on the upper-right-hand side of this page), and some participated in video interviews that are also included in the Channel.

 

How to Help Least Developed Countries in Climate Crisis

Tom Grubisich's picture

Least Developed Countries, we know, will be heavily impacted by climate change.  Indeed, drought, storm-caused flooding, rising sea levels, and heat waves are already taking their tolls in those 50-some nations.  But LDCs don't have enough resources to adapt adequately to adverse weather that regularly devastates communities and their ecosystems, reinforcing poverty.   The International Institute for Environment and Development details this mounting problem on its website.  It's not just the costs of adaptation for LDCs, but also a shortage of human resources, which, as the Institute says, are needed for "pressing and clearly definable issues such as health, employment, housing and education."

One way out of this bind is what the Institute is doing through its climate-change initiative -- "supporting, increasing and utilising the capacity of development practitioners, government agencies, NGOs and community-based organisations to enhance resilience to climate change."

DM2009 and its finalists are a perfect fit.

The IIED was founded in 1971 by economist Barbara Ward, a pioneer in promoting sustainable development, who frequently wrote about the disparities she saw in global wealth distribution.

The above graphic -- from the IIED -- lists LDCs, including Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which are especially vulnerable to rising sea levels.

'I Explained It to My Daughter, and She Understood'

Tom Grubisich's picture

If Sergio Margulis didn't grow up to be an environmental economist, he could have, no doubt, become an equally successful stand-up comic.  Who else could get some laughs when trying to explain the econometrics of climate-change adaptation?

The occasion was the recent World Bank-sponsored panel discussion on the draft report "The Costs to Developing Countries of Adapting to Climate Change," of which Margulis was co-author.  Of course, Margulis' primary intention wasn't to get his audience to laugh, but to understand a complex but increasingly important issue that's going to occupy global attention for perhaps the rest of the century as developing and developed countries try to put a ceiling on more global warming.

Margulis, Lead Environmental Economist with the World Bank's Environment Department, was joined at the panel by report co-author Urvashi Narain, Senior Environmental Economist at the World Bank; Otaviano Canuto, Vice President and Head of the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) Network at the World Bank, and Warren Evans, Director of the World Bank's Environment Department, who moderated the standing-room-only event.

Here's the video of the discussion.  (Sorry we couldn't embed it.)

DM2009 Winner Sees Public-Private Gap on Climate Adaptation

Carlos Daniel Vecco Giove's picture

In my country of Peru, climate adaptation planning at a national level isn't effective.  In fact, there aren’t any plans to speak of.

It would be great if all civil society groups could help to build an effective national plan that would produce results benefiting people and resources.  But this will require a process, and there is a lot to be done.

This not only a problem for government.  Even among NGOs there are factors that limit the participation of all organizations and people.

In our experience as a small organization, we were able to bring change in a concrete way at the regional level after a long and big effort. Our achievements were ignored during a long time by the main public institutions and big NGO.  Only after 10 years of hard work with scarce resources are we beginning to see results in terms of a change in the attitude of politicians that govern the region.

We are supporting in a very important way the regional political environment. But it is necessary to show how a small project like ours, which is being co-financed by DM2009, will contribute to this objective.

(Vecco [photo above] was team leader on the winning DM2009 finalist project in Peru that  will use its US$200,000 grant to help1,500 indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon better manage their agricultural production systems, protect their forest, and increase their income.)
 

Climate Threats Hit Low-Income Countries Hardest

Tom Grubisich's picture

As the table shows, many low-income countries face the most climate threats, as identified by the World Bank.  A number of the most-threatened countries are also in the Least Developed Countries category, and six of them are in "fragile situations," also as identified by the World Bank.

Among the hundred finalists in the recent DM2009 competition, 26 of them came from most-threatened countries.  Bangladesh, which ranked first among most threatened, had five entries, but no competition winners.

Pledges of Adaptation Collaboration Need a Close Watch

Tom Grubisich's picture

Many developing countries are busy planning to adapt to climate change that is already heavily impacting their people, natural resources, and economies, especially agriculture.   But what actually works in particular countries, and at what cost, are often questions that National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPAs) and other strategies don't adequately answer.
 
To find answers that can be tailored to the conditions of individual developing countries -- there are 130 -- the World Bank is leading a pilot study of climate adaptation in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Samoa, and Vietnam.

The concept note says "overall oversight of study progress" will include, besides the six national governments, "civil society representation."  But some DM2009 finalists say they see little evidence, based on their own experiences, that governments in their countries are serious about collaboration with the private sector.

Successful climate adaptation depends on public-private collaboration, especially on the community level, where so much adaptation integrated with economic development has to take place.  NGOs with strong community roots -- like many of the DM finalists -- can also help close the capacity gap that hampers public programming in developing countries.

DM2009 Finalists and Other NGOs Must Tell Their Story

Tom Grubisich's picture

With global warming heating up, will non-governmental organizations be major players in forging and implementing climate adaptation as developing countries struggle to cope with the adverse effects of climate change on their people, resources, and economies?

The answer should be a no-brainer yes.  Many NGOs -- pre-eminently those that populate the DM2009 finalist roster -- have strong local roots.  Community connections are an essential ingredient of effective climate adaptation action.  But many DM2009 finalists express frustrations in their attempts to collaborate with governments in their countries.  Those frustrations have been detailed in this blog -- here, here, here, and here, among other places.

Maldives DM2009 Finalist Seeks World Bank Help

Fathimath Shafeeqa's picture

The Maldivian Government has received a US$6.3 million grant for climate change adaptation from the European Commssion.  The grant will be administered by the World Bank.  I hope the Bank will inform the Maldivian Finance MInistry, which is handling the funds, about the adaptation work that Live & Learn/Maldives is doing to help protect this especially vulnerable island nation from the adverse affects of climate change -- principally rising sea levels.

As Country Manager of Live & Learn's environmental education operations in the Maldives, one of the 43 Least Developed Countries that have submitted National Adaptation Programs of Action to cope with climate change. I know first hand what our non-profit, non-government organization is doing.  With our expertise and community connections, we can help the Government achieve its adaptation objectives.  Live & Learn/Maldives was a DM finalist with its project to "increase the quality and quantity of local food production, using new techniques resilient to increasing groundwater salinity" caused by rising sea waters.  Innovative Gardening and Education would promote women as leaders in building a sustainable community network spreading the message of "no-till" resilient food production that combats encroaching salinity.

Effective climate adaptation in the Maldives depends on collaboration between the Government and NGOs like Live & Learn.  That isn't happening yet.   DM NGO finalists in other countries are reporting similar problems, as this blog has reported.

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