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More than one way to save the planet

  • Published at 07:51 pm May 27th, 2019
Climate Tribune_May 2019_Pg 4 & 5
Photo: Courtesy

Paths to Climate Change Adaptation

Adaptation in the context of climate change is adapting to changes as per the projected impacts and effects on the natural system, with the focus of minimising the harm on human life. Climate change impacts are not limited to any region and more importantly, vulnerable countries are expected to face an unprecedented level of impacts. Considering this, adaptation measures become fundamental for developing and least developed countries, with the vast population of poor people living with minimum facilities, social benefits and education. 

Community-based adaptation (CBA) in part is significant as it focuses on the communities as the centre point and Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) aims at restoration of natural resources, conservation and ecosystem management. Together, both the approaches include livelihood resilience, conservation and development.

An inclusive plan for climate change adaptation

Community-based adaptation (CBA) supports local communities to become more resilient in adapting to the impacts of climate change. CBA is essential for empowering communities to plan and implement projects and respond to the needs of the communities. The aim of CBA is to reduce vulnerability and increase the adaptive capacity of the local people, who need assistance in tackling the impacts of climate change and adapt gradually.    

CBA in the adaptation front plays a major role, as the impacts of climate change are inevitable. Flood, droughts and other calamities are mostly affecting the poorest people with minimum living conditions and limited services. Whereas the impacts of climate change can be already observed affecting the lives of people, in the future, climate change adversities will pose greater hazards. 

Thus, the preparedness of the communities at large is requisite; increasing the adaptive capacity of the local community needs to be enhanced and the role of CBA is central to fulfil these requirements. The national policies and programs emphasise on building resilience through CBA programs and specifically for the most vulnerable countries, where adaptation is vital, such as in the context of Bangladesh. CBA involves small-scale projects to support the communities and enforce practices that would assist in adjusting to the consequences of climate change. 

Project implementation under CBA programmes have one focal point—focusing on the communities. Hence, the relationship with the communities should be enriched and develop the understanding of the necessities. As well as ensuring the success of the programmes requires gaining trust and confidence of the affected people for the programmes to be successful and for expanding the scope of the CBA projects.

Strengthening the broader objective

Ecosystems provide a wide range of services that supports nature and provides socio-economic development, on which the communities rely upon for livelihood dependence. Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) is an essential measure to conserve and sustain the ecosystem services, to minimise the impacts of climate change and help to adapt to maintain the natural system that ultimately supports well being of people. If Ecosystem-based adaptation was implemented alongside Community Based Adaptation programmes on a smaller scale; involving local communities in a particular area, helping them manage and restore the ecosystem as part of the adaptation.

In case of EbA, the use of traditional knowledge and the interdependence between the natural resources and people needs to be considered. Local communities’ dependence on ecosystem services has not been the only issue, but the requirement and utilisation have increased with the development processes, which might not include the requirements of the poor people on a broader framework of policy implementation. 

Subsequently, development for local communities should promote nature-based solutions with certain economic incentives, as well as managing the resources. Emphasis on understanding the small projects on EbA and more importantly simplifying the whole process for ecosystem management and sustainable use could be considered in a broader capacity building program.

The harmony of two approaches

Community Based Adaptation (CBA) is significant in tackling climate change impacts, as it helps in understanding the impacts on the communities. On the other hand, managing the diverse ecosystem and promoting nature-based solutions through Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) add to the adaptation strategies and strengthening the local level resilience efforts. 

CBA is comprehensive and it helps in determining the interventions needed for supporting the communities to adapt. Integration of EbA within CBA through various pilot programs could be applied in areas such as the Sundarbans. These sorts of programmes would be beneficial and cost-effective for restoring the natural ecosystem and promoting sustainable use of resources. 

Moreover, Knowledge management, capacity building and influencing the policy level transformations are necessary for empowering the communities and enabling them with their rights so they can successfully contribute to decision-making. It could also be understood as mainstreaming climate change adaptation, integrating a variety of components and measures in building capacity of the communities and for all-inclusive development integrating EbA through CBA projects. EbA could also help in assessing social, economic and environmental credibility and effectiveness of CBA programs. In this sense, EbA is an extension of CBA initiatives, which gives effect in achieving the strategic ideas. 

A UNDP case study in Nepal, Peru and Uganda shows that CBA programs with the interventions of EbA were cost-effective and reinforced the broader aim of CBA. The cost-effectiveness of EbA programs appears to be more economically viable in the longer term. However, the EbA practices have been applied for mountains program. 

Applying EbA within CBA, as a natural based technique for climate change adaptation is more cost-effective in empowering the communities. A better prospect for this could be by establishing synergies between climate change adaptation on community livelihood with dependence and EbA methods, focusing on resilience with economic gain through the projects to align the objectives of both CBA and EbA. Also, identifying the barriers with the implementation of plans and what the interventions need to focus on.

EbA under the broad area of CBA would be beneficial for resilience towards the climate risks at present and in the future. Every CBA project would have a learning experience depending on the success and problems associated with it, which could be utilised in building capacity of the people at a later stage, and for implementation of the projects, as well as influence the policy level changes. 

Mainstreaming climate change adaptation would require an all-inclusive CBA approach to help the local people. As well as, national to the regional government level incorporation of strategies and policies, efficient knowledge management, research to accelerate programs and link the institutions with the local communities to fulfil the gaps.

Ambalika Singh is a visiting Researcher at ICCCAD and holds a LL.M. in Global Environment and Climate Change Law from the University of Edinburgh.