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Locally led adaptation to climate change comes of age

  • Published at 01:11 pm February 25th, 2021
climate change
Photo: Pixabay

The results of the Gobeshona conference were beyond expectations

Two years ago the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) was set up by a group of governments led by the Netherlands and the leaders of 22 other convening countries including Bangladesh with the former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban ki-Moon as its Chair along with Bill Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Kristalina Georgieva, then CEO of the World Bank and now head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as co-chairs. It also included a large number of Commissioners including the heads of UNDP, UNEP, WMO, etc, and dignitaries from around the world including Dr Muhammad Musa from BRAC Bangladesh. I had the privilege of being associated with the GCA to support its scientific work on the topic of locally-led adaptation. 

 The GCA held a large number of consultations all over the world with many different stakeholders and came out with its flagship report called  'Adapt Now' in September 2019 which was released at the United Nations in New York during the Climate Action Summit held there at that time. The GCA meeting at the UN in New York was chaired by the Prime Minister of the Netherlands along with Ban ki-Moon and Bill Gates and also present were Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh as well as Dr Musa of BRAC and myself. The flagship report identified eight different Adaptation Tracks that would then become part of a Year of Action which would culminate in a Climate Adaptation Summit (CAS) to be hosted in the Netherlands in October 2020. 


“The flagship report identified eight different Adaptation Tracks that would then become part of a Year of Action which would culminate in a Climate Adaptation Summit (CAS) to be hosted in the Netherlands in October 2020”


Unfortunately, because of the Covid-19 pandemic the original date for the CAS had to be postponed to January 25 and 26 of 2021, and instead of an in-person meeting in the Netherlands, it was run as a series of online Anchor Events on the different Action Tracks held across 24 Hours starting with a high-level launch in the Netherlands hosted by their Prime Minister and Ban ki-Moon along with heads of government and ministers from many other countries. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh also spoke on the occasion.  The high-level segment was noteworthy for being the first international speech by John Kerry from the United States of America after being appointed President Biden's Climate Envoy. He gave a powerful speech saying that the US is now back in the Paris Agreement and will be doing its best to also work on adaptation as well as mitigation.

As part of the CAS, an Anchor Event on Locally Led Adaptation (LLA) was hosted by Bangladesh on January 26. It was was inaugurated by the Prime Minister as well as ministers and then had inputs from many other speakers from many different organizations both from Bangladesh and around the world who all pledged to adopt and follow the 8 Principles of LLA that had been developed under the LLA Action Track. In the end, over forty international and national organizations pledged to adopt the principles.


The eight principles of Locally Led-Adaptation by WRI, IIED, BRAC, SDI, GCA PHOTO: Global Resilience Partnership


Just prior to the CAS, we also held the annual Gobeshona conference which was the 7th year for the usual series of Gobeshona conferences which had been held at the Independent University Bangladesh (IUB) every January for the previous six years and was organized by the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD). In previous years we had several hundred people participating over four days with quite a few international participants, but this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic and travel restrictions we decided to hold it as a virtual event and hence also decided to make it into a global event on the theme of LLA. 

When we reached out to our friends around the world inviting them to host and run sessions on their respective adaptation-related activities wherever they were located we got an overwhelming response and finally decided to hold 90 sessions over 24 hours each day, for seven days. This meant for every day we were having 8-hour sessions for the Asia Pacific region, followed by  8 hours for the African and European regions and then the Americas for the third 8 hours each day for seven days. We believe this may be the first such round the world 24/7 virtual event.


“When we reached out to our friends around the world inviting them to host and run sessions on their respective adaptation-related activities wherever they were located we got an overwhelming response and finally decided to hold 90 sessions over 24 hours each day, for seven days”


The results of the Gobeshona conference were beyond our expectations in that we have several thousands of participants from all over the world, not only joining in sessions but also interacting with each other in virtual chat rooms which we provided for them. 

The results were a decision to launch the Gobeshona Network LLA and Resilience and to hold the Gobeshona conference on LLA every January from now on as a virtual global event and not revert back to the in-person format anymore. We also plan to make each annual Gobeshona conference into a review of progress on the ten year journey to promote and enhance locally-led adaptation around the world which was started as a community of learning and practice at the first annual Gobeshona Global Conference on Locally Led Adaptation in January this year.

I was also given the opportunity to present the outcomes of the Gobeshona conference at the CAS Anchor Event on LLA on 26th January to launch the ten-year journey to promote locally led adaptation.

Dr Saleemul Huq is the Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD).

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