Climate change | Blogs

  • Being Young

    Ananta Prasad

    February 17th, 2016

    At least, a smile means something;
    The satisfaction of being the reason of it,
    The happiness to see someone happy,
    The accomplishment of honest efforts,
    The realization of contributing for a cause
    All these matters, all this you count
    When you are young, Young at heart!

    It’s neither the space you work,
    Rather the environment of positivity,
    Which propels you
    Towards goodness and inspires.
    The spirit of an action hero
    To being the saviour
    Not in a dream but by action.
    This is what you fantasise
    This is what makes you Young
    Young at heart.

    1965-2015
    The philosophy of a Visionary
    Visions of Change and prosperity
    Traveled through countries
    Enabling lives better and happier
    Translating the words into action
    Action being real; being Practical.
    Creating comrades of development
    Young Minds and young thoughts,
    Because, we are Young at 50.

    Lights, life and Livelihood
    Water, toilet and self-respect
    Disaster, fights and self-sustain
    Agriculture and caring the climate
    Its power to you, energising lives
    In-hand with Tech-Justice
    Hopes multiplied and lives dignified.
    Aging is just a myth.
    We are 50, Young at heart.

    IMG_6262 (Cópia)

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  • Technology Justice is critical to reduce risk for the poorest

    Colin McQuistan

    February 7th, 2016

    Technology can greatly enhance the ability of disaster-affected communities to reduce their risk thus preventing natural hazards turning into human disasters.

    Technology has driven our development. Key technological innovations have heralded revolutions in the way we interact with the environment, but this drive for development has now started to threaten our future. Many scientists are proposing that we have now entered a new epoch “The Anthropocene”. This started when human activities began to have a significant impact on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems. Climate change is a symptom of the anthropocene, as unsustainable consumption of fossil fuels threatens the future viability of this planet as a home for us and future generations.

    technology

    The consequences of this global imbalance is felt most by those who are least responsible for causing the problem in the first place. Climate change threatens to deprive poor people of their livelihoods, damage infrastructure, lower productivity and ignite social tensions. The response to climate change will consume resources that could otherwise be directed towards productive activities, and can wipe out years of development in seconds. Humanitarian assistance often arrives too late, when loss and damage has already occurred. Practical Action believes that the goal of development should be to create sustainable wellbeing for all, wellbeing that is resilient and not easily eroded by external shocks and stresses. We must not rely on humanitarian response alone. Communities that are most vulnerable to the impacts of changing climate should be prioritised for action and under the Paris agreement technology will be central to how the global community responds to climate change. But the way in which technology is accessed, innovated and used is critical to the effectiveness of this response, especially for communities who face extreme or recurrent natural hazards.

    Technologies exist that have the potential to reduce the exposure of poor and vulnerable populations around the world, but technologies are either not rolled out or are not functioning to provide communities with usable information about their risk. Technologies can manifest in different ways to alter community risk. Technology is central to monitoring risk exposure and technology is central to support people to respond to risk. But poor communities continue to be hit by regular disasters with no advance warning. What are the underlying conditions that create this disconnect between technology and vulnerability?

    technology tramsformation

    It is clear that access to technology and its benefits are not equally shared. The current innovation system is not working. Without change, it will continue to drive injustice, inequality and lead to avoidable damage and destruction. It is time to overhaul how technology and its innovation are governed, in order to ensure the wellbeing of all people and the planet.

    Technology Justice Call to Action

    Be part of a movement for Technology Justice. Check out our call and be part of the change!

    • http://www.anthropocene.info/
    • http://policy.practicalaction.org/acalltoaction

     

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  • Global commitment to reduce carbon and fund adaptation

    Sam Owilly

    December 15th, 2015

    The historic moment finally came on Saturday 13 December 2015, with the adoption of the Paris Agreement.

    Agreement signedWhile every party was not able to get all their demands, overall the agreement is a good balance between the different positions of the negotiating groups and a commendable outcome of the process. The consensus suits the diverse legal structures of the parties thus improving the odds for speedy ratification.

    There is much to be done to make the document perfect but even more so to implement the various provisions of the legal instrument and the decisions. One of the most exciting aspects to me is the recognition of adaptation as a global priority and the commission of all countries to communicate their adaptation actions thus making adaptation a global priority.

    The further commitment towards putting global warming below 1.5°C to accompany the current hard limit of 2°C is another really big plus especially for the African group which stood firmly on this warming ambition target, benchmarking domestic climate commitments set out in the submitted  Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). This presents a balanced priority on mitigation and adaptation, further augmented by the decision for all countries to communicate their adaptation actions while also reporting on their mitigation activities and support, both given and received.

    Gaps on Loss and Damage and climate finance

    flooding in BangladeshThe agreement however leaves a lot of gaps on Loss and Damage.  It excludes liability or compensation for losses and damages even though it directs countries to create a special process to address those that stem from unavoidable climate impacts which overwhelm the limits of adaptation, following the procedures laid out in the Warsaw International Mechanism.

    A similar dilemma is in the climate finance element where despite the pledge of an annual minimum $100 billion from developed countries by 2020, it is not yet clear which finance mechanism will be used. However the shared vision is that this may be through the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and/or Least Developed Countries Fund which essentially are the financial decision making bodies of the COP. The Adaptation Fund may eventually be part of the GCF but that’s for us to wait and see. It also not yet clear what the determinants of the $100b floor target are as it is not backed by any scientific or technical ground. So whether it will be enough or too little is hard to say at this stage.

    Ambitious and broad INDCs, especially for the African countries that submitted individual targets, will need to inform national development agendas to be consistent with the agreement. Donors and supporting countries have further pledged to support a climate proof development agenda, reinforcing the need have a climate lens in planning for development in all the sectors where Practical Action works.  This can already be seen with the DFID SUED programme for example.

    The GCF  and the Adaptation Fund have also pledged to work on improving their efficiency and opportunities for direct access. Coupled to this is a great commitment towards green energy in Africa as well as opportunities that create wealth, generate jobs and multiply the capital injected.

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  • A New Hope?

    Colin McQuistan

    December 13th, 2015

    It was almost 10pm in Paris, as a tired looking Laurent Fabius, the French Foreign Minister, said “I see no objections”, barely glancing at the rows of country delegates packing the room, then sharply banged his gavel bring the Paris Agreement to life. After more than 20 years of negotiations by 196 countries, a global climate deal had finally been sealed. On Saturday 12th December 2015, rich and poor countries alike agreed to differ, but in the process adopted 31 pages of dense, legal text which, just possibly, could set the world on a different, cleaner, safer, development path.

    History

    In recognition of climate change as a symptom of unsustainable development, the world met in Paris over the last two weeks to negotiate the text for a new global climate agreement to combat the threat of climate change and indirectly put development on a more sustainable pathway. At several moments during the last few days such an agreement appeared impossible, but finally after an extension of one day the Paris Agreement was struck.

    Agreement signedThe French delegation along with UN Sec Gen Ban Ki-Moon and Christiana Figueres celebrate the moment

    So what is in the agreement?  The Paris Agreement aims to limit global temperature increases to at most 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit them to 1.5°C, recognising that this would significantly reduce risks and the impact of climate change. The agreement also established a system to review each country’s emissions every five years, and conduct regular global “stocktakes” of the targets. To facilitate the process the developed countries have committed to provide $100 billion a year of finance by 2020 to support developing countries. So with a target, a longer term ambition and a mechanism to monitor and “ratchet up” ambition every five years, the basics have been put in place to reverse decades of fossil fuel dependency.

    During the closing speeches the role of civil society in the successful outcome of the deal was recognised by many of the parties attending. Civil society organisations, such as Practical Action who participated in many of the annual meetings and sub-committees, were recognised for their contribution to the debate, especially their assistance to developing country delegations. Presentations made at side panels and questions asked of country delegations help to highlight the challenges faced by the poorest and most vulnerable. This interaction helps to put a human face on what can become faceless negotiations. But in addition to our project experience civil society will also have a key role to play to ensure the political promises are delivered. Organisations such as Climate Tracker, that monitor governments performance in decarbonisation and reforestation using global monitoring systems, are vital to hold governments to account on their climate actions.

    Overall the Paris Agreement sets us on a new path, hopefully one that is not only more sustainable, but one that is fair, just and equitable. The global fall in oil prices may finally be bringing home the message that we need a new global system and a new economic model. The fall probably has more to do with over production, falling demand and a glut in stored capacity, than the ramifications of the agreement in Paris, but the #Keepitintheground campaign among others highlighted the risks we are taking.  Financial resources and research capacity should be focused not on fracking and identifying new fossil fuel reserves, but instead at answering the challenges of renewable energy storage and distribution, necessary to achieve the Paris Agreement goals.

    powerforalllights

    We need to start to thinking outside the box. Our current economic structures and processes were designed by thinkers who lived over a century ago; that world no longer exists. The agreement signed on Saturday has changed this world, by establishing a finite barrier of temperature increase. This agreement must send a clear message to investors, businesses and citizens that the fossil fuel age is over. We must ensure the transition to renewable energy is made as quickly as possible, and ensure this is done in a way that does not limit the development aspirations of those less fortunate than ourselves. As our founder said over half a century ago “Infinite growth of material consumption in a finite world is an impossibility” E. F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful.

    Increased action is needed to achieve universal energy access before 2030

     

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  • Coping with frequent flooding

    Katharine Wrigley

    December 11th, 2015

    The weather is always a great conversation topic for us here in the UK.  And when it is as extreme as Storm Desmond in the north of England, our hearts go out to those affected. But listening on the radio this morning to Marcus Davidson of Corbridge in Northumbria, I couldn’t help comparing his experience with those of families in Bangladesh.

    Shaylo and her son Gias are just one of hundreds of thousands of families in Bangladesh living with the everyday reality of devastating floods.  Not just once, but almost every year.  They’ve moved five times, not because they were moving into a nicer part of town or so they could have an extra bedroom; but because the floods have destroyed their home.

    I really can’t imagine what it must be like to rebuild your home on what seems to be an annual basis; and not just the functional structure of a house, it’s all the other bits that make it your home. The little trinkets that are filled with memories: the drawing your child has brought home from school where you kind of look like a potato – but you don’t mind because it was a present from them to you, so you love it anyway. How do you start over again and again with all that? And climate change will make these events more frequent.

    The experience of losing your home and personal treasures to flooding is equally bad for families in England and in Bangladesh. It is in the aftermath that make things are so much worse for Shaylo.  She has no insurance or savings, there is little local authority support or helpful service providers to help her get her back on her feet.  She is reliant on the support of her community, most of whom are as poor as she is.

    Shaylo Balo, 50, Bangladesh

    IMG_0670

    Marital status: Widow

    Job: Labourer, seasonal

    Dependents: Gias, aged 14

    An average working day for Shaylo involves some physical labour during the harvest season. She could be cutting mud for roads or husking peanuts, and will take home 80 taka (less than £1) for a 12 hour day.

    Shaylo usually gets one meal a day, consisting of potatoes or rice. Like any mother would, Shaylo often gives up that meal to make sure Gias is getting enough food.

    Shaylo is expecting this year to move for the sixth time in six years. Her home is usually built using materials left behind from the floods, and she and Gias will do the work to rebuild themselves.

    flooding

     

    ff

     

    How can we help these families get themselves out of this desperate situation?

    InfographicWhat on earth can you grow in sand left behind by floods? This summer, despite having perfect soil and great weather conditions for them, I failed miserably at growing some courgettes. I say growing, but what I really mean is replanting a courgette plant from a pot into my garden. Anyway, the fruits of my labour were pitiful and barely worth mentioning. So, again I ask – what can you grow in sand?

    As a charity focused on using really simple technology for problems just like this, Practical Action has a solution. Pumpkins. Yep, that’s right. The humble pumpkin is the hero of this story, usually only brought out for Halloween or Thanksgiving, to be carved or turned into a pie, and no doubt thrown away afterwards. Pumpkins grow really well in sand. Not only that, they then provide the much needed nourishment families in Bangladesh are struggling to get – and can also provide a source of income for them. What’s more, the seeds can be regrown, so it’s a long-term, sustainable solution to the problem.

    £38.26 is all it takes to give a family everything they need to start growing their own pumpkins in Bangladesh. Less than £40. I’ve been known to spend twice that on my vain attempts to de-frizz my hair, or on a new pair of shoes that have some kind of sparkly element to them. Less than £40 can change lives in Bangladesh.

    I would urge you to read more about this wonderfully simple solution and about how you can help to change their lives, and really know you’ve helped someone who needed it.

    Make your donation here

    UK-AID-Donations&flag-RGBThe UK Government will be matching your donations, pound for pound up until 31 December, so if you donate now, your impact will be doubled – and the number of people that can be helped will be doubled too.

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  • COP21 – some progress and some unanimity

    Sam Owilly

    December 9th, 2015

    It’s been a busy time at COP21 for the Kenya (and Africa) delegation. We had the African CSO’s ‘demonstration’ demands on adaptation finance – a push informed by the apparent exclusion of adaptation financing from the ADP negotiation text and the obvious lack of commitment from annex 1 countries’ commitment to adaptation.

    This was followed by a high level side event on opportunities and actions in developing countries where Prof Judy Wakhungu presented on lessons from Kenya.

    On Africa Day, A host of MP’s, Governors and senior government officials from Kenya attended and key highlights include:

    • Norway, USA and UK have signed an MoU to cooperate on private sector engagement in addressing climate change issues
    • All sectors (agriculture, water, education, transport etc.) are required to mainstream climate change and all sectoral financing is required to be climate smart.
    • There is a likely to be a financing gap on adaptation. We will need to leverage on other finance instruments to meet adaptation needs (this is still a big debate here)
    • Kenya finally passed the National Climate Change Bill last week – it is awaiting presidential assent.
    • Kenya government focus on improving forest and land use management

    So far the greatest achievement has been to pull some of the developed nations into the 1.5° C warming target and the acknowledgement of climate smart actions across all sectors is indeed a big plus.

    There is progress and (dare I say it!) some unanimity on low carbon and climate resilient development pathways at COP21.   The biggest hurdles remain clarity on climate financing instruments and mechanisms for supporting adaptation and other means of implementation.

    Africa reiterated their position for parity between Adaptation and Mitigation on Africa Day.  The demand was for operationalization of their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) through clear and binding means of implementation, technology transfer, finance and capacity building.

    Of direct importance to us is the commitment by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to prioritize renewable energy and agriculture and establish a transformational budget of at least $5 billion a year for the next five years to support implementation of the African INDC’s. There is a likelihood of great opportunities for co-investment with private sector ‘and governments’  in exploring and taking advantage of this financing instrument.

    children in school with solar lightingThere’s also a big plus in having 53 (out of 54) African countries to have submitted their INDCS  (only Libya have not).  These are expected to re-define the national development plans and more specifically sectoral investments especially in agriculture, energy, forestry, transport and infrastructure. This fits well within our Agro-ecology and renewable energy aspirations. The EAC actually gave a commitment of setting up an East Africa Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency under the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative  and modelled around such a centre within the ECOWAS.

    It was also a big day for the Adaptation Fund, with the commitment and pledges of financing from:

    • Sweden: 17 Million Euros
    • Germany: 50 Million Euros
    • Italy: 2 Million Euros
    • Belgium : 1 Million Euro

    This is a positive shot at addressing the increasing adaptation needs and enabling more effective delivery of adaptation programmes considering that the sustainable future of the Adaptation Fund is not yet assured. Next week we will be meeting under the Adaptation Fund NGO network to provide suggestions to the Board on how to make this fund more accessible and effective. The mechanisms so far in place have made it very obscure thus relegating its importance in the climate finance negotiations and commitments.

    Later today I will be attending the Green Climate Fund side event to pick on the plans for 2016 and also the AMCEN meeting to review the draft agreement text and hope to feedback tomorrow.

     

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  • COP21 Paris update

    Colin McQuistan

    December 8th, 2015

    Week 2 Day 2; UN Climate Change Conference, are we there yet?

    With 48 hours left to reach agreement on the text for a climate change agreement the atmosphere in Paris is mixed with some believing an agreement will be reached, while many are worried that it will not be robust enough to deliver. The negotiations started on a high note with 150 heads of state making bold statements outlining the urgency of action and the potential threat if we fail to tackle climate change. Many leaders highlighted the importance of international cooperation and the need to stand by the poorest and most vulnerable as they face the consequences of changing climates.

    DC NS

    David Cameron made an opening address and Nicola Sturgeon spoke at a side event on Scotland’s commitments

    The numerous side events supported by parties and observers have highlighted the consequences of inaction on climate change.  We have heard from poor people in coastal areas whose livelihoods have been disrupted by powerful cyclones and fish stocks decimated by ocean acidification. In the negotiations the small island states have eloquently reported on the migration challenge they face as sea level rise threatens their land.  Poor farmers from Africa, Asia and Latin America have taken to the podium to speak about the loss of their crops due to failure of rains or harvests decimated by unknown outbreaks of pests and diseases. The 5th report of the IPCC documents the scientific basis for climate change, unfortunately this report also highlights that we are not all equally impacted, that not everyone has access to the resources and services to respond when disaster strikes.

    So given the recognised urgency and apparent political will why is an agreement at risk?  Key challenges remain around differentiation, finance and means of implementation.  Differentiation is recognition that not everyone is equally responsible for the mess we are in. If we take historical emissions into account the developed world is responsible for at least 60% of global emissions. The recent economic development in nations such as China and India is adding to the global carbon budget, so what is needed now is a mechanism whereby some nations reduce emissions quickly to provide enough carbon space for developing economies to eradicate extreme poverty and meet their development potential. To resolve differentiation needs equity to allocate fair shares of the carbon budget.  For countries that have used their carbon budget in the past they will have less in the future and vice-versa. This would allow every country to know their limits and thus develop clear targets on mitigation – developed or developing – in their national development plans.

    Finance is potentially the biggest hurdle to an agreement by Friday. The historic failure of the developed economies to meet previous promises and lack of clarity on future promised finance threaten to derail an agreement. If the leaders were honest about international cooperation the developed world need to be clear on its commitment to help those who are not to blame for the present climate problem. One simple way to achieve this goal would be to cancel subsidies to fossil fuels. The International Energy Agency tells us that to keep to 2oC target – as agreed in Copenhagen – we need to keep 2/3 of all know fossil fuels in the ground.  So why do we continue to invest billions to identify new fossil fuel deposits and why are we wasting money on fracking?

    Dollar Bill

    Means of implementation includes the legal mechanism, how the agreement will be monitored and enforced and the issue of loss and damage. The agreement needs to describe a process that delivers the finance and support necessary so that we stay on track. In particular the agreement must have checks and balances to ensure that the most vulnerable are not left behind.

     

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  • Climate change – the last call?

    Margaret Gardner

    December 6th, 2015

    Not a history lesson but a reminder of the urgency of moving from talk to practical action.

    In 1972 a group of scientists at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology – a highly respected US university) published a report ‘The last call’.  In it they argued that the planets resources were finite and we were getting close to the limit.  We could slow down, change course, find a new pattern to our existence slowly or continue as now eventually leading to catastrophic change.

    Whichever way change was coming.

    A few months ago I sat in the House of Commons and watched a film about the report and what followed. The Club of Rome published a book called ‘The Limits to Growth’ which sold 30 million copies. President Carter embraced the idea and talked to the American people about change. But President Reagan who followed revoked the idea, insisting growth was good, growth was essential to the American way of life.

    Forty plus years on it was a history lesson. But in some ways the Carter – Reagan tension continues played out on a bigger, now global scale.

    Change is happening.

    flooding in BangladeshFor many poor communities catastrophic change is already happening with the increased frequency and strength of cyclones, more flooding, more drought. In Ethiopia they are facing the worst drought for 30 years. In Zimbabwe when I was there earlier this year I heard people talking about changes in rainfall patterns that were devastating harvests.

    In the UK this weekend in the North of England and Scotland we’re experiencing severe flooding. And over the past decade in the UK we’ve seen record breaking rainfall (and our records go back to 1879). It’s impossible to link any individual severe weather event with climate change – but these increases in the severity of rain i.e. harder, more intense rainfall, tie in with the predicted impacts.

    The reality is that poorest and therefore most vulnerable people – whether in the developing world or in the UK – feel the impact of climate change first and hardest . We need to take action.

    The Time for Change is now.

    The perceived tension between protecting our planet and economic growth continues to polarise the climate change debate. But if we grow in a way that destroys our ability to inhabit our planet – how does that make sense?

    As world leaders gather in Paris for the UNFCCC meeting I read in the press that there’s optimism a deal can be agreed – not enough to keep warming below the vital limit of 2 degrees but a step in the right direction.

    I also read that we may have hit a peak in emissions.

    And that renewable energy is now outperforming fossil fuels.

    Maybe change is starting?

    But for change to happen it needs to move beyond political agreement

    Agreement in Paris will be a first step in the right direction. But even if there is agreement the ‘devil will be in the detail.’  Fine words are relatively easy but implementation more difficult – and sometimes easy to ignore, or just too difficult to make happen.

    So sadly to repeat the words of MIT 43 years ago – change is coming, it will happen, we can plan or we can have it forced upon us but the days of choice are getting shorter and the human stakes much higher.

    I believe that if we care about poverty reduction, about people and our planet, we will make immediate, deep and binding change happen now. And plan so that what I hope will be the amazing rhetoric of the UNFCCC conference, the great agreement becomes experienced reality.

    This next week is a time of opportunity – lets hope our world leaders step up and make change happen.

     

     

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  • From adaptation to mitigation at COP21

    Chris Henderson

    December 4th, 2015

    Week 1 – agriculture and adaptation

    COP21 got off to a rousing start, with some inspirational speeches by heads of state and world leaders. The objective was to inspire and guide the negotiators, however, the promises made appear to have been quickly dampened by national interests resulting in slower than expected progress, and even weakened options.

    Terrace training Shagra A Nairobi Work Programme

    The first week was dominated by matters concerning agriculture, forests, pastoralism and risk and adaptation. The Nairobi Work Programme on Adaptation (NWP), which feeds adaptation learning into SBSTA, the Subsiduary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice, discussed and presented a range of case studies for successful approaches to adaptation.

    But simply putting case studies on websites is totally insufficient. NWP, SBSTA and their members need to facilitate genuine knowledge transfer systems, which can ensure that all stakeholders, including smallholder famers, can access and utilise this knowledge for effective and inclusive climate change adaptation.

    The need for Technology Justice

    Parties remain cautious over agriculture and its potential to disrupt the negotiations. Factors underpinning this anxiety include concerns about developed nations expecting agriculture to be used for mitigation, and the need – and right – of developing nations to have unrestricted development of their food systems and land use. We continue to advocate for Technology Justice to inform all these decisions. In agriculture, this means greater use of agroecological practices and systems approaches (knowledge and markets) to ensure a just transition for developing countries.

    Human Rights Sidelined

    Ultimately, the revised draft text released earlier this week is a negative development. The removal of human rights language from the main text to the non-binding preamble undermines the notion of the expected agreement being rooted in justice for all global populations, both now and in the future. This is likely to be a major debate over the coming days as civil society pushes back against this development.

    Week 2 – mitigation and energy

    Solar energy in NepalAccelerating energy access

    The focus in week 2 moves from adaptation and agriculture, to mitigation and energy. While much of the focus is likely to be on the big-emitting nations and technologies, Practical Action will be calling for negotiators to recognise and prioritise the importance of the agreement in shaping future energy access approaches for the 2 billion under-served poor populations globally. This is the biggest opportunity of the century to help developing countries leapfrog towards clean, renewable energy technologies, with a focus on decentralised energy systems to reach the poorest and most marginalised communities.

    Gender and social justice

    The second week is also the key moment for gender with Tuesday 8th December, gender and climate change day.  This is late to influence the negotiations, although if negotiations are progressing slowly the events held on this day may still be able to mobilise political will.  The negotiations are stalled currently due to a failure to reach agreement on gender.

    What is clear is that the agreement must tackle inequality and put climate justice, human rights and gender equality at the heart of the new climate deal. Climate change is a gross social injustice exacerbating inequality and burdening poor people with impacts that they did little to create. We are not going to eradicate poverty and injustice without tackling equity in all its forms.

    Resources
    Other relevant blogs

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  • Flood early warning systems save lives and reduce losses

    Mokhlesur Rahman

    December 1st, 2015

    Despite making significant progress in social development, Bangladesh remains at high risk of natural disasters like flood, river erosion, cyclones, tidal surges and drought. Due to changing climate, all these are expected to increase in intensity and frequency. In addition, temperature, erratic monsoon rainfall, sea level and salinity intrusion are all expected to increase which will have a severe impact on lives, livelihoods and food security, particularly for poor people in Bangladesh. Thus, working to help them adapt is a key step. As grassroots development professional, I see there is a gap and international actors have much more to do. We expect COP21 will highlight some of these issues.

    Our efforts on adaptation

    flooding in SiragonjWe have been working with poor communities to strengthen their ability to use technology to cope with threats of natural disasters and environmental degradation. One of the many approaches is to focus on improving vulnerable communities’ ability to prepare for natural disasters so that they can survive and rebuild lives and livelihoods after disasters. Working through a project titled From Vulnerability to Resilience: Capitalizing on Public Investment‘, funded by Zurich Foundation, in Sirajganj district. The project tries to improve resilience capacities of 52,942 households of 15 flood-vulnerable Unions by effective use of weather forecasts, flood early warnings and technological innovations and improved disaster governance. Recently, we conducted a monitoring visit to understand the level of impact and how people are adapting. I came across two examples from the project that really impressed me and which I would like to share with experts of the field which might serve as food for thought.

    CASE1: Simple Information can save life and reduce loss

    Abul Hossain is a 60 year old poor farmer from Belkuchi Upazila of Sirajganj district. He is a dyeing worker but also works as day labourer in the agriculture sector. He has 4 sons and 3 daughters. He does not have enough cultivatable land to provide a livelihood for family members. He has 3 cows and 4 goats as alternative means of livelihood. His house is close to the Jamuna river and every year his house is affected by flooding, so during monsoon he is scared. In previous years, his house was damaged by flood. Thus, he had to leave house with his cattle and goats to take shelter on higher land. But, this year, he was alerted by an early warning message from a local volunteer.  On 10 August 2015, he received a message that informed him flooding was coming in 5 days. So, following the instructions of the volunteer, he raised his cattle plinth. As a result, his cattle were saved and unaffected from the flood.

    CASE2: Early SMS saved to decide
    18964Anisur Rahman is a farmer of Kaliahoripur Union of Sirajgonj, who lives near the flood prone river Jamuna. On the land he got from his parents he cultivates various seasonal crops. Beside crops cultivation, he also has a small pond when he breeds fish during rainy season. If luck favours him, he gets a good harvest; sometimes the floods take away all his fish. Some indigenous fish also  enter into the pond what he uses for his family consumption. This year in August 2015 he received a short message by mobile phone from Bangladesh Water Development Board, brought to him by project volunteer, Asanur Begum. The message informed that over the coming 5 days there was a possibility of the water rising. Swiftly,  he caught the maximum number of fish from his pond and sold them in the nearby market.  After he sold the fish, he saw his pond overflow with flood water.  For Anisur this simple message saved his livelihood.

    Conclusion

    Natural disasters cause extensive loss and damage to the lives and livelihoods of people living in flood prone areas like Sirajganj district of Bangladesh. On one hand, we need to continue and strengthen our efforts to prevent natural disasters.We also need to innovate technology and its application so that people can reduce damage and loss. Localized early warning messages offer one such effective technological application which has been very effective for reducing disaster loss and damage to disaster prone areas of Bangladesh.

    Can we expect a global agreement will give more attention to this area and help climate vulnerable people to better adapt?

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