14.12.2015 16:44

Adaptation practitioners gather for the Development and Climate days

Unmitigated climate change has the potential to drag 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030, and a staggering 720 million by 2050, said the ODI’s Ilmi Granoff on Saturday. This was the sobering note on which the Development & Climate days opened on Sunday. This year facilitated by the RCCC ,the ODI, the IIED, the CDKN and IDRC, the long-running COP side event took as its theme Zero Poverty, Zero Emissions, bringing together climate change and development practitioners from around the world to discuss practical solutions to adaptation challenges.

Adaptation practitioners gather for the Development and Climate days
Louisa Whitlock, Delegate of the Red Cross

Communication and storytelling

The D&C days are known for breaking down the barriers between speakers and audience, encouraging everyone to participate and interact in a way which is unfortunately not always common at conferences. With games, break-out groups, lightning talks, and, of course, a highly participatory insect-themed session, the importance of communication, both within the event and in our work more broadly was a key theme.

A brainstorming session facilitated by Christian Aid’s Nicola Kelly highlighted the importance of supporting communities to communicate their own experiences of climate change, and using these to ensure that national adaptation approaches take local impacts into consideration. “We need to support communities to get their message out in a targeted manner, and think about who they are communicating with. Too often we end up writing up a dry case study and filing it on a shelf somewhere” she said.

Meanwhile, artist Jorge Martin’s graphical representation of the discussion highlighted the value of pictorial communication. As the weekend progressed his artwork grew and grew, providing an eye-catching summary of some of the key points that came out of the D&C days.

Climate information for climate services

It’s not just communities who need to tell their stories. As the climate becomes more uncertain, it is vitally important that scientists and meteorologists are able to communicate accessibly and effectively with communities, government and civil societies, so that people can take action to prepare themselves for extreme events and disasters.

This may seem obvious, but is easier said than done in many parts of the world where forecasts are either not available, or only accessible in complex and highly technical language. Paula Pacheko of Agua Sustenable in Bolivia talked about the importance of combining scientific forecasts with traditional knowledge in order to reach a warning system that communities are comfortable with.

Providing accessible, actionable forecasts for farmers and helping them plan out how to prepare for extreme weather based on these forecasts is key for resilience. “Building a broad partnership is vital for achieving success – but it takes time” said Berhane Gebru of FHI360, who is working on a project linking farmers with climate service providers and government ministries in Uganda.

Bringing lessons home

The great thing about this event is the sheer variety of expertise on offer: whether your interest lies with equitable access to climate finance, gendered vulnerability in drought-prone communities or the science linking extreme events to climate change, there will be someone else in attendance to link up with, learn from and suggest a new way of thinking about a particular problem.

As the Austrian Red Cross expands its work in climate change, it’s enormously valuable to hear from other adaptation practitioners about how they’ve succeeded in other contexts. We are already doing strong work in partnership building for adaptation in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus, but how can we better include climate services providers to support local adaptation planning?  We worked with a local journalist in Georgia to write articles on local people’s experiences with climate change and disasters: how can we use these two engage more with donors and local authorities? I’m looking forward to working on these issues in more detail in the new year!

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