An international conference in Bangladesh has strongly recommended helping communities in developing countries to adapt the impact of climate change.
According to a press statement issued here yesterday by the London-based policy centre—International Institute for Environment and Development, over 300 participants from 60 countries attended the 5th international conference on community based adaptation to climate changes in Dhaka this week.
The conference ended with calls for a scientific analysis on adaptation at community level, better communication of what works and involvement of a broad-section of members of the public.
Atiq Rahman of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, which co-organised the conference, said: “It had been a milestone of intense interaction between scientists, practitioners, policy-makers, NGOs and government representatives. Looking back it has been a great journey of excitement and better development of understanding."
The conference included three days of field trips to see how communities were already adapting to threats such as prolonged droughts and floods. They were followed by a formal conference with 21 sessions that included methods and tools to different sectors like agriculture, water and ecosystems.
"Bangladesh is a living laboratory for adaptation to climate changes," said Saleemul Huq. "People here are already developing ways to make their communities more resilient to extreme weather and rising temperatures. The conference focused on how to take the many lessons that are emerging at a local level like this, and scale them up so that they can bring benefits across the planet."
The conference attracted more academic researchers than ever before, a sign that community-based adaptation was becoming easier to define, measure and analyse in ways that could bring value to global efforts to protect people from the impact of climate changes.
Participants plan to publish a peer-reviewed book of their findings to help raise the profile of the science of community-level adaptation in the next IPCC report to be released in 2014.
"So far, there has not been a lot about community-based adaptation in the academic literature and we are trying to fill that gap," Huq said.
Participants also spoke of the need to engage more people in community-based adaptation, having already attracted, first, development workers and, second, academics.
"We need to identify incentives for the private sector to support adaptation at community level and we need to involve governments, youth groups and faith based organisations," said Huq.
"The final element is to spread our knowledge. We have to be better at communicating from what NGOs and other practitioners learn on the ground and better at supporting communities and drawing out lessons from their activities."
Communication will be a central theme of next year's conference to take place in Vietnam.