Making Policy Work For Grassroots: Climate Adaptation in Dryland

Jan 16th, 2013 | By | Category: Advocacy, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Capacity Development, Development and Climate Change, Disaster and Emergency, Disasters and Climate Change, Events, Food, Forest, Governance, Information and Communication, International Agencies, Land, Lessons, Livelihood, News, Resilience, UNFCC-CoP18, UNFCCC, Vulnerability, Weather

WoTR: Recommendation to the Adaptation committee. Adaptation has been given short shrift – in terms of priority, focus, and resources, particularly finance. In spite of the much greater attention on mitigation, it has not delivered; nor is it likely that it will. This makes adaptation even more important an issue. Because of near-inaction on mitigation for the last two decades, we are facing even more calamitous impacts on a large swathe of the world’s population, the overwhelming majority, those in developing countries, from the rural hinterland, whose carbon footprint is what gives the world some breathing space; a population that is not responsible for what is happening, but are the most affected by its impacts.

We have a moral imperative to seize this breathing space, and reverse this process.

Given the extremely slow pace of mitigation, there is that smaller window of time within which we can act, and still retain some semblance of containment and effectiveness.

More fundamentally, the compartmentalized tracks based on the distinctions we make – mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance leads to a dead-end of misplaced, isolated and fragmented policy, – and inaction; it impedes an holistic perspective that encompasses mitigation through adaptation, and more importantly, denigrates the idea of development as a pre-condition for meaningful action on Climate Change.

Adaptation when practised meaningfully holds within it the possibility of a bottom-up approach that integrates

  • local knowledge, wisdom and good practices existing within eco-system based communities, with
  • modern science, technology that builds upon this solid base of local wisdom.

Working together, we have been able to initiate a meaningful set of practices, values and policy inputs that could work towards a new paradigm of development. We need a paradigm that could recreate an organic, relevant and productive process of radical change; and, which could meaningfully interlink the rural, the urban and the global, especially revalorizing ecosystem services, which are largely maintained by local communities.

There are successful methodologies and practices that effectively deliver these results. These need to be scaled up and made relevant to local contexts; not in a prescriptive and standardised mode; but as good practices, from which frameworks can be developed that deliver the promise of equity, dignity and sustainable development.

This is good adaptation policy. A top-down centralised approach that valorises standard norms, regulations and practices cannot deliver. Purposeful inclusion of the voices, aspirations and wisdom of these widespread communities is the only ethical, equitable, democratic choice for meaningful action in the face of Climate Change.

Conclusions, recommendations

  1. The failure on Mitigation impels us to give Adaptation a much greater impetus – in terms of priority, focus, and resources, especially finances. We need to see new, and additional finance, not just in hundreds of millions, but to the tune of tens of billions of USD coming in from 2013.
  2. A purposeful inclusion of the voices, aspirations and wisdom of the vast majority is an ethical,equitable, democratic choice for meaningful and holistic action. This is a difficult task that nonetheless needs to be implemented in spirit and in deed.A large proportion of the financial resources need to go for communities in the drylands of the South – developing countries.
  3. Successful methodologies and practices need to be scaled up and made relevant to local contexts as good practices; not as prescriptions and standards, but as broad frameworks to be adapted and redeveloped to suit local and regional conditions and circumstances. Of this finance, at least 5% needs to be allocated to local and regional research capabilities embedded with the communities.

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Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on Mountains and Climate linked issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last five years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in the Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>

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