Last month’s Community-Based Adaptation (CBA7) conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh provided a great introduction to the myriad of issues, systems, and people at play in climate change adaptation research today. Having just arrived in Dhaka a few weeks prior to the conference as a visiting researcher with ICCCAD, this was an excellent opportunity for me to learn about adaptation research and actions taking place across the globe, and connect with interested academics, practitioners, and government officials. It also provided a great venue to meet with other researchers who are also involved in the issue of climate change-related loss and damage.
A working definition of loss and damage related to the impacts of climate change
While the term “Loss and Damage” has no concrete definition within the UNFCCC process, it is a rapidly growing issue area that is expected to play a growing role in upcoming COP negotiations. Since the UNFCCC established a formal loss and damage programme at COP 18 in Doha, there has been a surge of research and interest in this issue. Between now and COP 19 in Paris, where international institutional arrangements for loss and damage are expected to be finalised, there is a great deal that remains to be decided regarding how this issue should be addressed on a global scale.
At CBA7, myself and two other members of ICCCAD’s loss and damage team (Anna Hasemann and project coordinator Erin Roberts) held an open meeting with other conference attendees who are working on or interested in this evolving subject. Speaking with government officials, academics, and non-profit workers from South Africa, Bangladesh, the USA, and Germany, it was clear that there were many different – and often complimentary – areas of interest and research. This meeting was undoubtedly a catalyst for future encounters at other global fora, and I look forward to more get-togethers with this ever-growing network of people engaged in this unique dimension of climate change.
Additionally, our team had the chance to meet with our other members of the loss and damage consortium that we’ve been working with on a project called the Loss and Damage in Vulnerable Countries Initiative. Speaking with our friends from Germanwatch and the UN University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security about how to move this issue forward made for stimulating conversation, and it was exciting to think about where this issue is aheaded in the months and years to come. It was especially nice to finally meet my colleague from Germanwatch, whom I’d been collaborating with extensively in the weeks leading up to the conference.
Aside from these interesting and insightful conversations, there were a number of other things about the conference that I thought were really cool.
• Throughout the conference, CARE Climate Change’s Agnes Otzelberger solicited answers from participants on “What CBA can learn from gender mainstreaming,” then posted photographs of people with their response online.
• Pablo Suarez – seen here talking about how games can enhance knowledge dissemination – hosted a very engaging workshop using games to illustrate some of the difficult choices that climate change-affected communities have to face.
• One of the most interesting sessions I attended was called “Human rights, equity and the legal aspects of climate change adaptation,” which was opened by former Irish Prime Minister Mary Robinson, who now heads the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice.
Overall, CBA7 provided me with a great opportunity to learn about the wide variety of angles and approaches that people are exploring to help improve the lives and livelihoods of those most affected by climate change. Beyond that, I met some friendly, intelligent people, and made some great connections and potential collaborators for ICCCAD’s current and future work on loss and damage.
Stephen is a visiting researcher at ICCCAD and a member of the institute's Loss & Damage team. He holds an MA in Public and International Affairs from the University of Ottawa, where he studied environmental politics and climate change-induced migration. His personal research interests lie in exploring how new communications technologies can inform practical policy solutions to facilitate climate change adaptation.