“Operationalizing” adaptation to climate change in developing countries

An interesting conference is planned for Nov. 25, 2008 in the Netherlands on “how to operationalise adaptation to climate change in developing countries”.  This is a follow-up to a conference organized last year by several Dutch humanitarian and development NGOs on adaptation to climate change in developing countries, with the goal of sharing experiences from NGO practitioners, scientists, government officials, and companies.

Last year’s conference used a thematic and regional approach to look at impacts and consequences of climate change for developing countries. Now this year, their focus is on how this knowledge should translate into action.

We know the possible threats that climate change can pose, but how do we translate this into our actions here and now? How to translate the general and long term climate scenario’s in information for decision-making at community level? How can climate change adaptation strengthen the MDGs? How can climate change adaptation improve existing disaster risk management structures and their connection with sustainable development strategies. It basically comes down to a simple question: “‘Now that we know that the climate is changing, what should we do different in our daily work in developing countries to adapt to the consequences of this change?”

I hope that they begin to look at involving communities in this approach, and find ways to support the locally-led activities in communities that already are addressing adaptation to climate change. I am always fascinated by how local people are leading the way on sustainability – see Stories of Sustainability. I also hope they look at some of the exciting work being done by Canada’s Farm Radio International to discover and share local knowledge about climate change adaptation in Africa.

We don’t need to always be reinventing the wheel; we need to build on what people already are doing locally. Of course, this may mean finding ways to provide financial support to small groups that do not have sophisticated project or financial management systems – but who are doing things that work.