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Spearheading adaptation – Key takeaways from APAN forum

Adaptation is more local than global. This means, we need more ground efforts at the city and rural levels to spearhead adaptation for our communities. In many parts of the world, we are already facing the effects of climate change, and there is a worldwide push to reduce emission. However, we also have to get ready for how these changes will affect us, depending on where we live. For instance, do we live in flood-prone, heat-prone, or low-lying areas? If we do, we should think about constructing things like natural barriers or sturdy buildings to shield us from the possible damage caused by extreme events. And even if we don’t, it is still essential to prepare for these kinds of changes in the future.

Adaptation can happen at an individual level like planting trees, conserving energy, and adopting sustainable lifestyles. On the other hand, adaptation can be spearheaded by local governments, like in the case of Kanazawa, where there is a high thrust on nature and culture conservation. This was one of the cases discussed at the Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation (APAN) forum in South Korea last month. People responded positively to this approach and asked for its replicability and scalability potential.

There were some challenges discussed at the global level as well. These were the need for more awareness on adaptation at the local government level, less engagement of stakeholders, lack of youth engagement in rural livelihoods, and lack of connection between different policies. The top-down approach limits local action, and therefore, a balance needs to be reached between the local communities and the global goals. But how can we achieve this? We need clear guidance on adaptation action from the central government, besides also listening to the local people’s needs. Also, adaptation goals can be achieved if different cities or city-level organizations cooperate with each other. This is much easier to achieve than cooperation between countries. Examples are working on watershed projects, or cross-city urban forestry initiatives.

At APAN, some good global initiatives to enhance finance for adaptation were highlighted. These include the Community Resilience Partnership Programme and the microfinancing model in Bangladesh. These help vulnerable communities and save them from poverty and loss of livelihoods. On the contrary, more prominent financing agencies take a long time to materialize collaboration, making local financing difficult for communities. Each year, we need more and more finance for adaptation. Why? Because one, the climate impacts are rising. And two, there is limited action to build adaptation capacity at the local level. So, we must use small-scale initiatives to already build our capacities and bring about global change. Local-level action is the key to enhancing the effectiveness of adaptation initiatives.



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