Daily report for 17 August 2010
2nd International Conference on Climate, Sustainability and Development in Semi-arid Regions (ICID 2010)
On Tuesday, participants at ICID 2010 convened in a plenary on synergies among the UN Conventions, as well as panel sessions organized around the four sub-themes of the conference: climate information; climate and sustainable development; climate governance, representation, rights, equity and justice; and climate policy processes. During lunch, poster sessions and a World Bank film on “Hope for a Changing Climate” were presented.
SYNERGIES AMONG THE UN CONVENTIONS: On Tuesday morning, a plenary session convened, chaired by Luis Alberto Figueiredo Machado, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil. Expressing hope that this meeting would help set the agenda at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in 2012, he reminded participants that the Rio Conventions (UN Convention on Biological Diversity, UN Convention to Combat Desertification and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) all stem from the root concept of sustainable development.
Via video message, Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, lauded the discussion of synergies between the Rio Conventions and suggested better water management practices at the local level as one way to bring the Conventions closer together.
Antônio Magalhães, Director ICID 2010, read a message from Ahmed Djoghlaf, CBD Executive Secretary, who traced the inter-linkages between the three Rio Conventions, noting that the impacts of climate change affect both sustainable land management and biodiversity. Djoghlaf called for the inclusion of indigenous peoples and local communities in the ongoing talks on creating synergies between the Conventions.
Margarita Astrálaga, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), described the evolution of the synergies debate within international environmental governance, highlighting that the Rio Conventions can draw from other processes where the synergistic approach is already being implemented, specifically the chemicals conventions and those within the CBD.
Sergio Zelaya, UNCCD, on behalf of Jaime Webbe, CBD, presented on biodiversity, noting calls for enhanced cooperation among the Conventions at their respective Conferences of the Parties (COPs) and described future initiatives including a proposed joint liaison group, joint expert group and joint scientific body, as well as a joint extraordinary session of the Rio Convention COPs at the upcoming Rio+20 Earth Summit.
Nora Berrahmouni, Food and Agriculture Organization, addressed synergies between the Rio Conventions in the case of dryland forests. Warning against parallel national action plans on individual sectors, she called for integrated action plans to secure resource bases, conserve and preserve livelihoods, and to mitigate and adapt to climate change. She recommended collaboration at the national and regional levels, sustainable land management schemes at the landscape level (such as at the watershed level), scaling up successful projects and common integrated monitoring systems between the Conventions, as well as sustainable financing.
On the responses to climate change in Latin America, Walter Vergara, World Bank, noted three particularly vulnerable climate “hotspots” currently facing challenges: the Amazon; the Andes; and the coral biome in the Caribbean. He emphasized the importance of better understanding the costs and benefits of various adaptation approaches and noted that current funding for adaptation is limited in scope.
Luc Gnacadja, UNCCD Executive Secretary, said the issue of synergies “seems to be like a ghost – we all sense its need but we have never really seen it,” and called for “pulling down the ivory towers” that surround implementation processes within the individual conventions. He called for greater investment in sustainable land and water management to ensure food security, decrease the rate of climate change, alleviate drought and avert further biodiversity loss.
In the ensuing discussion, participants discussed, inter alia: the potential of food security in drylands; issues faced in the Caatinga Biome in Brazil; the need to increase the involvement of civil society in the synergies discussion; the importance of greater information sharing on the work of the Rio Conventions; and inclusion of human rights in the synergies discussion.
In the morning and afternoon, 18 thematic panel sessions convened to address issues related to climate change adaptation, vulnerability and sustainable development. In addition to these broad themes, panels addressed specific case studies and some focused on elements such as genetic resources, the health sector, poverty indices, remote sensing, the role of culture and education. A selection of panel sessions is presented below. THEMATIC PANEL SESSIONS
SESSION 2.1.3 VULNERABILITY, IMPACTS AND ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE IN SEMI-ARID REGIONS: In a morning session, Jürgen Kropp, Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany, argued that there is a knowledge management problem regarding climate change, namely, data collection alone does not suffice, experiences must be shared and complex knowledge interpreted for decision-makers’ use.
Paulo Nobre, National Space Research Institute, Brazil, said studies suggest that climate change will make northeast Brazil hotter and more arid, with irregular rainfall, loss of agricultural production and negative employment impacts. He suggested responses such as creating employment programmes to recover the natural landscape of the Caatinga Biome, reforesting riverbanks and promoting solar-powered irrigation of cash crops.
Otamar de Carvalho, economist, Brazil, discussed the disproportionate effect of droughts, floods and climate variations on poor farmers in the semi-arid northeast. He also explained how much of the northeastern economic production and population is affected by desertification.
Using examples from Brazil, China, Haiti and sub-Saharan Africa, Johann Gnadlinger, Regional Institute for Appropriate Small-scale Agriculture (IRPAA), Brazil, discussed the scope for using various forms of rainwater harvesting in adapting to climate change.
Jagadish Baral, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Nepal, discussed the positive and negative impacts of climate change on the semi-arid Mustang plain in Nepal.
SESSION 2.1.4 THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNITY, CULTURE, IDENTITY AND EQUITY IN CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION STRATEGIES: Carol Farbotko, University of Wollongong, Australia, on climate refugee narratives, noted that the warming planet would increase the migration of climate refugees. She lamented “reactionary” policies toward climate refugees in the face of natural disasters, especially those that reduce cross-border movement. She noted the need for equitable tools to assess climate migration processes. Julian Rebotier, University of Québec, Canada, presenting on justice and climate change in Latin American cities, noted that belief in climate change does not rely on “faith,” as climate change is a measurable occurrence. He lamented the lack of detailed climate knowledge at local levels to ensure effective adaptation.
Jonathan Ensor, Practical Action, UK, on community-based adaptation and culture, highlighted that social norms and culture can constrain adaptation processes.
Stressing that culture can define opportunities for change, he said adaptation can become part of the local cultural context. Renata Marson Teixeira de Andrade, Catholic University of Brasília, Brazil, presenting with Andrew Miccolis, ComSensos Consultoria, Brazil, on climate change vulnerability in Brazil, noted the Brazilian climate change plan emphasizes use of renewable fuels and increasing biofuel use. She bemoaned the lack of studies measuring the impacts and vulnerabilities in local communities, and the lack of recommendations on good adaptation strategies.
SESSION 2.3.1 DEVELOPMENT OF SEMI-ARID REGIONS: Anthony Galvão, Center for Strategic Management and Studies (CGEE), Brazil, chaired the session on the development of semi-arid regions. Reading a message from Ignacy Sachs, Research Center for Contemporary Brazil, France, Galvão stressed that mankind has two great challenges: poverty and climate change. He said that scientific and ecological cooperation is important, and remarked that ideas and coping strategies should continue to be shared between cultures and regions. He suggested challenging architects and urban planners to rethink cities and housing in the context of the new paradigm of climate consciousness.
Ivan Silva Lire, UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the semi-arid regions of Latin America, noted that 11% of the economically active regions generate 55% of gross domestic product, stressing that these regions are characterized by inequality. He said that the regions with high growth exploit natural resources that are linked to the world economy. Tania Bacelar, Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil, said that there are more opportunities than threats when dealing with climate change. She noted that semi-arid regions in Brazil face decreasing crop yields and increasing urbanization. José Eli da Veiga, University of Campinas, Brazil, called for effective knowledge exchange, incentives and technology transfer in the region in order to increase communities’ economic activity. He stressed, however, that the price of technologies must decrease in order to increase acceptance and use of new technologies.
SESSION 2.3.5 WATER GOVERNANCE IN DRYLANDS: During the session chaired by Paulo Varella, National Water Agency (ANA), Brazil, panelists discussed policy measures to address the challenges of water governance in drylands.
Ricardo Andrade, ANA, Brazil, described the PROÁGUA programme in Brazil, which has created information sharing and monitoring systems, built capacity, and strengthened and empowered regulations and institutions in the water management field. Discussing lessons from US-Mexico cooperation on joint river management in the Rio Grande basin, Jurgen Schmandt, University of Texas, US, said that, except during droughts, cooperation has worked well, but worried that it may become ineffective as climate impacts worsen. He said that joint river management regimes do not commonly address groundwater or headwaters management, but should.
Benjamin Ngounou Ngatcha, University of Ngaoundere, Cameroon, discussed the many challenges to sustainable water resource management in the Lake Chad Basin, including large research gaps, demographic pressures, and lack of planning and transboundary cooperation. Oscar Buitrago Bermúdez, University of Valle, Colombia, stressed the role of territory, territorial zoning and governance in water resources management, underscoring the need to assure the active participation of autonomous communities in water and territorial governance.
Otamar Carvalho, economist, Brazil, discussed water governance as a question of balancing water supply and demand. He said analysis of population changes of semi-arid northeastern Brazil showed a drop in rural zones and substantial growth in peri-urban areas, raising questions about the effectiveness of policies aimed at keeping rural farmers in the semi-arid areas.
SESSION 2.4.2 VULNERABILITY AND ADAPTATION IN AFRICA AND LATIN AMERICA: On Tuesday afternoon, a panel chaired by David Miano Mwangi, Kenya Arid and Semi-arid Lands Research Programme (KASAL), was convened. Maria Carmen Beltrano, Italian Agricultural Research Council, Italy, presented on livestock innovation in an Italian heat-warning forecast system and described an effective temperature humidity index, which has been used to forecast extreme heat events, saving farmers a loss of dairy cattle.
David Barkin, Metropolitan Autonomous University, Mexico, gave a presentation on new strategies for building sustainability, stressing the need to shift from traditional science to a “new communitarian rurality,” which requires greater community involvement and encourages wealth creation and environmental conservation.
Presenting on the role of markets in addressing climate change in the arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya, David Miano Mwangi, KASAL, emphasized the need for “sustainable commercialization” within the sustainable development agenda.
Frederick Kahimba, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania, highlighted viable traditional and conventional adaptive responses to drought, and concluded that during times of extreme climate events, conventional agronomic practices should be maintained.
Stephen Mureithi, University of Nairobi, Kenya, described a participatory project to train communities in northwestern Kenya on better resource-use planning techniques. He called for the localization of drought cycle management and a regional approach to management of shared resources.
SESSION 2.4.6 IMPACTS AND ADAPTATION IN AGRICULTURE: Justine Ngoma, ZBU, Zambia, highlighted adaptation measures implemented in the agriculture sector to address climate change in Zambia. She said the primary policy responses to adaptation include crop diversification, use of drought tolerant crops, conservation farming techniques and improved farm extension services.
Christina Rosera, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries, Ecuador, underscored the challenges presented by ecosystems affected by unplanned agriculture and limited access to water, among others. She stressed the importance to democratizing access to productive resources (land, water and credit) and participatory processes that are culturally acceptable.
On community farming, Ganesh Parida, Centre for Youth and Social Development, India, explained that it is an eco-friendly sustainable agriculture practice that promotes proper use of land, ensures food security for poor families and creates space for technological adaptation.
Steven Nagume, Action Coalition on Climate Change, Uganda, underscored challenges facing agricultural adaptation to climate change, including the latent and slow nature of observed impacts, lack of baseline data, competing land use and lack of comprehensive area-specific management plans. He noted adaptation strategies including herd management practices.
José Lemos, Federal University of Ceará, Brazil, discussed the effects of changing rainfall patterns on agricultural production in the state of Ceará. Peter Odjugo, University of Benin, highlighted West African agricultural challenges, noting that current changes are overwhelming existing adaptive capacity. He called for investment in irrigation, use of drought resistant crops, development of national climate change policies and adequate information for farmers on climate and adaptation strategies.
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