Local communities must come first in adaptation efforts

No matter what country you live in, it is local communities who are at the forefront of climate change impacts.

In the American mid-west, heavy flooding appears to have become a trend in recent years. Farmland, commerce, health, safety, transportation, homes, businesses are all at risk from the flooding caused by torrential rains. Some communities have started taking steps locally to adapt to these risks and prepare for the future. Flood-proofing at-risk structures, restoring and conserving flood plains – as a community in Iowa did after disastrous floods – and avoiding development in flood-prone areas – as Roseville, California has done – are but a few of the practical steps communities can take.

Across the world, at the 7th annual Community-Based Adaptation Conference in Bangladesh, grassroots climate adaptation organisations discussed the same thing: the people and communities bearing the brunt of climate change. Important themes included:

  • the need to include local stakeholders in developing community-based adaptation strategies
  • the issue of inequity and climate change: climate change impacts are felt differently by people depending on their gender, occupation, wealth, and access to safety nets.

These are deeply-rooted social inequities that underpin this disproportionate vulnerability to climate change. For this reason, climate change adaptation measures should consider taking a rights-based approach, as discussed in one of the conference’s sessions.