Seventh International Conference on Community-based Adaptation (CBA) Closing

25 Apr 2013

Statement by Pauline Tamesis
Country Director, UNDP Bangladesh

Your Excellences, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC,
Robert W Gibson, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Mary Robinson, Mary Robinson Foundation,
Mr. Shafiqur Rahman Patwari, Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forest and
distinguished participants from climate vulnerable countries around the world:

I am very pleased and honoured to be at the closing session of the Seventh International Conference on Community-based Adaptation. In the two months that I’ve been in Bangladesh, I’ve understood real leadership by the Government in partnership with civil society organizations on calling for a global response to climate change. In all measure, it clarifies the point why Bangladesh has been the host country for CBA event. Let me begin by congratulating the organisers, Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF), Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) and the International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED) for this progressive achievement.

This has become the leading global platform that speaks for/about the millions of climate change victims, their survival plights and coping strategies, raises powerful voice of their rights and mobilizes collective will and creative thinking to shape an equitable and sustainable future of the vulnerable population.

Unlike in the west, climate change in the developing world is not about emissions, carbon sinks, energy efficient car and technology. Climate change here is about people, vulnerable communities, their lives and livelihoods. Their right to survive is now being threatened and we, UNDP in Bangladesh are now dealing with this human face of climate change. 

Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Safeguarding lives and livelihoods of disaster and climate vulnerable people has remained at the core of UNDP’s mandate, both in Bangladesh and across our programme countries. Beginning in the 1970s with the provision of support for improved early warning systems, UNDP has assisted Bangladesh through a fundamental transformation in its approach to disaster management. The results of this journey over several decades are readily apparent in the steady reduction of lives and livelihoods destroyed, and in the way the nation has built back better each time. Today, Bangladesh stands as a global leader and innovator in the field of disaster and climate risk management , offering lessons to build community resilience.

Building resilience is one of UNDP’s priority areas of support that help countries and communities sustain their development gains in the face of increasing climate and disaster risks.

We perceive resilience as “an inherent and/or acquired condition achieved by managing risks over time at individual, household, community and societal levels in ways that 1) minimise costs, 2) build capacity to manage and sustain future momentum and 3) maximise transformative potential.” 

Building resilience, thus, requires a proactive, systems-driven approach that helps communities anticipate, absorb and recover from inevitable crises and turn them into opportunities for innovation, learning and adaptation that lead to better development outcomes in the future. And mainstreaming Community Based Adaptation (CBA) into national and local level is the essence of time as we increasingly realize the need to avoid a bifurcation of DRR and CCA into two parallel streams that hinder mainstreaming and raise the risks of gaps and overlaps in programming to build community resilience. 

I understand that the conference provided a great opportunity to share and learn mainstreaming experiences of the Government on climate change resilience into development planning. I take this opportunity to express our solidarity with the issues and challenges as well as recommendations of this great event as it is our common goal to address the consequences of climate change. Particularly, this conference flagged some of the issues which are very close to our strategic goals and on-going programme such as the challenges centred on (i) inequality and justice issue relating  to adaptation; (ii) addressing the underlying causes of vulnerability as the barrier to resilience; (iii) how to promote gender equality and create women as agents of change; (iv) climate finance issues relating to the creation of a financial “buffer” to allow communities to innovate and try out new options, to mention a few..

Although funding is increasingly available to support adaptation in developing countries, simply providing poor country governments with more money does not mean that it will reach the poor and those who are most vulnerable to climate change.

In fact such communities are often marginalised, remote, and receive limited services. Reaching these hundreds of millions of people and supporting their genuine participation in any decision-making about resource allocation for CBA will be an immense challenge for any international or national programme or funding mechanism focusing on adaptation.

The big question we all are faced with today is, will the actions to date, be enough? In this Global Meet, I think we can all agree: more actions are needed! The challenge of climate change is getting more threatening over time associated with severe natural disasters that are more frequent, more intense and more destructive. You may represent different countries, but the challenges we face are common - we have to save this planet, we have to save human lives. And, I am confident that the discussions from this conference will help us take forward our collective agenda.

Thank you for your attention.
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