After Copenhagen: DM2009 winner has a message for world leaders Leonardo B. Rosario
How I wish the finalists of DM 2009 could have presented their “100 Ideas to Save the Planet” to international leaders gathered at the U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen.What those leaders would have seen would have been not only passion and commitment but also solutions that were innovative, pragmatic, and cost-efficient. It’s too late to go to Copenhagen. But Copenhagen is only the beginning of the search by world leaders for climate adaptation solutions that are worthy of their support.
The DM2009 finalists’ projects meet all the objectives of that search. They enhance and strengthen people’s capacity to manage climate risks and adapt to changing climate patterns, and even to build community resilience among the most vulnerable – Indigenous Peoples, women and children, marginalized farmers, and small-scale fishers.Building disaster-resilient communities may seem far-fetched to skeptics, but it is do-able.
With innovative, community-based management of natural resources, as well as the synergy of ancient and traditional knowledge systems combined with modern technology, a quarter of the DM finalists, showed how to secure food, which is most important in times of disaster, can be secured. The techniques included climate-adapted production systems, participatory plant breeding, the introduction of “Family EarthBox,” bio-culture systems, cultivation of drought-resistant rainforest tree food, and merging traditional indigenous production practices with environment-friendly modern farming technologies.
The same finalists showed the combination of indigenous and modern knowledge and practices for weather forecasting such as the use of pluviographs, thermometers, and satellites to reduce the adverse impact of climate change on the traditional way of life of indigenous communities. Almost half of the finalists offer innovative, simple, and low-cost solutions to specific problems associated with climate change like flooding, salt water intrusion, the sudden occurrence of dry periods, thick frost and hail, fires, and total darkness. These same solutions also will secure food sources, increase income and improve livelihoods, enhance local biodiversity, and even curb the emission of greenhouse gasses and sequester carbon dioxide emissions. Even more, they will strengthen governance by building unity and cooperation among climate stakeholders.
From Cambodia to Bangladesh to Ecuador
The innovative solutions for flood-prone communities and those affected by rising sea levels include green-concept floating villages (Cambodia), flood–resilient shelters (India), floating flood shelters (Bangladesh), and elevated bamboo houses (Ecuador).Floating gardens and granaries (Laos PDR), floating hydroponic gardens over fish pens (Bangladesh) and contained vegetable farming and disaster-resilient aquaculture (Philippines) will enable farmers and small-scale fishers to continue working on their livelihoods and even improve income despite floods and rising sea-levels. Some finalists even saw opportunities from heavy precipitation through rainwater harvesting (Kenya) and deeper water storage for fish farming and full utilization of upland water (the Philippines). In Rwanda, the introduction of high-value temperate fruit trees will not only reduce runoff by impeding the flow of rain water down the slope but also control soil erosion and improve water quality.Other unique solutions from the DM finalists combat salt-water intrusion with desalination infrastructure using solar energy (Djibouti and Vanuatu), enhance local food production with raised “not till” gardening in Maldives, and companion agroforestry using mixes of salt-tolerant fruit trees to create protective belts with fodder and vegetables (Vietnam).
From Peru to Ethiopia to Uganda
The ichu grass would be a protective measure to reduce production losses in maca cultivation due to the impact of prolonged dry spells. In Ethiopia, the innovative solution involves clay-pot micro-irrigation in dry highland villages. In Uganda, a community addresses drought through a community water-harvesting system that channels runoff water from roadways and other surfaces to underground ferro-cement tanks. An integrated approach involving hydrological enhancement, social mobilization, micro credit, appropriate technology, and marketing innovation is proposed by a Pakistan finalist to develop community resilience against drought. In Peru, recovering and adapting proven strategies of late pre-Hispanic cultures to conserve water using locally available materials and labor is introduced to manage the reduction of water available for irrigation during the dry months.
In the Himalayas of Nepal, coping with changing precipitation pattern is done by improving traditional water management practices through drip irrigation, waste water management, and shifting to high-value agroforestry. In Bolivia, values formation activities encourage children and adolescents to establish and practice water conservation technologies specifically in areas affected by water shortages. Other finalists address the impact of climate change on people’s health and well-being. Oxfam America proposed a low-cost approach to maintain healthy drinking water supplies during extreme climatic events by providing good wells and sealed composting latrines. In Bangladesh, an inexpensive water filter was designed to stem arsenic poisoning. Use of medicinal tree farms is innovative in reducing malnutrition and malaria infection as well as for purifying water and production of safe water in remote villages in Cambodia.
From the Philippines to Chile to Guatemala to Belize
Sustainable forest management is among the finalists’ innovative solutions to manage climate risks and at the same time generate multiple side benefits. In the Philippines, for instance, native species of mangroves planted in abandoned fishponds will restore aquatic biodiversity, increase coastal livelihoods and food, and in the long term restore the mangrove forest cover that will ultimately sequester carbon dioxide emissions by about 60 metric tons per hectare per year and lessen shoreline erosion and coastal degradation. Related innovations elsewhere are the Mapuche Forest Model of an indigenous community in Chile that aims to avoid deforestation, the conservation efforts of “grupos promotores” of Guatemala’s indigenous communities, and the sustainable forest management system that highlights the century-long intimate relationship with the forest of the Q’eqchi Maya of Southern Belize.
Some finalists will tap the media in their adaptation projects. By playing out climate drama on the airwaves, small farmers in Nigeria will become managers of climate information system. The innovation prides itself on a two-way feedback system using solar-powered radios and Advancement through Interactive Radio (AIR) devices. In the high-altitude communities of Bolivia, the innovation combines local and external information and communication technologies for sustainable risk reducing production, documentation of experiences, and implementation of early warning system disseminated by the local radio. In Peru, use of virtual environments improves communication of scientific information that enables future farmers of Altiplano to make informed decisions about their farming systems. And India’s innovation adopts contemporary technology such as community radio and Internet-based rural VRCs to communicate critical issues like climate change adaptation among small women and youth in the rural communities
For Specific Problems, Novel Solutions
Some projects offer innovative solutions to specific problems. A “bell and bottle” is a low-cost warning system for flood- and slide-prone communities. The use of SMS technology can strengthen disaster preparedness. A floating power charger can provide light in the darkness of climate change. Daphnia grazing can stem the global warming-linked bacterial toxins in fish ponds. Earth-roofed housing is an affordable and sustainable shelter addressing desertification. A wave energy converter can mitigate ocean-wave damage and beach erosion. The use of adaptive fire management can reduce risks for biodiversity loss and an innovative pilot scheme matches seed to the needs of women farmers.
After Copenhagen, the next obvious stop for world leaders as they seek sustainable solutions to climate adaptation is to tap into these “100 Ideas to Save the Planet.” It can't happen too soon.
Comments from Readers
SUBMITTED BY TSEGAY ON SAT, 12/12/2009 - 11:34.
Dear Leonardo,Great idea and great sysnthesis of the projects. Good luck in getting the ears of the world leaders and those who have $2 million and a passion to do something positive to help the poorest of the poor in climate change adaptation.selamat and regards,Tsegay
SUBMITTED BY DENNIS PATRON ON MON, 12/14/2009 - 10:35.
You're ideas are great and sustainable and our world really needs it now. Good luck to this endeavor. Wish you success in all your projects.
SUBMITTED BY LYNDEL ON TUE, 12/15/2009 - 20:29
Great work. 'this is the kind of projects that we need today. Wish you more success in your endeavors with our small communities.