By Nabir Mamnun, Senior Research Officer, Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies
The Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) jointly organised a DECCMA and HI-AWARE Joint Stakeholder Workshop on 7 September 2015 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The workshop was attended by 47 participants representing research institutes, universities, government agencies, development partners, NGOs and civil society. Prof. Dr Shamsul Alam, Senior Member of the Bangladesh Planning Commission, presided over the workshop as the chief guest, and Atiq Rahman, Executive Director of BCAS, chaired the workshop. The objective of the workshop was to provide an interactive overview of CARIAA, DECCMA and HI-AWARE and to familiarise the programmes and research projects among the key stakeholders and policy and decision makers in Bangladesh.
Dr Atiq Rahman first welcomed the distinguished participants and discussed the objectives of the workshop. He noted that while climate change is a global threat there are some hotspots that are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. These effects are impacting vast swathes of poor populations and endangering their lives and livelihoods today. He also noted that research on climate change adaptation demands interdisciplinary approaches and a South-South sharing of knowledge and experience. He mentioned that CARIAA is a programme that addresses these issues.
Dr Kallur Subrammanyam Murali, Senior Programme Officer at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), presented the brief programme overview to the audience. He introduced, in a very brief outlines, the four projects awarded under CARIAA’s initiative. Dr Murali described the Hotspot Approach and Consortium Model adopted in the CARIAA initiative. He also talked about what CARIAA is expecting from this type of country-engagement events. He noted that by using hot spot as a lens for research on common challenges across different contexts, new opportunities and insights could emerge. He also noted that making use of a cross-scalar approach enables programmes to take into account the specific needs of vulnerable groups, including the poor, and also the dynamics and sometimes competing priorities and considerations at different scales. Comparative analyses between study sites, regions and hot spots, he said, will contribute to broader generalisations of the results.
Folllowing Dr Murali’s presentation, the Co-principle Investigators of CARIAA projects in Bangladesh presented their respective projects. Dr Md Abu Syed, Fellow at BCAS, gave a presentation on HI-AWARE, and Professor Dr Musfique Salehin, of IWFM, gave a presentation on DECCMA. Dr Abu Syed noted that HI-AWARE will adopt a comparative, cross-scalar, multidisciplinary, and integrative approach to look at short- and long-term climate trends, physical and social vulnerabilities, and adaptation strategies at various scales, building on existing initiatives and mobilising the strong research and policy networks of the consortium members. Moreover, he said, it will engage with key stakeholders – including researchers, practitioners, and policy makers – at all levels from the beginning so that there is an appropriate mix of incentives and tools to use HI-AWARE-generated research findings and pilot outcomes to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable groups in the region. Professor Salehin said that the researchers in the DECCMA project will work with the governments and a wide range of stakeholders of the delta regions to understand the challenges (how people are adapting to the physical effects of climate change and human interventions, such as sea-level rise, alongside socio-economic pressures, including land degradation and population pressure, in the delta regions) and identify the implications of different adaptation options to those challenges. The project aims to develop methods to bring all the different factors together – economic, social and physical – which will help predict how the three deltas may evolve over the next 50 to 100 years and provide governments with the knowledge and tools to ensure that future policy/pathways can maximise planning services and programmes to benefit the region’s population. He also noted that there will be a particular focus on assessing migration as an adaptation in deltaic environments (in the context of other adaptation options) under a changing climate.
In his address, the chief guest, Professor Shamsulalam, said that Bangladesh has been one of the most pro-active developing countries to take the issue of climate change seriously and has shown success in developing national-level scientific expertise and government-level action on environmental sustainability issues. He noted that climate change and water constraints are threatening the economic growth process by increasing flood vulnerability, loss of valuable assets and pressures on land use for agriculture and food security as well as for industrial and urban purposes. Improving resilience to disasters and climate change is one of the themes of sustainable development pathways. He also noted that the Seventh Plan of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh has stressed the need to take into account the environment, climate change adaptation and mitigation and disaster risk reduction in a broader development context. He said that the programmes in environmental management and climate change remain of low impact because they are not properly incorporated in mainstream economic policy management.
Dr Dwijen Mallick and Dr Md Abu Syed from BCAS presented a talk on ‘Situational Analysis in HI-AWARE Study :Teesta River Floodplain’, which was based on a review of up-to-date literature and field-level research activities. They analysed adaptation practices to climate change, with a special focus on people’s vulnerabilities due to climate variability and dynamics of water flow in the lower Teesta and dependent livelihoods in north-west Bangladesh. They noted that adaptation options and technologies are being practiced from generation to generation in different sectors. They briefly discussed the national, regional and international interventions with regards to existing policies, strategies and action plans. They also noted that the implications of various policies adopted at the national level have been found to be not very satisfactory at the field level since their integration by sectors and ecosystems are not adequately or not at all addressed. They also said that the adoption of Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change (CBACC) approach has got the priority over other initiatives. Hence, higher level research for innovation in the area of adaptation options, new tools and technologies, improvement and promotion of the tested existing practices/options by sectors and ecosystems are necessary.
After the presentations a group exercise was conducted. The groups also discussed what information/knowledge from CARIAA at the national or regional level can contribute to strategies and policies and how stakeholders would like to contribute or get engaged with CARIAA.
In the group work, the participants agreed that the proposed research activities is demand-driven and will be responsive to the decision-makers of the country. They expected that the projects will develop better understandings of conditions leading to the vulnerability of livelihood systems, current and future vulnerabilities, factors/barriers to success for sustainable adaptation measures and the most desirable planning horizons for adaptation. They also expected that the projects and overall CARIAA will use evidence generated at various scales to shape policies or practices that inform adaptation measures, decisions and actions and will establish informal networks that enhance problem-solving capacities in adaptation to climate change and resilience building. They suggested the following approaches for research uptake:
a. To develop a common knowledge-sharing platform
b. Reflection on knowledge output and sharing of empirical results
c. Sharing findings with policy makers, academics, practitioners and other stakeholders of different level through
i. Publications of scientific articles, policy briefs and popular articles
ii. Organising regular seminars and workshops
iii. Inclusion in the instrumental documents
d. Applied research in partnership with implementation organisation; action research
e. Exchange of climatic data and information
All the stakeholders showed a keen interest in being involved with CARIAA.