Round-up of the 10th International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change (CBA10)

Submitted by Julia Barrott | published 3rd May 2016 | last updated 10th Jun 2016
In his closing speech at CAB10, Saleemul Huq unveils the key outcomes from the conference.

More than 300 delegates come together to discuss 'enhancing urban community resilience’

The 10th International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change (CBA10) took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh from 21-28 April, at the Dhaka campus of the Independent University, Bangladesh. This year, for the first time, the conference had an urban focus, with the theme of ‘enhancing urban community resilience’.

More than 300 delegates from across the world attended CBA10, which is the latest in a series of international conferences looking at how local communities can and do adapt to climate change. The CBA conference series aims to share and consolidate the latest developments in CBA practices, policy and theory across sectors globally. It aims to strengthen the existing network of practitioners, policymakers, planners and donors working on all levels of CBA, and enhance the capacity of practitioners, governments and donors to help improve the livelihoods of those most vulnerable to climate change.

"When we first started, climate change was originally perceived to be an environmental problem, but developing countries soon recognized that the poorest communities were going to be most affected by its impact. At that time, there was very little space for that discourse to happen, hence we initiated the process of community based adaptation which is an integration of climate change, development and poverty." 

Dr Atiq Rahman, executive director of BCAS

CBA10 was organised by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) with the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS), the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), and the Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB). It was hosted by the Government of Bangladesh.

The conference started with three days of field trips to see how Dhaka communities are fighting back against vulnerability with projects like rooftop gardens. The huge city of 20 milloion people is growing by nearly 5% per year, in part because of rural families fleeing river erosion, storm surges and sea-level rise, which contaminate their fields with salt water, and erode their land. But Dhaka is also a thriving test bed for home-grown, climate-related solutions, some of which CBA10 participants were able to see in action.


CBA10 Fieldtrip: meeting community leaders in Gazipur . Photo by ICCCAD: https://storify.com/IIED/cba10-field-trips

Filed trips were followed by a range of plenary and parallel sessions held at IUB. Discussions brought to light examples of federations and communities of the urban poor who come together to organize themselves and provide an opportunity for urban developers, climate change practitioners and local government to mainstream adaptation activities from the community level upwards into wider levels of planning and implementation. With the right support, these federations can build resilience to climate change and help strengthen the cities they live in. Working with community federations of the urban poor provides a way to do adaptation at scale which also has benefits for pro-poor urban development. In many instances, good development planning - for example the provision of land ownership, and effective waste and sewage management - is synonymous with good adaptation planning at this level.

"We are very grateful to be here at the CBA conference and the learning from here will help strengthen the process of CBA back home. Communities should be the driver in making adaptation sustainable, maintaining links with the government and other stakeholders. Communities can influence donors to fund capacity building to scale up and popularise the issue of climate change in cities."

Rudy Haddad, Homeless People's Federation of the Philippines

Working with organised federations of the urban poor also provides an opportunity for providing large scale climate finance for local initiatives, and ensuring the benefits of climate finance reach those that need it most. This is something the multilateral and bilateral agencies supporting climate change adaptation have struggled with to date.

Other highlights at CBA10 included the staging of a Pot Gan (traditional Bangladeshi musical drama) performance – The Lived Experience of Climate Change: The Story of One Piece of Land in Dhaka. This began as a piece of theatre, but soon the audience became part of the show as they had to help the actors – a homeless couple migrating to Dhaka to look for work and a place to live because their home has been washed away by a mighty river – find a solution to the challenges they faced.

"Urban poor communities have begun to work at scale in towns and cities within countries as well as across countries. It is important that national and international policy makers and funders support them to build resilient cities."

Saleemul Huq, IIED senior fellow and director of ICCCAD

Speakers at CBA10 also reiterated the need to build on the opportunities presented by the Paris Agreement on climate change, signed by 175 countries in New York last week. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, provided a taped message for CBA10 participants, stating “The pipeline of capacity building you have established is creating the leaders and champions of tomorrow. These are the leaders that can and must seize the Paris opportunity. The opportunity is here, the challenge is clear, and the moment is now.”

CBA10 emphasized the importance of urban adaptation and ended with a call for the urban poor to be closely involved in building resilience and for international climate finance to reach informal settlements directly. “Without the involvement of the urban poor, no city will be resilient,” Saleemul Huq stated in the closing session.

IIED provided substantial coverage of the conference, including daily video updates by senior fellow Saleemul Huq on IIED's YouTube channel.

Full details of the coverage can be found here.

The 11th international community-based adaptation conference will be held in Uganda in June 2017.

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The video message of Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to the participants of the 10th International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation (CBA10).