CBA15: Local solutions inspiring global action


CBA15 provided a hub for people who are on a pathway to climate-resilient, low-emission and sustainable development and want to thrive in the face of climate change.

Last updated 23 July 2021
Women fishing in shallow water

Women fishing in shallow water in Zanzibar, Tanzania (Photo: Matt Kieffer via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

The 15th International Conference on Community-based Adaptation to Climate Change (CBA15) took place from 14-18 June 2021.

In this blog, IIED senior researcher Sam Greene shares the main highlights from the event as he looks ahead to the UN climate negotiations in November 2021 (COP26), while the key messages from the conference are summed up in this report.

CBA15 brought together practitioners, grassroots representatives, local and national government planners, policymakers and donors working at all levels and scales to discuss how we can drive ambition for a climate-resilient future. Over 400 people attended from almost 70 countries. 

The global CBA conference is held each year to:

  • Enable transformative outcomes through community-driven climate action
  • Facilitate a space for innovation and interactivity to drive global ambition for a climate-resilient future, and
  • Re-imagine solutions by sharing, learning, challenging assumptions and collaborating on good practices.

The virtual agenda brings wider access to climate practitioners globally, reduces our carbon footprint and lowers our environmental impact. It also offers interactive opportunities for participants to gain ideas and inspiration, and to build networks and connections to address this pivotal moment in climate action.

CBA15 provides an innovative, interactive space for the global CBA community of practice to come together to promote effective, locally led climate action.

The conference videos and presentations also provide a valuable learning resource for practitioners and policymakers during and after the event to continue the conversation. See what happened at CBA14 in this YouTube playlist.

For networking, you can post a message on the community boards, find other participants working on similar issues and connect with them directly.

Here are the top five reasons people attended CBA14 (direct feedback from last year's participants):


Last year, 500-plus participants from over 70 countries joined the conference.

In this video, CBA14 participant Rose Molokoane, from Slum Dwellers International and the South African Federation of the Urban Poor, reflects on the value she gained from CBA14

Past CBA conferences have brought together leaders and experts from those working at grassroots level and in the international arena such as Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development; Sonam P. Wangdi, chair of the Least Developed Countries Group; Sheela Patel, former chair of Slum Dwellers International; Florah Ashihundu, community mobiliser at Shibuye Community Health Workers; and Rosemary Atieno, chief executive officer and founder of Community Mobilization for Positive Empowerment.

What makes the CBA event different?

It's the only one of its kind for practitioners

The conference prioritises the lived experience, evidence and perspective of those working directly to deliver community-based climate adaptation, including community, research and local and national government representatives.

It creates evidence that informs action

Donors and large adaptation programmes come to CBA to find out directly from the practitioners what works and doesn’t.

As Nathanial Matthews, CEO of the Global Resilience Partnership, said: “CBA is a central event for GRP. It provides us with a consolidated opportunity to collaborate with community leaders and to understand adaptation issues from a wide range of perspectives that informs the best use of our resources from policy through to practice."

It puts community at the centre

CBA is the only adaptation conference that puts the lived experiences and knowledge of local people at the centre – creating a space that enables the voices of the most vulnerable to shape decisions about the future of adaptation.

85% of attendees said that attending CBA14 gave them a better understanding of the importance of marginalised people's perspectives and voices in shaping climate change responses – feedback from CBA14

Through knowledge sharing and influencing global processes and platforms for adaptation, CBA15 ensured that the perspectives of people on the frontline were heard at the highest levels. The conference is a space to explore the importance and urgency of locally led adaptation and other burning issues focusing on five themes and related questions.

Relevant themes that drive change


Climate finance
What does improved access to climate finance look like at the local level and what do different actors need to do to achieve the change we urgently need


Innovation for adaptation
How can we build partnerships that prioritise and sustain community-led innovation?


Responsive policy
How can policy from local to global be refocused so that it prioritises locally action and local knowledge?


Nature-based solutions
Nature-based solutions for adaptation: how can local communities drive NbS for resilient food systems?


Youth inclusion
How can we mainstream and scale youth participation so that they can be equal and capable decision makers for community-based adaptation?

There were so many ways to connect, including thematic workshops, peer-to-peer trainings, Coffee Chats, the marketplace, community boards, crowd-sourced open space roundtables and the Dragons’ Den for pitching ideas.

Nicholas Abuya profile photo

You come out with a changed perspective… I urge you to take time to be part of this rich learning experience of a community of practice sharpening its knowledge, skills and understanding, doing its bit in addressing the impact of climate change, particularly among the most vulnerable communities – Nicholas Abuya, Christian Aid Kenya

What to expect

Participation, networking and interaction like no other

CBA is one of the few places where South-South networks can connect, strengthen and expand. The agenda is built around a principle of networking, allowing participants to get to know everyone at the conference, facilitated in small groups, participant-led open space sessions, meet-and-greets, and access to all events.

Enabling discussions on resilience and adaptation between individuals from a wide range of backgrounds is key; including from national and local governments, national and community level NGOs and researchers from the global North and South – rooted in lived experience of climate risks and hard-won practitioner experience in responding to them.

Your voice expands and grows beyond the conference

This conference ensures that practitioner voices are heard. Previous events have been attended by delegates from a wide range of institutions including the UNFCCC, Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group, climate finance funders and LDC government ministries.

Representatives from processes that are shaping policy and practice on adaptation globally, such as the Global Commission on Adaptation or the LDC Initiative for Effective Adaptation and Resilience join CBA conferences to understand practitioner perspectives more deeply.

Our outreach ranges across continents and scales and our messages are taken to high-level platforms and global summits including the UN Secretary-General's Summit, the biodiversity and climate COPs and many others – driving real grassroots-led change.

New knowledge, applied skills and confidence from the quality of the learning and building capacity

Fiona Percy profile photo

“Many of the CARE participants who attend CBA work in local level projects and may not be involved at a higher level but have a lot of experience; at CBA they get to share and find out what others are doing and exchange. They get a confidence boost, seeing that what they are doing is on the right track and is important. It validates their work. Through their sharing, they realise their work is also relevant and useful to others" – Fiona Percy, CARE Danmark/NIRAS Africa

Through the conference, participants built their understanding of the opportunities and challenges to deliver effective programmes and create enabling environments for them, while responding to changing international agendas.

Agnes Leina profile photo

I met different community practitioners and learned so much. I learned various approaches… and it was remarkable. You will enjoy it, you will learn a lot, and you will come out a different person – Agnes Leina, Il’laramatak Community Concerns, Kenya

About the organisers

CBA15 is funded by the Climate Justice Resilience Fund, Irish Aid and IIED, and organised with co-hosts the Global Resilience Partnership, CAREPractical Action and ICCCAD, in collaboration with the contributing partners Green Africa Youth Organisation, BRAC, the Huariou CommissionIUCN NL, African Centre for Trade and DevelopmentGIZ and VSO, and sponsorship from EnGen.


For all enquiries, please contact [email protected].