Event highlights: CBA14 – 14th International Conference on Community-based Adaptation to Climate Change

CBA14 is the leading practitioner-focused forum on climate change adaptation, delivering dialogue and evidence to inform policy and action, from the local to the global scale. It gathered together more than 500 people from over 70 countries for an innovative online event that delivered learning, networking and creative dialogue. This page brings you daily reports from the five-day event.

Article, 17 August 2020

Follow the links below to go directly to the highlights for each day of CBA14:

Day 5

UK minister calls for more finance for nature-based solutions

The Rt. Hon. Zac Goldsmith, UK Minister for Pacific and the Environment, called for more finance for nature-based solutions (NbS) in his address to the CBA14 closing plenary. 

Speaking via a video recording, Goldsmith said plans by governments worldwide to spend trillions of dollars to boost economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic represented an opportunity for change.

He said: “If we choose wisely, we can deploy those funds in a way that helps us transition to a cleaner, more efficient system. One where we're able to live within nature's means. And we can build on the vital adaptation work that you are all doing.”

The UK will next year host the COP26 United Nations climate talks. Goldsmith said the UK would highlight direct experience of climate solutions at the talks. He told CBA paricipants: “As COP26 presidents we want to amplify your voices, so that your experience can inform, inspire and stimulate effective adaptation and resilience at scale."

Read more and watch the full video.

Goldsmith made the opening speech during the closing plenary, and was followed by an address by Sonam P Wangdi, chair of the Least Developed Countries Group of the UNFCCC, who highlighted the importance that messages coming out of the conference discussions are heard and recognised at the highest levels.

Watch a full recording of the closing plenary below or on IIED's YouTube channel

Announcing the Dragon's Den winner!

We are delighted to announce that Ineza Grace from Rwanda has won the Dragon's Den competition with her project entitled 'Rural community in their sustainable economic development'.

We caught up with Ineza Grace before her win to find out what she was learning during the competition. She told us: “Using what I’m learning during the sessions and from other participants, I can see the actions I need to implement, the partners I need to get on board and the costs I need to cover to make the project viable. I really look forward to pitching it tomorrow!” 

Congratulations Ineza – your pitch was obviously a success!

Watch Ineza Grace's video about the Dragon's Den below, or see it on IIED's YouTube channel:

Short films highlight local climate adaptation projects

During CBA14 we presented eight short films about local climate adaptation projects and invited participants to vote for their favourite. We announced the winner at the closing plenary.

Short videos can be an effective way to illustrate the nuances of complex issues, personal experiences of climate change or valuable lessons emerging from a project. The eight videos featured projects in Eastern Kenya, India, Honduras, Kenya, South-Africa, Uganda and Nepal, and focused on topics such as nature-based solutions, climate finance and adaptation technology.  

The winning video portrayed Women’s Climate Centers International (WCCI), a project that links women from Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and the United States to create women-led one-stop climate centres in Africa. Read more about the project at WeAdapt or watch the video below:

WCCI will receive sponsorship for one person to attend CBA15 next year. The winning film will also be screened at We The Peoples Film Festival 2020, the annual flagship event of the United Nations Association Westminster.


CBA Conversations: call for feedback

Adapting for Climate Justice case studies

During CBA14 we talked to Jamie Williams, senior policy advisor at Islamic Relief Worldwide about a project in Lombok, Indonesia, that is giving farmers access to timely, relevant climate-related information and supporting their efforts to adapt to climate change.

People in Lombok rely heavily on rain-fed farming. But the dramatically changing climate is lowering yields and threatening livelihoods. Local people find government weather forecasts and projections difficult to understand and use, so Islamic Relief established community-based ‘climate schools’ to help make climate information useful and locally relevant. 

The initiative has helped farmers understand and apply weather predictions. Yields have increased, livelihoods have been made more secure – and a working group set up to maintain and potentially scale up the project. 

To coincide with CBA14, Islamic Relief has released the draft of a new publication, 'Adapting for Climate Justice', which features case studies from across 19 countries. The publication is available for download at the CBA14 Marketplace on weAdapt - and Islamic Relief  wants your feedback!

  • What do you like about the case studies?
  • What do you want to know more about?
  • What does the report need to cover that’s missing?

Email Jamie Williams ([email protected]) with your comments!

We recorded a video with Jamie Williams in which he gives more detail about the Lombok project. Watch it below or see it on IIED's YouTube channel.

Who were those Dragons in the Den?

We will announce the winner of this year's Dragon's Den today. But who were the dragons?

Dragon’s Den sessions are based on a popular TV programme about entrepreneurs asking for investment. During CBA14 participants work in teams to develop project ideas, learning how to make effective pitches for investment. Their work culminates in a session where they present their idea to a panel of 'dragons' – people with investment experience. The dragons assess the merits and viability of the pitches and offer feedback, give guidance on funding – and pick a winning project.

photos of four people.

The dragons at CBA14 (Photo: IIED)

This year's dragons were: Bijal Brahmbhatt, director of Mahila Housing SEWA Trust; Edit Kiss, director of development and portfolio management at Althelia Funds; David Sol, advisor to IUCN NL; and Pham Tuan Anh, president of Viet Nature – a previous Dragon's Den winner!

Their criteria for assessing project ideas were:

  • Innovative climate impact
  • Sustainable development – a positive impact on one or more Sustainable Development Goals
  • Business case – a clear and viable business case
  • Scalability – potential for scaling up, and
  • Team – experience, capability and a good pitch presentation.
  • Return to the top of the page

Day 4

CBA conversations: what's been your highlight?

Making crucial connections

Nicky Batang-ay is programme officer at Indigenous Peoples’ organisation Tebtebba. Based in the Philippines, Tebtebba works to get the rights of Indigenous Peoples respected, protected and fulfilled.

Batang-ay says his CBA14 highlight was a session exploring how rural communities in Africa are working with nature-based solutions (NbS) to adapt to climate change. He was impressed and encouraged to hear how communities from Namibia, Madagascar, Mozambique and Uganda are integrating a rights-based approach into NbS initiatives.

Batang-ay is especially interested in monitoring, evaluation and learning for NbS and, in particular, ensuring that the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples are integrated into these activities. He is keen to collaborate with others developing this area of work.

He told us that during the session, he was able to connect with session co-host WWF and future collaboration is planned. Great news!

Watch a video of Nicky Batang-ay talking about his CBA14 below, or see it on IIED’s YouTube channel.

NbS has been part of the daily lives of Indigenous Peoples and other local communities even before this term was introduced by conservation organisations

Nicky Batang-ay, Tebtebba

CBA conversations: what interests you?

Nature-based solutions in Africa and learning from communities

Sushila Pandit works for CARE Nepal as a resilience specialist. She is part of a team analysing whether local adaptation plans of action (LAPAs) address nutrition issues, and looking at how to integrate nutrition and food security issues into climate and disaster recovery planning.

She says has been especially interested to learn about examples of NbS in African countries, and how community and indigenous knowledge can be integrated into policies and plans.

She also attended the youth inclusion sessions. Pandit says a key lesson is that young people often want to change society and bring information to the community - but sometimes they miss the fact that the community already has a lot of knowledge that can be translated into policies.

Watch a video of Sushila Pandit below, or see it on IIED’s YouTube channel

CBA conversations: fostering resilience in the Sahel 

COVID-19 has turned our world digital and forced many conversations online – but learning and knowledge exchange on climate resilience haven’t stopped. 

Taking meetings virtual, the interactive platform Africa Learning Forum on Adaptation (ALFA) Sahel 2020 convenes practitioners, scientists, decision makers and researchers to share challenges and opportunities for building climate resilience in the Sahel drylands of west Africa. 

a man standing in front of a sandstorm

A sand storm in Kouggou village, Niger (Photo: copyright Marie Mornimart)

This landscape offers huge potential for productive livelihoods. But its people are among the poorest and most vulnerable on earth.

The webinars aim to understand drivers and barriers for climate resilience in the region. Discussions have covered current and future climate science projections, trends in livelihood systems and natural resource governance and conflict. ALFA Sahel shares outcomes online. To keep the webinars responsive to needs, polls during each session determine the topic for the next.

Programme lead Sanoussi Ababale said: “During these two-day forums we brainstorm ways to build resilience among the diverse yet vulnerable Sahelian people and their landscape. We’re also building knowledge on how governance systems influence farmers’ and pastoralists’ access to natural resources given the Sahel’s changing climate.”

He added: “The topic for next month’s webinar will be ‘Gender and resilience’. Join us!” Email him at [email protected].

Day 3

Mind the Generation Gap!

Young people from around the world asked some tough questions at Wednesday’s session on how to include a new generation’s aspirations in climate policy.  

The panellists listening and responding included Mike Girling, director of external affairs at the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) and Matt Toombs, director of partnerships and engagement at the UK government’s COP26 unit. The UK is due to host COP26, the next United Nations climate change summit, in November 2021.

Participants asking the questions included Walela from Rondônia, Brazil, who focused on Indigenous People:

Sarah Farheen Khan from Bangladesh reported on how GCA volunteers are training young people to help train others. She asked how the GCA could help disaster-prone South Asian countries.

Toombs stressed that inclusivity was vital to getting sustainable outcomes. He said young people had a huge voice in pushing governments forward. 

Girling said the GCA wanted to use its role in organising high-level events to insert the voices of young people. At recent GCA Partnership Forums in Africa and South Asia, young people were speaking alongside ministers and leaders of international agencies.

Cathal Swan, of Youth and Environment Europe, a network that brings together youth organisations from 26 countries, warned against making symbolic gestures rather than engaging in meaningful ways. He asked: "Can we ensure that young people are listened to at the GCA-level and it isn't tokenistic?"

Tapaswini Sharma asked a fundamental question for everyone organising online discussions: what about young people without internet access?

Education is key

Desmond Alugnoa is co-founder of Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO) in Ghana. He emphasised the critical importance of education for young people, to give them the opportunity to expand their ideas and skills. He said getting young people involved in producing evidence and working with scientists is key to establishing credibility. 

Read more: Joshua Amponsem is leading the youth inclusion track at CBA14. Amponsem, co-founder of GAYO, recently spoke to IIED about how institutions can benefit from young people’s energy, creativity and knowledge in delivering local level adaptation.

CBA conversations: Rose Molokoane, FEDUP and SDI

Rose Molokoane is a coordinator at FEDUP, a federation of urban and rural poor in South Africa, and co-founder of Slum Dwellers International (SDI). Today SDI has affiliates in 33 countries, and Molokoane is internationally recognised for her activism on land tenure and housing. We spoke to her about CBA conferences and climate action in urban settlements.

In the brief video below, Molokoane talks about the value of the CBA platform as a way to share SDI’s work on building resilience in urban slum communities, and as a space where grassroots leaders can share experiences, particularly on work to empower women – fundamental, she says, “because women are the engines of life”.

"Missing climate conversations" at the local level

But on the issue of slum communities adapting to climate change, Molokoane sees a major disconnect between international policy discussions and local authorities. At the local level, she says, the climate conversation is simply not happening.

Molokoane said: “But I increasingly realise that what’s being discussed internationally doesn’t filter down to local authorities. 

“I remember attending a local authority meeting and someone started talking about the various national and international climate change forums. It was clear the local municipalities don’t know anything about climate change. At local authority level and in mayor forums, there is no agenda around climate change."She added: “It’s no good these conversations sitting with national governments and member states. Local authorities need to engage with the conversation. If they don’t, it is the poorest people – those already struggling to access land and homes – who will suffer the most."

Ordinary local authorities need to get educated on climate change – and fast!

Rose Molokoane

Report from the Dragon’s Den: analysing the business case

In today’s Dragon’s Den session, participants continued to work on turning their ideas for climate adaptation initiatives into investable projects. This session focused on unpacking key components that can make or break a business case, including information management, data analysis and risk reduction. 

Funding: Filling in the ‘missing middle’

A session hosted by the Asian Development Bank, the Adaptation Fund, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and the African Centre for Trade and Development looked at innovative approaches to getting climate finance to the local level and building strong sub-national institutions. Mpfunzeni Tshindane, of SANBI, reported on their small grants programme.

Effective learning for adaptation and resilience

How can we foster effective learning approaches that are meaningful and led by least developed countries (LDCs), based on their needs and priorities?

That was the question at today's session featuring reports from LDCs on how climate learning is developing in their countries.

LDCs have led much innovation in climate responses because they have decades of experience in managing climate risks and delivery of climate adaptation programmes. The LDCs' LIFE-AR initative is gathering implementation experience from front-runner countries and aims to ensure that best practices are shared across the least developed nations, to ensure that no LDC is left behind. Learning is key.

Today's session looked at what has worked and not worked:

Learning takes many different forms:

Fiona Percy, of NIRAS Africa and CARE Danmark, highlighted the importance of learning as an ongoing social process: “It may be important to distinguish between learning as education – transfer of expert knowledge to learners – and learning as a social and ongoing process where everyone has something to learn and to contribute to learning and which can co-create new insights, innovations and knowledge. 

“The second type is important for all situations of uncertainty – as in the changing climate and the new risks it brings, and as in the COVID-19 pandemic which makes us all learners by doing and innovation.”

Photo gallery shows how ecosystem-based adaptation is helping communities respond to COVID-19

A family standing in front of a smallholding.

Farmers in La Mojana, Colombia, are using agrobiodiversity to cope with floods and droughts. During the COVID-19 lockdown, when travel is restricted and transport of goods disrupted, these climate-resilient gardens are providing a local source of healthy food for families (Photo: copyright UNDP Climate via Flickr)

To coincide with CBA14, we have built an online photo gallery with images and descriptions of nature-based projects that have helped communities deal with the impacts of the coronavirus. 

The album includes 34 photos and three videos – you can see the photos and read about the projects on IIED’s Flickr channel. 

Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) involves people using biodiversity and ecosystem services to adapt to climate change and achieve sustainable development. IIED and IUCN and UNEP-WCMC are working in 12 countries to promote EbA. The gallery was built with the help of the informal network Friends of EbA.

At CBA14, discussions are focusing on how nature-based solutions can be made to work for people, nature and climate – recognising that biodiversity loss is a challenge equal to that of climate change, and that we need to consider these issues together if we are to have meaningful impact.

Day 2

CBA conversations: what interests you?

Resilience and engagement

Habiba Fora of the Haki na Sheria Initiative in Garissa county in northern Kenya says she is especially interested in resilience and policy engagement. She introduces herself in the brief video clip below:

Fora told us how climate change is impacting local pastoralist communities: “We’re in a very sensitive environment and we move between two extremes – from serious drought to extremely damaging floods. It’s one bad thing after another and very hard on the communities. They are displaced by drought, forced to travel great distances for water, their livestock die.”

She said: “It’s about trying to figure out a balance for the community. And the biggest question for me is around how to build resilience. This is about communities acquiring the skills to adapt to the impacts of climate change so they can protect themselves. This is their right.”

Habiba Fora is also keen to learn how others are bridging the gap between communities and policy development. She says: “Community participation in the policy process is crucial, but most decisions are made in conference rooms, in the towns. Announcements and outcomes of these meetings are published in newspapers. But pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities don’t read newspapers so they don’t know about these meetings. 

Announcements and outcomes of these meetings are published in newspapers. But pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities don’t read newspapers so they don’t know about these meetings

– Habiba Fora

“We help to make that connection and find ways to get communities' voices heard in these meetings. Haki na Sheria is making progress in getting community ideas on the table – but I’m keen to hear what others are doing. How are other individuals and organisations connecting grassroots to policy?“ 

Key questions for building resilience

IIED's Clare Shakya asked some strategic questions at the session on resilience today:

At CBA14 we will be talking together all week to discover some of the answers. 

Preparing for the Dragon’s Den

During CBA’s Dragon’s Den sessions participants work together to develop investment 'pitches' or proposals for funding. In a final competition-style session, they make their pitches to the 'Dragons' – the people with investment experience. 

Today we had the first Dragon’s Den preparation session, with mentors helping teams to create business plans. Session lead Jan Willem den Besten, from IUCN, explained how the Business Canvas Tool helps put together a well-structured business proposal: “It sets out the key ingredients of a business case in 12 components, all of which are needed for a robust business case that will stand up to investor scrutiny."

A slide from a presentation setting out elements of a business plan.

12 key questions your business plan should answer (Image: IUCN)

“The tool makes sure you’ve ticked all the key boxes – such as working out your return on investment and all the specific costs of the project, and that you have a clear plan of how you will generate income or pay back your loan. You’ll need all these answers at the ready if you are going to make your business proposal attractive to investors.” 

Tomorrow’s Dragons Den workshop will look at the topic of risk: participants will test their proposals against risks, with feedback from mentors and participants. Stay tuned! 

You can read how last year's winner, Dorice Bosibori Moseti, has taken her project forward in this interview. 

A market for good ideas

The CBA 'marketplace' profiles community-based adaptation projects from around the world. This year, the market stalls are online: you can read individual project profiles or search WeAdapt’s interactive map to find initiatives by location. 

Women taking the lead at one-stop Climate Centers

Women’s Climate Centers International (WCCI) links women from Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and the United States to create women-led Climate Centers in Africa. The centers will highlight indigenous women’s knowledge, boost entrepreneurial skills and demonstrate climate change solutions to local communities. The first WCCI site is in Eastern Uganda and is already demonstrating practical solutions such as:

  • Planting indigenous trees that are resilient to climate change, 
  • Promoting bio-intensive farming where crops are grown in kitchen gardens, and 
  • Rolling-out low-cost technologies such as locally made energy-saving stoves. 

It will also provide entrepreneurship training for women. 

WCCI has a flat organisational structure that supports community collaboration and consultation – these are at the heart of everything WCCI does. A key goal is self-sufficiency: by generating its own revenue it aims to limit donor dependency. 

Comfort Harja Musaka, a WCCI team lead, explains: “We want to take climate talk away from big conferences and [those with] PHDs and come to where the problem actually is – and create a community of practice.”

Day 1

Opening address: LDC group chair calls for more ambitious climate action

The CBA14 opening plenary featured a video address by Sonam P. Wangdi, chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) negotiating group at the UN climate negotiations.

The LDC Group represents the 47 nations who are most vulnerable to climate change, despite having done least to cause it. Bhutan, as chair of the LDC group, is hosting this year’s CBA conference.

Wangdi called for increased efforts to protect communities from climate change. He said: “Despite the pandemic, the impacts of climate change continue to be clear and increasing. While fires are burning in California, intense flooding has damaged homes and destroyed livelihoods in Sudan, India, Yemen, Bangladesh and many more other locations."

“Climate change adaptation is as important as it has ever been. The urgency and ambition needed to fully prepare for the future must continue to increase if we are to protect ourselves and our communities."

Wangdi also called for more ambition on climate action. He said: “We must continue to build ambition on top of previous commitments under the Paris Agreement, so that at COP26 in 2021 we will be able to secure an agreement that safeguards a resilient future for LDCs."

He highlighted the value of connecting the international CBA community at CBA14. He said: “These moments are central in building the community of practice, networks and knowhow that are necessary to develop complex responses to a complex challenge. They ensure that development partners and international organisations can remain grounded, able to learn from those who are most vulnerable, by providing opportunities for them to listen to local solutions and wisdom."

Watch the opening address on IIED’s YouTube channel and read a full report on the opening plenary. You can also see a recording of the session on YouTube.  

Live polling on community adaptation

After an opening panel discussion, CBA participants were invited to share their perspectives on the future of locally-led action using the 'Mentimeter' voting platform. The first question asked about the impact of COVID-19 and the related economic crisis on locally-led climate action. The result was close: most participants thought the pandemic would accelerate climate action.  It will be interesting to explore these views during the coming week.

Who’s joining CBA14? 

The five-day event will bring together practitioners, grassroots representatives, policymakers and donors for interactive discussions, workshops and networking. Each day, we will be profiling participants and asking them about their aims for the conference.

An amazing platform for networking – Abdullah Ahmad, BRAC, Bangladesh

Abdullah Ahmad is senior programme manager at the NGO BRAC, based in Bangladesh. He says: “CBA brings policymakers, practitioners and researchers together from all over the world and brings with it two very important opportunities. First, to learn from other’s experiences: in the context of community-based adaptation, what are the lessons, concerns and solutions?

"CBA also offers an amazing platform for networking. Last week’s ‘Meet and greet’ sessions were a great example of that. I got chatting to a practitioner based in India – we quickly realised that, although we work on projects in different countries, our projects are set in very similar socio-economic conditions. It was great to connect, ask questions, share ideas.”

Two people talking via video conferencing.

Abdullah Ahmad says hello! (Image: IIED)

Abdullah is especially interested in how CBA14 will get community-based adaptation onto the radar of policymakers. He said: “Getting engagement from decison makers is always the challenge, so we need to find practical and context specific ways of mainstreaming CBA and increasing government engagement – especially since, in many cases, government structures are not dynamic enough to engage with communities. We need to think about how we can get governments behind CBA ‒ and more quickly.

"Communicating evidence that shows the successes of CBA may help build engagement with decision makers. Having previously worked in government, how to make this connection, how to bridge the gap with policy is something I’m interested in learning more about.”

Helping to join the dots – Kathleen Kirui, NETFUND, Kenya

Kathleen Kirui is resource mobilisation officer at NETFUND, in Kenya, which works to make sustainable financing available for environmental management. This will be her first CBA event – what is she hoping for?  

“My role is to develop and design programmes to enhance community resilience. At CBA14, I’m looking to learn from other organisations and individuals, to find out more about what they’re doing. How are other organisations getting resources – both technical and financial – to communities, to support their efforts to adapt? I’m hoping to learn from others and see if there are lessons and idea that we can borrow."

Another big question for Kathleen is around how to break down silos, and create synergies for impact: “Already, from the many discussions on the CBA14 platform it’s clear how much amazing work is under way to support community adaptation. But we often work in silos. 

“During one of the CBA14 ‘meet and greet’ sessions last week, I connected with people from all over world – but I also met practitioners from right here in Nairobi! There are some fantastic projects happening very near to where we work – yet we’ve never met."

The climate adaptation community will have more impact if we work together – so I’m looking forward to seeing how being part of the CBA14 community can help create synergies, help join the dots.

- Kathleen Kirui

More about CBA14

CBA14 is connecting practitioners, community representatives, local and national government planners, researchers, policymakers and donors more than 70 countries. We had a packed and exciting agenda – check out the interactive online agenda.

Participants from around the world could share, learn and engage in creative conversations via their computer or smartphone.

The key messages from the conference were summarised in a blog by Sam Greene, while a short report on the knowledge and experiences from the event is available to download

All the recordings of the sessions can be found in the playlist below or on IIED's YouTube channel.

About the organisers 

The Royal Government of Bhutan welcomes participants to CBA14. CBA14 is funded by the Climate Justice Resilience FundIrish Aid, the Global Resilience Partnership, the Global Commission on Adaptation and IIED, and organised with co-hosts CARE and Practical Action, in collaboration with the contributing partners BRAC, the Huariou CommissionGreen Africa YouthIUCN NLEnvironmental Management for Livelihood Improvement Bwaise FacilityAfrican Centre for Trade and Development and Slum Dwellers International.