Event highlights: CBA15 – 15th International Conference on Community-based Adaptation to Climate Change

CBA15 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. More than 400 people from almost 70 countries gathered online for learning, networking and creative dialogue. This page brings you daily reports from the five-day event.

Article, 14 June 2021

Follow the links below to go directly to the highlights for each day of the 15th International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change

You can review the full conference agenda.

Day 5

UK minister says enabling more locally led adaptation is a key UK aim for COP26 

The UK's COP26 Adaptation and Resilience Champion Anne-Marie Trevelyan told CBA15's closing plenary that enabling more locally-led adaptation is a critical part of what the UK wants to achieve at this year's UN climate talks (COP26).

Anne-Marie Trevelyan is the UK government's International Champion on Adaptation and Resilience for the COP26 presidency and Minister of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change. Speaking via a video recording, Trevelyan said: "We know that effective adaptation requires local leadership. 

"So enabling more locally led adaptation, informed by inclusive plans, is a critical part of what we as a presidency are seeking to catalyse, to continue through to the African presidency at COP27."  

Trevelyan said the UK supports the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group Initiative for Effective Adaptation (LIFE-AR) and recognises that countries and local communities should make decisions on building their resilience. 

She said: "In supporting the LDC Initiative for Effective Adaptation and Resilience programme, we recognise that countries and local communities are the experts in determining how to prepare for climate change. And they ought to have the autonomy to make decisions on building their resilience."

The closing plenary also featured panel discussions summarising what we learned at CBA15. The speakers identified the strategic and insightful messages that decision makers need to hear in the run-up to this year’s major events – COP26, the Convention on Biological Diversity COP15 and more.

Congratulations to the 2021 Dragons’ Den winner!

This year’s winner is Chikumbutso Kilembe, with his proposal for a project to generate biogas from waste.

His winning proposal has three elements:

  • Improving waste collection and segregation
  • Producing biogas from organic waste (mainly food waste) and selling it to restaurants and hotels, and
  • Selling the liquid fertiliser that is a by-product of the process.

Dragons’ Den participants were asked to clearly state what their projects could deliver – the 'value proposition'. Chikumbtso’s value proposition included limiting the use of charcoal and liquid petroleum gas, supporting recycling and cutting down on fertiliser subsidies. 

He estimates that he needs an investment of US$120,000 to invest in a biogas plant.

Congratulations Chikumbtso and good luck with your project!

We also need to congratulate the other candidates who faced the dragons. You can read this Twitter thread to find out more about their proposals. 

Friendship wins film competition

The winner of the CBA15 film competition is Bangladesh-based NGO Friendship with their film entitled ‘Ground zero to climate adaptation: local climate fighters in Bangladesh bringing global solutions’.

Their 12-minute film showcases Friendship’s work to support climate migrants living on the shores of the Bay of Bengal. 

It shows how Friendship is working with these highly vulnerable, isolated communities who have repeatedly lost their homes due to flooding. Friendship delivers practical measures to build resilience, including constructing raised plinths to lift whole villages above the floodwaters, providing health care by boat, and vocational training for women.

The film says climate migrants have an overwhelming courage and resilience. 

If we and our international partners take steps in supporting them and learning from them, borrowing some of their courage, the world will perhaps have more solidarity, more understanding, and we may find a new hope in our tomorrow – Friendship

Watch their winning documentary below or on Friendship's YouTube channel:

What's been your CBA15 highlight so far?

A CBA15 highlight for me was connecting with Tracy Mann of Climate Wise Women. Tracy introduced me to Women Climate Centers Kenya. We are exploring a project that we can work on together and seeing how we might secure a Catalytic Grant – Pauline Kariuki, Rural Women Network, Kenya

Who's at CBA15? 

Small-scale financing for local innovation – Gabriela Mercurio, urban analyst at Cities Alliance

Gabriela Mercurio is an urban analyst at Cities Alliance, working on an initiative called 'Stronger partnerships: local innovations for new climate realities in cities. The project focuses on making small-scale financing available for inclusive experimentation at the local level. 

Gabriela says: "We want to give room for ideas to become action at the global level, and we have a particular focus on work in informal settlements. And at the same time, we're also trying to respond to a gap in international development and bring funding closer to the community level – while also learning how to best do it."

The project is working mainly with small local organisations, many of which have never accessed international funds before.

Watch an interview with Gabriela Mercurio. Click on the fourth icon from the right at the bottom to activate subtitles or view it on IIED's YouTube channel.

Gabriela says peer-to-peer learning is a big part of her project, and several project partners are at CBA15 to share their findings and learn from others. 

This is Gabriela's first time at a CBA conference, and she's been finding it useful. She says: "It has been important personally to also expand my own views on challenges around climate adaptation, and also possibilities for change and for improvements in the work that I also do."

What's been your CBA15 highlight so far?

I was really amazed by what I learnt during the peer-to-peer training – about a tool named KoBoToolbox which allowed to test the mapping of the climate risks and vulnerability of a locality in some regions of the world. I learnt a lot – Paul Lodry Dongmo, African Network of Young Leaders for Peace and Sustainable Development, Cameroon

In the Marketplace: climate-proofing tool to help local enterprises thrive

At the virtual CBA 'Marketplace', participants showcase tools and approaches that are helping communities around the world adapt to climate change. 

In the video below, Ainka Granderson, senior technical officer and resilience lead at the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), tells us about their marketplace entry, a new tool they that is designed to ‘climate-proof’ local green enterprises. 

Watch an interview with Ainka Granderson. Click on the fourth icon from the right at the bottom to activate subtitles or view it on IIED's YouTube channel.

Granderson says local community micro and small enterprises – such as those making fair trade chocolate, filleting, smoking and packaging fish or conducting eco-tours − are an important source of household income and key to the local economy.

But such enterprises are highly vulnerable to climate change and related disasters due to rising temperatures, more intense storms, floods, droughts, sea level rise and coastal erosion – all of which impact the natural resources that these businesses rely on.

She says: "To reduce these potential impacts on the enterprises while adding value to their products and services to improve their bottom line, we see as a key means to help build the resilience of local communities and their livelihoods."

Watch CANARI’s Marketplace entry above or on IIED's YouTube channel

Day 4

What women want – advocating for change

Wednesday’s session on ‘What women want’ looked at how grassroots and urban poor women are innovating and advocating for change that addresses their needs.

More than 40 participants joined a panel of expert practitioners to share their experiences of working with women’s groups to deliver locally-led solutions. The session opened with a poll asking about the most pressing needs of women living in informal settlements. 

A graph showing the results of the voting: 30% of women wanted better housing.

The snap poll in the session showed that safe and secure housing was a top priority

Sazini Ndlovu, of SDI Zimbabwe, also emphasised the importance of secure housing infrastructure, including affordable building materials that can endure severe weather, as well as better sanitation and energy facilities. 

Sarah Nandudu, of SDI Uganda, focused on the the issue of women’s safety. She highlighted the risks to women of unsafe roads, risky transport and poor street lighting. She reported that women living in informal settlements have been working together to gather and share information about areas that are especially unsafe. 

Naseem Shaikh, of SSP India, described a project that aims to address poor nutrition in drought-prone areas of India. Because of drought and over-reliance on cash crops, many women were found to be anaemic. The project encouraged women to acquire the right to cultivate a small piece of land and use it to grow a mix of nutritious crops.  

A photo and a plan of a small plot

This project encouraged women to acquire the right to cultivate a small piece of land and use it to grow a mix of nutritious crops (Photo: copyright SSP India)

After dynamic discussions in the breakout rooms, practitioner and activist Sheela Patel summed up the session by saying: "We need to challenge us all to realise how patronising we have been to grassroots women in treating them as beneficiaries and not as embedded partners in the process."

What's been your CBA15 highlight so far?

CBA15's innovation for adaptation sessions have been enlightening, particularly those on climate science. How can we get complex climate information to work for local people? Need to remember: "it's not only what science brings but what the community prefers". For me, that's a crucial takeaway – Dinee Tamang, Mercy Corps Nepal

Who’s joining CBA15? 

Grassroots women and communities must be organised – Josephine Castillo, Philippines

Josephine Castillo is project manager of a grassroots women-led organisation called SOFP DAMPA, or Solidarity Oppressed Filipino People, which has members across the Philippines.

She told us SOFP organises grassroots communities, supports women and builds community resilience to climate change and disasters. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been working with local women to improve communications and helped community gardeners to grow food. 

Watch an interview with Josephine Castillo. Click on the fourth icon from the right at the bottom to activate subtitles or view it on IIED's YouTube channel.

Josephine says it is vital for grassroots groups to get organised. She says: "Grassroots women and communities must be organised. They need to work with other groups, not only by themselves and their own communities.

"They need to do networking, coalition-building, partnership, collaboration with different stakeholders: government, NGOs or private institutions, UN institutions, so that they can access to programmes and resources from them.

"And then, we need to be involved in policy advocacy and to be involved in some decision-making spaces so that our voices will be heard. " 

Training day session is a hit!

Today in the Dragons' Den: the floor is yours! 

In today’s Dragons' Den session, participants will present the business case for their proposal to the dragons. Each participant will have around five minutes to make their pitch, after which the floor will be open for questions. 

Profile photos of four dragons.

The dragons and the audience will quiz each candidate to see if their idea meets set criteria, including: 

  • Does it make a viable and convincing business case? 
  • Is there potential for scaling up? 
  • Does it offer a solution that will actively contribute to climate adaptation? 
  • And does the idea bring social/economic benefits? 

After this critical questioning, the dragons will return to their ‘den’ (a breakout room) to discuss all of the pitches and select their top three. Meanwhile, the audience will cast their votes via Mentimeter.

Whoever gains the most points from the dragons and the audience wins.

We asked candidates what problems they were hoping to address with their projects. Here is a summary of their responses:

A slide with text. The largest text says 'Cooking energy challenges'

A word cloud generated during the session shows how proposed projects seek to address a wide range of issues

Good luck to all the pitchers! And look out for the announcement of the winner in tomorrow’s closing plenary!

Who’s joining CBA? 

Communities connecting cities with nature – Marta Moneo, CityAdapt, Panama

Marta Moneo is regional programme officer at UNEP’s climate adaptation programme in Latin America. She is joining CBA15 from Panama and is particularly interested in the sessions addressing nature-based solutions (NbS).

A group of people standing outside

Projects such as community gardens in cities can bring nature-based solutions into urban areas (Photo: copyright CityAdapt)

UNEP’s CityAdapt initiative works with people living in cities in Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia, aiming to support them to connect with the natural environment and minimise climate impacts. 

Marta says: "The potential of NbS in urban and peri-urban areas is enormous in terms of their capacity to mitigate the impacts of climate change such as flooding, heatwaves or landslides, while also generating economic and social benefits."

She says: "Cities are growing at a fast pace, generating great environmental degradation processes and concentrating high levels of vulnerability. The redirection of urban growth towards more nature-integrated models can contribute to minimise this vulnerability to climate change impacts through ecosystem services such as water flow, temperature or erosion control." 


Day 3

What’s been your CBA15 highlight so far?

The meet and greets have been so cordial and welcoming. I was delighted to meet many participants and our host Saleem! have now made contacts to participate in the UN Food Summit and share on regenerative agriculture! What a privilege. - Jenninah Kabiswa, World Renew Kenya

Thursday is Training Day

On Thursday, CBA15 will have an entire day devoted to learning. We are hosting a wide-ranging programme of sessions on everything from climate science to making 'podcasts on a shoestring' to 'Zooming marvellously'! 

Our focus is on sharing: practitioners will share the practical tools and approaches they are using to generate effective action. The interactive format will let participants contribute their own experiences and discuss what they have learned with their peers – people in similar contexts working on similar issues.

You can read this interview with CBA organisers to find out how they hope to create collaborative spaces and encourage new ideas about who is doing the teaching and who is doing the learning.

Climate information: getting lost in translation? 

This session explored the uptake of climate information and early warning systems at the local level. There’s plenty of interest in new research and donor support for climate information and technological solutions; their value in helping communities build climate resilience and manage shocks and stresses is well documented. 

But community uptake is low – so what are the barriers? 

We talked to Maliha Himu, junior programme officer from ICCCAD in Bangladesh, who works on a project training young people to disseminate climate information within their communities. 

According to Himu, to really get communities to engage with climate information, their needs must be listened to. And practitioners have a big role here. Maliha says: “We practitioners develop projects and seek to implement them at rural level. But when developing projects we don’t connect with community level people enough. We don't ask what kind of information will really help them. We, the practitioners, are the middle people: we need to connect with rural level to bring really sustainable solutions.” 

Language is also a barrier. For climate information to be useful to communities, it needs to be easy to access, easy to use and – most importantly – in a language that’s easy to understand. 

"Here at CBA15 we are talking [about climate information] in English – an international language, very familiar to us. But at community level and at rural level, this language is not familiar. Climate information is not very available in the rural languages: the communication gap is a major challenge.” 

A video interview with Maliha Himu. Click on the fourth icon from the right at the bottom to activate subtitles or watch it on IIED's YouTube channel

Participation and representation: quality counts!

Desmond Alugnoa of GAYO in Ghana addressing the session.

Desmond Alugnoa of GAYO said young people often felt marginalised at international gatherings. He called for women and young people to be recognised as key stakeholders (Photo: IIED/CBA15)

There were strong calls for more action to implement gender and youth-responsive policies into local, national and global policy at Tuesday’s session entitled 'Leaving no one behind: gender equality and intersectionality in community-based adaptation.'

The session was hosted by IIED and Women Climate Centers International and featured an introductory panel of speakers followed by informal discussions in breakout groups.

Panellists agreed that there is a need to focus attention on those who are traditionally distant from power but more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Part of this challenge is the need to take into consideration the priorities of different groups and to recognise overlapping, and intersecting complexities, so that the adaptation responses are fit for purpose and reduce rather than exacerbate inequality.

At the end of the day, they are not at the main session that actually takes the final decision. So, to what extent do they have their views reflected? – Desmond Alugnoa, Green Africa Youth Organization 

Desmond Alugnoa, of Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO) in Ghana, highlighted the issue of youth inclusion. He argued that young people should be more involved in major climate forums and discussions – and that they should be represented at the centre of discussions, rather than on the margins. Alugnoa said: “At the end of the day, they are not at the main session that actually takes the final decision. So, to what extent do they have their views reflected?

“When you organise these isolated sessions and processes and then it just becomes an a situation where their names are being mentioned, but in reality, their views and vision are not being perceived."

Stella Gama, formerly gender lead for the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group at the United Nations climate talks, also highlighted the difference between quantity and quality when it comes to participation and representation, saying: “We should also look at women empowerment and effective participation – not just numbers of women, but the women should be effectively empowered to participate in decision making."

Gama reported that much work had been done on gender policies at the international level; the task now was to bring gender responsive policies to the local level.

She said: “We should also be able to link this gender responsiveness that is happening at global level and link it to national level. And we should go beyond that. When the national level has linked with gender responsive policies we should also make sure that this is reflected adequately at local and village levels. So how do we do that?"

Gama said two tools would help ensure that responsive policies were effectively embedded at the local level: monitoring and evaluation and undertaking gender analyses before undertaking interventions.

Gama said: "We need these two tools at a local level to ensure that the gender responsive policies are reflected in our day-to-day action: gender analysis and also the agenda action or gender implementation plans at a local level.

"In that way, we will have everybody, all the population, participating effectively and included in development without leaving anyone behind."

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 watch video profiles of the projects in which virtual stallholders give insights into local adaptation tools or approaches they have developed. 

We spoke with Mamum Rashid, senior development manager with Bangladeshi women’s rights organisation Badabon Sangho, about their Marketplace entry. 

A video interview with Mamum Rashid. Click on the fourth icon from the right at the bottom to activate subtitles or watch it on IIED's YouTube channel

Rashid says urban poor Indigenous communities and women-headed families in informal settlements in the Bay of Bengal have been adversely affected by climate change impacts such as cyclones, erosion and increased salinity. He explains how Badabon Sangho has helped them engage with public authorities to get their needs factored into city climate resilience plans. 

By using household surveys and digital mapping using GeoODK and GIS-ODK (free and open-source tools that support mobile data collection), these groups were able to specify where crucial services such as water points, exit ways, drainage systems, safe spaces and play areas were needed.

The project included infrastructure plans for ten informal settlements – and having actively contributed to the cities’ resilience plans, they will help monitor the plans into the future.

Day 2

Prepare for the Dragons' Den!

The Dragons' Den is always one of the highlights of CBA. We had the first Dragons' Den preparation session today, and we caught up with one of the participants, Charles Mnyororo from Tanzania.

During the Dragons' Den process, participants work together to develop a business case for their local adaptation project. The ‘dragons’ – the people with investment experience – mentor participants on how to turn their idea into a ‘bankable’ proposal that will appeal to donors and investors. In the final competition-style session, the participants make their pitches and the dragons decide the winner. 

Charles is a technical WASH [water, sanitation and hygiene] officer from the NGO Sustainable Environmental Management Action (SEMA). He told us that he’ll be looking to get advice on developing his idea for a project to integrate climate change and health through working with community health workers. 

A video interview with Charles Mnyororo. Click on the fourth icon from the right at the bottom to activate subtitles or watch it on IIED's YouTube channel

Charles says: “This is my first time in the Dragons' Den and I picked up different interesting things in this morning’s session. I’ve learnt a lot about what a business model needs and what areas to focus on. And I’ve seen my idea is aligned with the thematic areas set by the dragons.”

“I expect to learn a lot more in the coming sessions this week,” he added.  

Over on Twitter another candidate, Dinee Yonjan, had a slightly different view:

Don't forget: you can join the CBA15 conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #CBA15

To find out more about the Dragons' Den, you can read this interview with Juliet Grace Luwedde, who was a joint winner of the CBA14 Dragons' Den with her idea for a Climate Action Media Mobile Van. 

Learning from local resilience in the face of COVID-19

This session looked at how local communities have responded to the global pandemic – and what lessons we can learn for future crises. 

Shaharin Mannan of ICCCAD introduced the project Voices from the Frontline, which is documenting stories of local community response to COVID-19 from around the world. 

Screenshot showing Shaharin Mannan of ICCCAD introducing the project.

Shaharin Mannan of ICCCAD set out the aims of the project (Photo: IIED/CBA15)

Shaharin said that local communities are the most vulnerable to crises such as pandemics and climate impacts – but they are also highly resilient. The project captures and disseminates learning about how communities have responded to COVID-19, using videos, storytelling and audio recordings – often made by the communities themselves. 

In the subsequent discussion, we heard some important messages from other speakers:

  • Rose Wamalwa of Women’s Earth Alliance about grassroots resilience in Kenya:
    When women were given the platform to make decisions and take part in leadership, they took the opportunity and exercised the Indigenous knowledge they have to keep their families and communities safe.
  • David Mfitumukiza of Makerere University, Uganda, on COVID-19 lessons from local communities:
    Access to assets and social capital, including social networks, trust and community cohesion, were crucial for building resilience. (Note: David was one of the authors of a recent briefing providing a first assessment on how 15 local communities in the global South are building resilience in the face of COVID-19.)
  • Angeli Joyce Barafon of conservation NGO Rare in the Philippines:
    Effective communication is essential, and organisations need to work together with regional governments and local leaders to ensure communities feel heard and supported.

Films from the frontlines – cast your vote!

CBA15 is hosting a film competition featuring five short films on local climate adaptation and community-based adaptation projects. Thought-provoking and informative, the films bring to life how communities from around the world are adapting to the challenges of climate change.  

Stories of solutions from around the world

The films show: 

  • Nature-based solutions are helping communities adapt in the dry corridor of Central America and arid regions of the Dominican Republic as droughts and hurricanes worsen (Soluciones Basadas en la Naturaleza para el Corredor Seco y Zonas Áridas de República Dominicana – in Spanish with English subtitles)
  • How vulnerable populations in informal settlements in Tanzania and Kenya are using weather forecasting and early warning systems to build their resilience (The Story of DARAJA and James)
  • How women's groups in rural communities in Badin, Pakistan are adopting climate-smart agricultural techniques including low-cost kitchen gardening practices (Building Resilient Communities in Pakistan Project Portfolio)
  • Local communities living in the isolated riverine areas of Jamuna River in Bangladesh are adapting to floods, such as through plinth raising – when clusters of villages are raised above flood levels to provide shelter and protect possessions, including cattle (Ground zero to Climate Adaptation: Local climate fighters in Bangladesh bringing Global Solutions), and
  • Ecosystem-based adaptation techniques are helping build climate resilience in Bhojdari, a village in semi-arid India (Ecosystem-based Adaptation in Maharashtra, India: Voices from the ground).

You can see all the films via a playlist in IIED's YouTube channel

Vote now!

CBA15 participants are invited to vote for their favourite film on the conference platform; the winner will be announced at Friday’s closing plenary. 

How can citizen-led data collection drive innovation?

Innovation is one of the five themes at CBA15, and this morning we heard about how citizen-led data collection can impact adaptation outcomes in a session led by Practical Action, the Huairou Commission and Slum Dwellers International (SDI).

Mathew Okello from Practical Action described work to address flooding in low-income settlements in the city of Kisumu in Kenya. 

Okello said: “Climate data is in the hands of very few people. More often than not, the ordinary person on the ground doesn't have the ability to make decisions that affect them the most.”

“How useful is this information if it's not in the hands of the people who need to use it?” – Mathew Okello, Practical Action

Okello said taking action at the local level can make a big difference to outcomes during crises – for example, simply by opening draining systems during floods. 

He said: “The local people are the first ones to respond when there is an emergency. They know which people are likely to be the worst affected – we need to appreciate that both as development practitioners and as local governments. Through empowering community associations, they've been able to improve sanitation. This is a powerful example of how local mapping has been able to positively influence local government at the local level.”

The session also heard from Veronika Katulushi, a grassroots leader and national health facilitator of the Zambia Homeless and Poor People’s Federation. She described how her local community does community mapping using GPS and shares the data they collect with local authorities. 

Christine Mutuku, an SDI leader in Nairobi, Kenya, described how they used focus groups to inform local people about why information is collected. Her project worked on listing local infrastructure and used GPS to locate facilities. 

Sonia Fadrigo Cadornigara, regional coordinator, HPFPI/SDI in the Philippines, described how data collected by homeless federations helped the community to secure land and better housing.

We shouldn’t treat poor people as if they have no brains – Sheela Patel, SDI

The session included a lively online chat session. Sheela Patel, founder of SPARC, noted that in many cities, there's little communication between the emergency services (for example, fire brigades) and the places where they are needed. When local communities produced maps, that made the city authorities more conscious of where things were and that people didn't know whom to contact when there were emergencies. 

Sheila said: “When the information is considered useful, that’s when the governments pay attention. The minute people see the value of citizen participation, it becomes institutionalised. 

“Good practices have to exponentially get institutionalised – it’s not one thing at a time.”

Who’s joining CBA15? 

We’re talking to participants to find out more about their interests and hear about their hopes for the event. 

Unlocking support for Indigenous-led innovation – Mariana Lopez, Pawanka Fund, Argentina

A photo of Mariana Lopez during a video call.

Mariana Lopez works for the Pawanka Fund, a fund that supports Indigenous organisations and institutions around the world

Mariana Lopez is programme director at Pawanka Fund, a fund led by Indigenous Peoples from around the world. Pawanka Fund works to revitalise traditional knowledge to manage and build resilience to the impacts of climate change. 

Lopez is particularly interested in CBA15’s theme on innovation for adaptation. She told us: “The climate is deeply rooted in the lives and livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples. For centuries they have been innovating to adapt and build resilience to climate change. 

“A big part of the Pawanka Fund’s work is building relationships and networks – so I’m looking forward to these sessions and exploring with others how building partnerships can really support Indigenous-led innovation in the face of climate change.” 

And with the pandemic speeding the shift to an increasingly virtual world, Lopez is keen to experience how others are connecting digitally at CBA15. Lopez says: “We’re really interested in seeing what others are doing – how sessions are being organised, what platforms, tools and methods are being used. 

“Like CBA15, the Pawanka Fund connects local to global − from Indigenous communities at the grassroots through to international advocacy platforms – so I’m looking forward to learning about how others are engaging and adapting to the online world."

Day 1

"2021 is a critical year for action": LDC chair

CBA15 opened with a plenary session headlined by Sonam P. Wangdi, chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group at the UN climate negotiations. The LDC Group represents the 46 countries that are most vulnerable to climate change, despite having done least to cause it. 

Wangdi told participants that 2021 is a ‘critical year’ for action on climate, biodiversity loss and poverty. 

Wangdi said that while the world’s attention has been focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, the crises on climate, biodiversity loss and poverty were continuing – and the stakes have never been higher than today.

Wangdi said: "This year, our collective desire to bounce back stronger from the pandemic presents a tremendous opportunity. The COP15 on biological diversity and COP26 on climate change will be held towards the end of this year. 

“We must use these moments to recommit ourselves and call the major economic leaders to provide leadership to deliver ambitious NDCs to close the ambition gap, to keep the 1.5° Celsius goal within reach, and to scale up support for real actions on the ground – in particular for locally led adaptation actions.”

Catalytic grants to give wings to local adaptation and resilience ideas

This year, CBA15 will feature an exciting opportunity for all attendees to apply for Catalytic Grant Awards (three available awards of US$5,000 each), a joint effort by the Global Resilience Partnership (GRP), the Climate Justice Resilience Fund (CJRF) and the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD)

These awards seek to catalyse greater and lasting collaboration among Southern-based groups within CBA’s vibrant community of academics and practitioners. The awards will provide seed funding so collaborative ideas sparked during the event can grow and flourish. 

The first five winning teams were selected at Gobeshona and will be sharing their experiences with the CBA community at the session entitled ‘Local efforts on financing climate adaptation and risk reduction: lessons from Asia and Africa’ on 16 June.

Teams interested in applying for the grant must be composed of at least 50% from the global South and be a mix of academics, practitioners, community-based organisations and grassroots representatives. Teams should also include members from traditionally under-represented groups such as young people, women, Indigenous groups and people living with disabilities. 

"These grants have been created to connect the already vibrant community that comes together at Gobeshona, CBA, and Development & Climate Days, but extend the opportunity for collaborations to create a sense of continuity and progress between events. So instead of disconnecting from CBA15 on Friday, three teams can win financial support to continue working on an exciting idea that was sparked during the week!" explained Anastasia Brainich, head of policy at GRP.

IIED’s Sam Greene, CBA15 programme lead, added: “Collaboration lies at the very heart of the CBA community and is what drives all the amazing ideas that emerge during these events. These grants are an exciting way to harness the energy that generates new ideas. So if you’re taking part in CBA15 – perhaps in a thematic session, during a skillshare or through the Slack channel – and you develop an idea, funding is available to take that idea further. We want to hear from you!”

The grants are open to CBA15-registered participants. For more information and to apply, join the dedicated Slack channel #catalytic-grants on the CBA15 platform.

Who’s joining CBA15? 

CBA15 brings together hundreds of practitioners, grassroots representatives, local and national government planners, policymakers and donors for five days of discussions, workshops, networking and training. 

We’re talking to participants to find out what sessions interest them most and to hear about their hopes for the event. 

At CBA15 we’re all equals – David Silakan, PARAN, Kenya

David Silakan is programme coordinator at Pastoralists Alliance for Resilience and Adaptation in Northern Rangelands (PARAN), based in Kenya. He is particularly interested in following CBA15’s climate finance theme, which will be exploring what needs to be done to get grassroots communities better access to climate finance. 

A photo of David Silakan.

David Silakan is especially interested in following CBA15’s climate finance theme

For Silakan, CBA15 presents a crucial platform for shifting power and challenging the complex bureaucratic processes that make accessing climate finance onerous for grassroots communities.

He says: “In international climate finance dialogues, the money holders are the agenda holders. CBA15 is about power sharing – getting a place at the table for grassroots voices. In the CBA community, we’re all equals – whether you’re a grassroots representative, practitioner, policymaker, government planner, researcher or donor – there’s no commander, no one group is setting the rules.” 

The next UNFCCC climate summit, COP26, is increasingly being seen as an important milestone for countries to increase the ambition of their commitments to tackle the climate emergency. CBA15 is a key moment to push for accountability, to ensure countries deliver on their climate commitments. The pandemic has shown what is possible.

Silakan says: “We saw how the COVID-19 crisis brought solidarity between the haves and have-nots. We saw the international community respond with great energy. Now we need this same level of commitment to find solutions to the climate crisis. All countries must hold themselves accountable for the promises they’ve made.”