Musings from a first timer at a CBA conference

Bangladesh has become a "poster child" for adaptation work. For people working at a national level, attending CBA9 provides an opportunity to learn and share experiences internationally.


Masroora Haque's picture
Insight by 
Masroora Haque
30 April 2015
Workers build up the banks of the Teesta River in Bangladesh. Bangladesh already spends six per cent of its annual budget on climate change adaptation (Photo: International Rivers, Creative Commons via Flickr)

Workers build up the banks of the Teesta River in Bangladesh. Bangladesh already spends six per cent of its annual budget on climate change adaptation (Photo: International Rivers, Creative Commons via Flickr)

The 8th Community-Based Adaptation conference (CBA8) was my introduction to the world of adaptation. I had recently moved back from Canada to Bangladesh to work in development and was entertaining a group of visiting researchers whom I had met at a jam session in Dhaka. They had just returned from the CBA conference in Nepal and were talking about how much fun they'd had and the 'selfie' their director took with the Prime Minister of Nepal.

Right then, I knew that I had stumbled across an interesting bunch of people doing meaningful work. Soon after, these visiting researchers would become my colleagues and, 11 months later, here I am in Nairobi, attending CBA9.

In my role as the communications coordinator for the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), I develop and execute the communications plan and oversee all communications activities for the organisation.

Bangladesh has been the poster child for adaptation work and our primary activity at ICCCAD is adaptation research, projects and knowledge sharing. As such, CBA conferences are an excellent avenue to learn from the adaptation work happening across the world. The conference provides ample opportunity to not just learn, but also hone my communications skills through volunteering opportunities such as social media, writing and taking videos.

I am very grateful to be given the opportunity to go beyond my job description and try out new things such conducting field research, engaging with the UNFCCC process and attending events in Bangladesh and abroad. The most rewarding and fun part of my job is the exposure I get to one of the most interesting fields in development.

CBA conferences are widely referenced in the climate change community in Bangladesh. CBA7 in 2013 and CBA5 in 2011 were held in Dhaka and the events have a loyal following. This tight-knit community of researchers and practitioners has done truly impactful work – empowering local communities and informing policy.

The Action Research on Community Adaptation in Bangladesh (ARCAB) project was instrumental in developing the capacity of 13 INGOs to take on climate change projects. ARCAB held several conferences and workshops on community-based adaptation that run parallel to the discussions happening at CBA conferences, but at the national level.

Three years ago when the project started, very few people were doing work on climate change and now these organisations are collectively doing about US$100 million worth of projects in Bangladesh.

This group of CBA professionals often shares its experiences from the field and I have been very privileged to be part of these conversations at the various round tables and seminars that we host. These conversations are what piqued my interest to be here in Nairobi. Of course, attending CBA9 is also a chance for me to travel to Africa. It is my first time here and from what little I've seen of Nairobi, it is a beautiful place.

The venue for this year's conference, the Safari Park Hotel is gorgeous – a true embodiment of the phrase 'African paradise'. It is 64 acres of lush greenery, punctuated by quaint cottage style accommodation. The conference hall is grand and has all the facilities we need. I arrived two days before the conference and met many people from IIED with whom I've exchanged emails. It's good to finally put a face to those emails.

The conference programme is an impressive roster of the top climate change professionals in the world and I am looking forward to learning from the plenary and out-of-box sessions. The exposure to the ideas, information and learning from this conference is invaluable for a young professional like me.

I am looking forward to the networking opportunities, to forging new connections and catching up with old friends. This year's conference theme is 'Measuring and enhancing effective adaptation', and this will nicely complement the Masters programme in development studies in which I am enrolled at BRAC University. Our course on monitoring and evaluation is next semester and I am sure I'll impress my professor with the added knowledge I gain here.

I also curate a climate change page in the Dhaka Tribune newspaper that features opinions, research, solutions, challenges and stories from the field. My hope is that this conference will be a gateway to featuring the voices of those working in climate change in Kenya and all over the world.

CBA conferences are a testament to the solidarity and collective effort that exists among those fighting the good fight.

People come from far and wide to share ideas, knowledge and make every attempt to put the needs of communities affected by climate change at the forefront of their work. This is what inspires a newbie like me to continue working in this field.

Masroora Haque ([email protected]) is the coordinator for communications for the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) in Dhaka, Bangladesh