Toulmin: More power to the people to tackle climate change

12 May 2014

Camilla Toulmin, director of the International Institute for Environment and Development, has called for a "reversal of power and decision making" to give local communities a greater say in tackling climate change.

IIED director Camilla Toulmin makes a key speech during the closing ceremony of CBA8

Toulmin made the remarks during the closing ceremony of the 8th international conference on community based adaptation to climate change, which took place in Kathmandu, Nepal, in April 2014.

"My own understanding of adaptation and reliance draws very much from following over the past 35 years the process of change of a small village in Mali, West Africa," she said. "Over that period, they have been dealing with drought, managing scarce water, and growing different crops and diversifying livelihoods, and this has given me a fundamental respect for the knowledge, innovation and capacity that we find at field level in village communities across the world.

"It's also taught me that national and local governments can make a big difference to that local capacity when they recognise and support that local knowledge.

"At IIED, we've been testing out and learning from local systems for planning and financing the building of resilience to climate change, and what we've learned, whether from urban or rural areas, is that it's not just the amount of money available – although 50 per cent of the Green Climate Fund to adaptation would be great – but also how the funds are delivered.

"It's about reversing power and decision-making, and recognising that local people have huge untapped knowledge, skills and innovation capacity."

Toulmin also spoke of her support of the Kathmandu Declaration announced at the end of CBA8, which called for a radical shift in flows of finance to ensure the most vulnerable communities can adapt to climate change.

Watch all of the speeches at the opening and closing ceremonies of CBA8 on a YouTube playlist, or scroll through the six videos of key speakers below.

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