I’ve recently been working on a series of projects linking, in various ways, community-based adaptation to climate change, or CBA. These approaches highlight two very important assumptions:
1) communities are capable of understanding, and acting on, climate change impacts. This doesn’t mean that this can occur without support or facilitation or capacity building or knowledge enhancement.
2) communities therefore are not passive in the face of the impacts of climate change. This in turn means the development of projects, policies or approaches dealing with adaptation will require rethinking in terms of the role communities have in this. There needs to be a very clear understanding that these are based on, and framed by, communities as engaged social actors.
Increasingly agencies around the world are developing approaches to climate change adaptation which focus on communities as social actors. And it is very heartening to see this – civil society groups as actively engaged in their sustainable futures. This is quite a shift amongst some in their thinking.
Recognising these two points actually results in enormous potential for creative policy- and programme- making that is embedded in communities, is supported by communities and is useful for communities. Of course, this in turn will need important social analysis as well as participatory approaches to programme and policy formulation and implementation. These will be the bigger challenges. But the conversations are happening and this can only be a good thing.