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A Daily Report of the Second International Conference on Climate, Sustainability and Sustainable Development in Semi-arid Regions
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Volume 177 Number 3 - Thursday, 19 August 2010
ICID 2010 HIGHLIGHTS
Wednesday, 18 August 2010

On Wednesday, participants at ICID convened throughout the day in thematic panel sessions and roundtables organized around the four sub-themes of the conference: climate information; climate and sustainable development; climate governance, representation, rights, equity and justice; and climate policy processes. During the morning and lunch period, poster sessions were presented. The day concluded with a keynote speech by Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Earth Institute, Columbia University, US.

KEYNOTE SPEECH

 Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Earth Institute, Columbia University, US, warned that “we may be losing the battle” on anthropogenic climate change and the state of the drylands, underscoring the many climate-linked catastrophes in the past year, accompanied by “miserable outcomes” on the political front.

Noting the focus of ICID 2010 on producing a message for Rio+20, he suggested the outcomes should also be taken to regional meetings on drylands and the UN High-level Summit on Progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to be held from 20 – 22 September 2010.

He recommended the ICID 2010 final declaration: declare the climate crisis in semi-arid lands a growing global security threat and a direct threat to the fulfillment of the MDGs; call for a UN Security Council special session on violence, security and semi-arid lands; and advocate the formation of a new political Alliance of Semi-Arid Countries (ASAC) at the MDG Summit to speak in a unified voice at the UNFCCC COP 16 in Cancún, Mexico. He suggested that the ASAC should call for the: timely disbursement of adaptation funding, with the priority being hard-hit ASAC countries; faster progress in global mitigation efforts; the implementation of a global carbon tax to finance adaptation and mitigation efforts; large-scale solar power programmes in ASAC countries where appropriate, focusing on regions trapped in energy poverty and where large-scale solar power has obvious commercial feasibility.

In the morning and afternoon, 24 thematic panel sessions and roundtables convened to address issues related to climate change adaptation, vulnerability and sustainable development. In addition to these broad themes, panels addressed specific case studies and some focused on elements such as carbon sequestration, finance, conservation of native species and inter-basin water transfers. A selection of panel sessions is presented below.

THEMATIC PANEL SESSIONS

SESSION 3.1.1 FINANCING STRATEGIES FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN ARID AND SEMI-ARID REGIONS: In the morning, Chair José Sydrião de Alencar Junior, President, Banco do Nordeste (BNB), Brazil, opened the session noting the importance of financing for development in semi-arid regions.

Jaime Mano, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Brazil, emphasized five key areas for investment in semi-arid regions, including: infrastructure; poverty reduction and social inclusion; improved living conditions in cities; water; and competitiveness. Rommel Acevedo, Secretary General, Latin American Association of Financing Institutions for Development, Peru, underscored the emergence of innovative programmes in Latin American countries to provide financing for underserved rural areas to support development of rural enterprises. Mark Lundell, World Bank, described the Bank’s activities in the semi-arid regions of Brazil. He noted that the projects supported sustainable economic activities, natural resource management, rural poverty reduction, and development of legal frameworks and management to improve water efficiency.

Branca Americano, Ministry of Environment (MMA), Brazil, highlighted the new Brazilian National Fund on Climate Change, saying R$200 million will be invested in mitigation and adaptation in the coming year. She explained that the fund was created from existing funds under the Oil Act, originally intended to mitigate disasters caused by the oil industry, by redefining the impacts that these funds could address. Chair Alencar highlighted the ongoing process to establish the Caatinga Fund to provide investment in northeast Brazil.

SESSION 3.2.1 FOOD SECURITY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND DEVELOPMENT IN
SEMI-ARID REGIONS:
In the morning, Chair Abdou Kaza, Minister of Water, Environment and the Fight Against Desertification, Niger, opened the session, noting that food security is a major concern of our time and that lack of food will compromise development in developing regions.

Ghani Chehbouni, French Institute for Research and Development (IRD), Egypt, said that food security is a basic right and need of all humans. He noted the uncertainty in climate change forecasts and rainfall predictions, and called for the exchange of knowledge, research and ideas. Eduardo Delgado Assad, Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), Brazil, highlighted examples of Brazilian projects to reduce crop losses with model forecasts and noted that some municipalities have land-use projections specifiying which crops can be planted successfully in their areas.

Cheikh Oumar Ba, Initiative Prospective Agricole et Rurale (IPAR), Senegal, underscored the importance of agriculture for food production, job creation and increasing economic activity. He noted that the Senegalese government must reinforce socioeconomic investments as well as enable access to foreign markets to counteract decreasing food production. Patrick Caron, Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD), France, stressed that while agricultural production need not increase, access to food and other basic necessities must increase. He called for effective market governance and underscored the need to produce better quality food more efficiently, with more diversity.

Senegal's Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Amadou Tidiane Ba, said that no single solution to the issue of food security exists and suggested that the problem be solved taking into account local conditions. He emphasized the importance of water availability for food security and called for technical assistance from other countries, such as Brazil.

SESSION 3.2.4 BIODIVERSITY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND DEVELOPMENT IN DRY AND SUB-HUMID LANDS: At this morning session chaired by Sergio Zelaya, UNCCD, Aderbal Corrêa, International Center for Arid and Semi-arid Land Studies (ICASALS), US, discussed methods of teaching the values of developing biodiversity-based livelihoods. He compared and contrasted histories of rubber and the açai palm cultivation in Brazil.

Ana Maria Guacho Orozco, Guaman Poma Ayala, Ecuador, discussed her personal journey in becoming involved in and recovering semi-arid land in Ecuador known as “Loma Mama Doña,” largely without outside assistance using traditional knowledge and native plant species. She urged everyone to work together to take direct action to protect biodiversity and recover degraded areas, and not wait for international negotiations to produce concrete results.

Chair Zelaya delivered a presentation on behalf of Jaime Webbe, CBD, on addressing linkages between biodiversity loss, climate change and land degradation using three basic approaches: ecosystem restoration; improved protected-areas management; and an ecosystem-based approach for adaptation. He said that maximizing co-benefits requires establishing baselines, using existing tools, conducting economic valuations, prioritizing actions and practicing adaptive management.

Zelaya also made a brief presentation explaining the “UN Land” initiative on global drylands to be formally launched with a report targeted at the UNFCCC COP 16, taking place in Cancún, Mexico, in December 2010.

SESSION 3.2.5 VULNERABILITY AND ADAPTATION – IMPLICATIONS OF CLIMATE CHANGE AT MACRO AND MICRO LEVELS IN CHINA: In the morning session, Nengzhi Qian, State Forestry Administration, China, presented on key measures and achievements in China’s forestry sector for combating climate change. He said China hopes to have afforested 47 million hectares of land by 2050, and noted the increased awareness of the importance of forests to climate change mitigation at the local level.

Zhang Yue, China Agricultural University, presented on the vulnerability of farmers to climate change in semi-arid regions in China, outlined some local adaptive strategies, including “anti-vulnerability development,” and lauded the government for stepping in to support local adaptation measures.

Lamenting the lack of effective communication between climate scientists and local communities, Xu Xiuli, Agricultural University of Beijing, China, asked “what climate change means to local people,” noting that the theory within the climate change discourse is not easily translated to communities on the ground.  She stressed the inclusion of local farmers’ narratives on climate change in the broader climate change discourse, noting that many adaptive measures are carried out “unconsciously,” as people adapt to changes as a matter of course.

Lu Caizhen, Chinese Academy of Science, presented on coping, adaptation and vulnerability to drought in southwest China, describing the impact of water shortages and increased food prices, and called for the involvement of locals in national decision-making processes.

On decentralization and local adaptation to climate change in Yunnan Province in southwest China, He Jun, World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), China, noted that policy gaps hinder local adaptation measures. He called for the institutionalization and scaling-up of local participation coupled with effective power-transfer from the national level to the local level.

SESSION 3.3.5 VULNERABILITY AND COPING IN RURAL AREAS: Angela Küster, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Brazil, discussed efforts to promote “agro-ecology” in northeastern Brazil to help semi-arid ecosystems and small-scale farmers. She explained agro-ecology emphasizes certain social-ecological values, reducing external inputs, using alternative farming practices and designing agro-ecosystems. She warned that there is an urgent need to develop a set of indicators defining agro-ecology before the term is co-opted and misused.

Joy Obando, Kenyatta University, Kenya, presented the results of a study reducing the vulnerability of pastoralist communities to climate change and variability in northern Kenya. She said its findings indicate that the increase in droughts and floods will negatively affect pastoral livelihoods both directly and indirectly through the loss of livestock, and that national climate change policies must include guidelines on adaptation within pastoral systems, addressing both livestock issues and alternative livelihood options.

Woldetinsac Tewolde, Asmara University, Eritrea, discussed climate variability reduction measures in semi-arid lands in Eritrea, including: local community empowerment through “environmental management cells”; new forms of symbiotic cooperation between pastoralists and commercial farmers; community forestry schemes; school-based afforestation programmes; and the establishment of an early warning system for semi-arid lands capable of predicting climate impacts on forage supplies and crop production.

SESSION 3.4.2 CLIMATE EVOLUTION IN WEST AFRICA – TRADITIONAL AND FORMAL GOVERNANCE: Chair Peter Hochet, IRD, Burkina Faso, introduced the session and gave a brief description of ongoing research on natural resource management in the Sahelian countries of Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mali.

Cheick Oumar Ba, IPAR, Senegal, presented on the governance of natural resources, describing state-initiated strategies to reduce resource degradation, but warned that these strategies will be unsuccessful without community involvement.

Moussa Djiré, University of Bamako, Mali, presented a case study on participatory sustainable natural resource management, calling for direct community involvement and stressing that all policies should account for realities on the ground.

On the management of natural resources and land rights, Luigi Arnaldi, Laboratoire-Citoyennetés, Burkina Faso, highlighted the degradation of natural resources due to influxes in migrant communities in the Sahel. He called for states and development partners to help regulate natural resources in areas with large migrant populations.

Chair Hochet spoke about policies in Burkina Faso favoring agriculturalists over pastoralists in a traditionally pastoral region of Burkina Faso, noting that the administration was unable to carry out a proper investigation and had thus made an uniformed decision. He lamented that implementation of this policy exacerbates conflict between the agriculturalists and the pastoralists.

SESSION 3.4.4 SOCIAL LEARNING AND HUMAN CAPACITY – HIGHER EDUCATION CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT PROCESSES FOR CLIMATE CHANGE IN AFRICA: In the afternoon John Colvin, Open University, UK, chaired the session. Sheona Shackleton, Rhodes University, South Africa, on a conceptual framework for integrating social learning into higher education and research, stressed that climate change adaptation education must be focused on problem solving, be interdisciplinary, involve social studies and the arts, and look at integrated solutions.

Mphemalang Ketholiwe, University of Botswana, and Tichaono Pasanyi, Southern African Development Community, presented on the Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability in Africa Universities Partnership Project. They highlighted outcomes of the programme, including: conceptualizing the relevance of education for sustainable development; designing and applying innovative approaches to teaching, research and community services; and developing and applying innovative strategies to strengthen institutional capacity.

Carolyn Palmer, National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa, presented on research and social learning in policy and practice for sustainability. She noted that the NRF has created a new directorate on applied research to increase innovation within the value chain, focus on public good issues and natural resources, and broker relationships.

Mphemelang Kethilowe, University of Gaborone, Botswana, on issues to consider when integrating education into sustainable development in the context of climate change, noted that the research was in the semi-arid region of Botswana, examined gender aspects of climate change. He said that communities had developed new knowledge, in addition to traditional knowledge. He noted an emphasis on cooperation within and between communities to sustain resources and increase resilience to climate change, largely influenced by social learning.

SESSION 3.4.5 GLOBAL NETWORK OF DRYLAND RESEARCH INSTITUTES: In the afternoon, this session, chaired by Roberto Germano, National Institute of the Semi-Arid (INSA), Brazil, addressed the importance of research into the challenges faced by drylands.

Uriel Safriel, Jacob Blaustein Institutes of Desert Research (BIDR), Israel, discussed the Global Network of Dryland Research Institutes (GNDRI), noting its objectives to exchange information and ideas, reduce duplication, as well as pursue joint research and funding opportunities.

Elena Abraham, Argentine Institute for Research on Arid Lands (IADIZA), Argentina, noted that the network is relatively young and that capacity building should be prioritized. Sergio Roig, IADIZA, Argentina, highlighted the objectives of his institute, including increasing knowledge of dryland ecosystems and improving sustainable use of natural and cultural resources.

Ahmed Amri, International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Syria, noted that food security, poverty alleviation and protecting natural resource bases are addressed by ICARDA through: research on water management; agricultural systems for the vulnerable poor; economic and social policies; biodiversity; and crop diversification.

Hari Upadhyaya, International Crops Research for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), India, underscored ICRISAT’s “mini core collection,” which provides a gateway to genetic resources to identify traits for creating climate ready crops.

Aderbal Correa, ICASALS, US, emphasized that the interdisciplinary nature of dryland challenges requires interdisciplinary education to address those challenges.

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The ICID 2010 Bulletin is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <info@iisd.ca>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <enb@iisd.org>. This issue was written and edited by Tallash Kantai, Kate Louw, Keith Ripley, and Anna Schulz. The Digital Editor is Angeles Estrada. The Editor is Leonie Gordon <leonie@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958-7710. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (in HTML and PDF format) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at <http://www.iisd.ca/>. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11A, New York, New York 10022, United States of America. The IISD team at ICID 2010 can be contacted by e-mail at <anna@iisd.org>.

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