The world is rapidly approaching a tipping point when it comes to preventing many of the catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis. Across the world, communities are already beset by extreme weather events with tragic results.
As the realities of climate change become ever present, more attention is being paid to adaptation, the ability for communities and countries to minimize the damage climate change is bringing.
Throughout October and November 2022, Common Futures Conversations members from Africa and Europe discussed climate adaptation and generated ideas for how their communities, cities, and countries could better adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Develop climate-smart agriculture
Milton Okello, Uganda
Climate change poses serious risks to the growth of economies, poverty mitigation, food safety, and political stability. These dangers are magnified by high fuel and fertilizer prices, stiff competition for an inadequate amount of quality food and water supplies, and cumulative environmental dilapidation.
Unfortunately, the African continent has been the most vulnerable to the climate change crises. As a result of reduced rainfall and rising temperatures, and subsequent drought and increasing floods, it is projected that, by the year 2050, most of Africa will experience a significant decline in the harvest of crops such as rice, maize, and wheat.
Smallholder farmers in the rural areas of Uganda should embrace the use of climate-smart agriculture practices as a strategy to adapt to the impacts of climate change. This approach seeks to future-proof livelihoods against the devastation climate change can bring to farms.
Some of the practices which can be adopted include crop rotation, intercropping, timely weeding, mulching, land preparation, mixed cropping, small-scale irrigation, soil and water conservation, and the use of drought-tolerant forages among others.
When access to information about these practices is shared among smallholder farmers then families, societies, and food systems can become more resilient to climate-associated shockwaves.
Farmers, and the entire food system, must adapt to the impacts of climate change, improve their resilience, and harness opportunities to sustainably feed growing populations.
Create ‘cool rooms’ for vulnerable groups
Dinah Moeller, Germany
Heat stress, the condition in which the human body is unable to rid itself of excess heat, is considered the leading cause of weather-related deaths in Europe and those living in socially disadvantaged urban areas are particularly at risk.
High-rise concrete buildings made of heat-accumulating materials with poor insulation and little air circulation pose a major health threat to residents, especially those already suffering from chronic conditions.
As days with temperatures above 30 degrees centigrade become more frequent due to climate change, it is crucial to create facilities which protect the most vulnerable groups from heat-related ailments and prevent further heat deaths in societies.
Cool rooms allow the body to relax, adapt to the milder ambient temperature, and get rid of excess bodily heat, and so should be developed to prevent such deaths. To support the current energy revolution, it is crucial to ensure these rooms are built according to the highest energy efficiency standards and use up-to-date green infrastructural technologies such as geothermal cooling pumps and green rooftops.
As well as creating an emergency health measure, community-owned cool rooms with 24/7 access also present an opportunity to strengthen community bonds in socially disadvantaged areas.
Smallholder farmers need climate change insurance
Ilaria Marchese, Switzerland
Although extreme weather events linked to climate change are not selective with regards to income levels, the capacity to adapt to climate change is, and smallholder farmers in developing countries are particularly vulnerable to the impact of extreme weather events as their livelihoods are dependent on seasonal harvest.
A new climate insurance mechanism for such farmers through a public-private partnership would help, with the insurance subscribed to by national or regional governing bodies on behalf of smallholder farmers in their region, and made accessible to low-income countries according to World Bank classifications.
Subscription in this way would allow the pooling of different risk profiles together, minimizing insurance premiums and limiting the administrative burden on smallholder farmers. The insurance would use a blended finance mechanism by which private sector commodity buyers and development agencies would pay the insurance premium in exchange for smallholders’ farmers adopting climate-smart agricultural practices.
Local authorities would finance the monitoring mechanism, and national authorities would benefit from greater climate adaptation as smallholder farmers insurance would decrease their risk of indebtedness in case of an extreme weather event.
The benefit for smallholder farmers is they would receive compensation from an extreme weather event, and the benefit for the private sector would be lower greenhouse gas emissions in the global value chain.
Development agencies could also participate as this initiative would increase developing countries’ resilience and climate change mitigation – a key objective for advanced economies – as climate-smart agriculture increases carbon sequestration.
Empower more citizen assemblies
Iheanyi Genius Amaraizu, Nigeria
With the climate now changing faster than previously imagined, a mindset is needed which goes beyond politics. The political quagmire which makes moving forward on climate action difficult can be waded through using citizen assemblies.