CBA14: Opening remarks and plenary session

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The 14th International Conference on Community-based Adaptation to Climate Change (CBA14) opened on 21 September, 2020 by Sonam P. Wangdi from Bhutan, chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group group at the UN climate negotiations.

Wangdi said: “Despite the pandemic, the impacts of climate change continue to be clear and increasing. While fires are burning in California, intense flooding has damaged homes and destroyed livelihoods in Sudan, India, Yemen, Bangladesh and many more other locations. The urgency and ambition needed to fully prepare for the future must continue to increase if we are to protect ourselves and our communities.”

The opening plenary of the conference featured an international panel of speakers, moderated by Manish Bapna, executive director and vice president of the World Resources Institute.

The first speaker was Rosemary Atieno, who leads the NGO Community Mobilization for Positive Empowerment (COMPE) in Kenya. She reported on the impacts of COVID-19 on Kenyan communities and highlighted the importance of Indigenous knowledge and grassroots action on climate change.

The next speaker, Sheela Patel, chair of the international network Slum Dwellers International (SDI), spoke about the importance of connecting large national and international initiatives with vulnerable communities. SDI is a network of urban-poor organisations working in 500 cities in 33 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Patel said CBA14 had an opportunity to bring together and aggregate the voices of grassroots communities as they engage with policymakers.

Dr Muhammad Musa, executive director of the NGO BRAC International, which works in 12 countries in Asia and Africa, said it was important to acknowledge and respect the knowledge and skills of local communities – and move away from the label of ‘beneficiary’ and towards partnerships.

CBA14 is taking place online from 21-25 September 2020. It is the leading practitioner-focused forum on climate adaptation, delivering dialogue and evidence to inform policy and action – from the local to the global scale. It will bring together practitioners, grassroots representatives, policymakers and donors for interactive discussions, workshops and skillshares.

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