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Saturday, November 1, 2014, Kartik 17, 1421, Muharram 7, 1436 Hijr

Building resilience for a climate smart society
Choyon Kumar Saha
Publish Date : 2014-11-01,  Publish Time : 00:00,  View Count : 91
Nowadays, we all together are residing in a vulnerable planet, where 'all that is holy is profaned'- presaged by Karl Marx in 'The Communist Manifesto' - by either intended or inadvertent anthropogenic functions alone, sullying metabolic interaction between human and the nature, and sprouting immense havocs on earth. The most menacing defilement, however, in conjunction with contaminating groundwater, soil, water-bodies, coastal and marine ecosystems etc, is the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into air mainly from burning tropical forests from Amazon to Congo for making farmlands that accounts for up to a fifth of all GHGs, and warmed the earth's climate throughout the last decades.
According to the IPCC's (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) latest Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), atmospheric levels of three GHGs are now higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years, and presently it is exacerbating by five giant emitters --- China, US, EU, India, and Brazil. Currently, the Policy Analysis of Greenhouse Effect version 9 (PAGE09) inferences that global GHGs concentration level will continue to mount from nearly 400 parts per million (ppm) today to over 450ppm by 2025, and it is expected to reach at 880ppm in 2100 that might further the planetary warming. If present emission trends and pledges continue, the global community will experience a 3?C-5?C rise of annual mean surface air temperature by the end of the 21st century that is anticipated by the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) in 2001.
The projection of the AR5 of IPCC entitled "Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis" warns, ocean warming alone dominates the total heating rate as ocean warmed between 700m and 2000m from 1957 to 2010.
For Bangladesh, the temperature would ascend in the range of 0.9?C-1.9?C in 2030, 1.6?C-2.5?C in 2050, and 2.9?C-4.2?C in 2080 (projected by the IPCC's SRES in 2001) that likely results to tropical cyclones, storm surges, floods, droughts, typhoons, erosion, sea level rise, arsenic content in groundwater, water-logging and salinity in soil and water. These extreme climatic shocks contribute to the rapid decline of national GDP estimated at 2 per cent by 2050, warned by the Asian Development Bank in its report in 2014 entitled "Assessing the Costs of Climate Change and Adaptation in South Asia".
However, demanding measures to halt the decisive shocks of planetary climate change, the UN Secretary-General invited the Heads of State and Government, together with leaders from business, finance, private sector and civil society to partake in 'Climate Summit 2014' held on 23rd September at New York, and made brave commitments to action in building 'resilience' (ability of a system to absorb perturbations or bounce forward while a system faces external disturbances) along with other seven areas --- agriculture, cities, energy, financing, forests, industry and transportation.
For building resilience into communities and nations aiming at addressing the magnitude and dire consequences of climatic shocks, the 'Climate Summit-2014' put emphasis on following action areas: 1) strengthening the access and use of seasonal climate data and related information; 2) integrating the costs of climate-related risks into the finance and development sectors; 3) risk financing especially innovation in disaster and climate risk funds, and 4) making cities resilient acceleration initiatives.
As regards, expanded range of information regarding climate variability (e.g., rainfalls variation, precipitation pattern, erratic temperature, heat waves, wind flow, and likelihood, speed, intensity and severity of hazard) might be effective for disaster vulnerable communities of southern and northern Bangladesh to adopt relevant actions to generate resilient responses to the negative consequences of hazards. The expenses sprouted from disaster/climate-induced risks and vulnerabilities should be incorporated into our fast-growing development sectors especially for housing and industrial sectors that would facilitate the risk financing or climate risk funds.
Concurrently, innovating Climate Risk Insurance Facility (CRIF) for highly affected people involved in climate sensitive livelihoods (e.g., agriculture and shrimp culture) is an efficacious resilient action to absorb the disturbances that has already initiated in small-island states, prone to natural hazards including Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance. Before adopting actions for building resilience, it is undoubtedly required to identify the 'elements at risk' to climatic shocks and natural disasters of specific hazard-prone zone (It is stated in my recent seminal article published from 'Natural Hazards' in 2014 entitled "Dynamics of disaster-induced risk in south-western coastal Bangladesh: an analysis on tropical Cyclone Aila 2009") that would facilitate the communities to be self-organised and resilient for tackling the persistent shocks.
In addition, Building resilience predominantly relies on the 'redundancy' --- keeping back-ups to support during emergency --- of a system; while one system is affected then other systems help the affected communities to absorb the climatic shocks. For instance, available cyclone shelters in a cyclone-prone coastal village act as supportive system for affected communities if their homesteads damage by disaster. Hence, introducing a greater degree of redundancy into our national disaster risk reduction (DRR) action plans would facilitate a greater efficiency in response to future hazards and the more resilient system.
Similarly, community resilience might be built through strengthening people's response capacities to hazard based on information and resources, supporting vulnerable people to be self-organised to absorb the sudden climatic shocks in cross-scalar dimensions, fostering their knowledge, learning and education regarding hazard forecasting, information, mitigation and instant coping system, as well as uplifting people's adaptive capacity for the long run.
Furthermore, promoting the 'diversification of resource dependency' (generating multiple socioeconomic niches) might also be administered into our climate adaptation plan for building resilience as dependent on a single resource or ecosystem severely acts as stumbling block to community's ability/capacity to absorb the sudden shocks of climate extremes.
For building climate resilience, however I think, necessitates an integrative multi-scalar engagement of state actors, vulnerable communities, local government institutions, non-government organisations, cooperatives, business firms, financial organisations, civil society, religious leaders, and housing corporations who can effectively mobilise the limited resources for constituting a climate smart society, and formulate the action plans for a national agreement on mainstreaming climate resilience.r
The writer is Lecturer at the department of Sociology, Jagannath University. Email:  [email protected]

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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