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Major new fund needed to boost communities' climate solutions

A new multi-billion pound fund is needed to support local communities’ efforts to cope with the devastating effects of climate change, says a Christian Aid report today, at the start of a round of international talks on tackling the crisis.

Some poor communities in developing countries are already successfully adapting to the increasingly harsh climate but many more need support to adapt and develop in ways which will not exacerbate global warming.

‘Local communities need to become a central part of the international action agreed at Copenhagen and not an afterthought,’ says the report’s lead author, Dr Alison Doig.

‘They are not just the victims of climate change – they also have a significant role to play in the solutions.’

Read our report

Christian Aid is calling for the UN climate talks in Copenhagen to create a new Sustainable Development Innovation Facility, which would receive 10 per cent of each developing country’s climate funding. 

The Facility would be funded by rich countries, as part of their overall contribution to helping developing countries cope with climate change and develop in ways that are relatively climate-friendly.

Christian Aid believes that rich countries’ overall annual contribution should amount to more than €110 billion.

Money from the Facility would be channelled through community-based organisations, civil society groups, local private companies and local governments.

It would be used to support pilot projects of innovative approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation and to support the extension of existing projects, says the report, Community Answers to Climate Chaos.

Key climate change meetings

The report comes as three key international meetings are due to take place. 

World leaders will meet today (Tuesday 22) at the UN’s high-level climate summit in New York. On 24 and 25 September, the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh will also discuss international action on climate change. Then on 28 September, the latest round of formal UN climate negotiations will open in Bangkok, Thailand.

Negotiators should agree on a plan of the sort described by the Christian Aid report, to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable communities are not left behind by the global response to climate change.

Dr Doig adds: ‘This report includes a host of inspiring examples of how poor communities are already adapting to climate change and developing in ways which are environmentally sustainable. Many more people could benefit from the sort of solutions they have discovered, if the financial and political support were available.’

Examples from the report

In drought-prone eastern Kenya , non-governmental organisations are building sub-surface dams in the beds of seasonal streams, which catch rainfall and help to improve water supplies. Each dam benefits around 630 people and helps communities to grow trees to replace those cut down for charcoal burning when people need income for food.

Half of rural homes in India  still lack electricity but in the state of Orissa, an organisation called Gram Vikas is providing homes in remote villages with piped water supplies, using standalone pumping systems powered by solar, gravity flow or biodiesel. Where solar power is used, homes can also have lighting.

In Nicaragua , which is likely to face more intense hurricanes in future, the Movimiento Comunal Nicaraguense has helped 35 communities to become disaster-resilient. Local people have been trained and flood-risks mapped  to enable communities to plan for disasters.  In addition, cyclone shelters have been built, river banks sandbagged, flood-prone houses relocated and trees planted in flood-prone areas.

In Zimbabwe , Christian Aid partner organisations have been working with communities in several districts to introduce them to conservation farming methods which improve soil structure and dramatically increase crop yields. At least 5,000 farmers have been trained, mostly by other farmers.
The new report argues that the Sustainable Development Innovation Facility should also be used to help civil society – including the most marginalised and vulnerable groups - to participate more effectively in local and national decision-making on climate change.

‘There has to be a clear path away from an approach which has been seen too often in recent years – that of producing a ‘climate change plan’ written by expensive international consultants appointed by a donor and then shelved and never delivered,’ it states.

In addition, the report stresses the importance of the Sustainable Development Innovation Fund being transparent, so that the citizens of developing countries can easily find out how much money has been given to whom, and for what purpose. ‘It is necessary that climate change funds are seen as belonging to citizens and not just countries,’ it urges.

See a copy of the new report here: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/images/community-answers-to-climate-chaos.pdf

Notes to Editors:

1) Abdullah Abdi of Northern Aid, a Christian Aid partner in Northern Kenya, will be in London from 23rd to 27th September and available for interview. He can give a first-hand account of the effects of climate change and how people are trying to cope, as well as talking about the current drought in Northern Kenya. To arrange an interview with him or Dr Alison Doig, or to obtain pictures to illustrate this story, contact Rachel Baird on 0207 523 2446 or 07545 501 749 or rbaird@christian-aid.org

2) Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the life they deserve.

3) Christian Aid is calling on Gordon Brown to press rich countries to commit to at least 40 per cent carbon emission reductions by 2020.  It also wants the UK government, along with other developed nations, to commit the necessary support and resources, including technology transfers, to enable developing countries to reduce emissions, develop in a low carbon way and adapt to climate change. In addition, Christian Aid says no new coal fired power stations should be built in the UK without carbon capture and storage facilities, which should also be retro-fitted to all older power stations when the technology is proven. 

4) Climate change is already depriving the poor in many developing countries of their livelihoods.  Christian Aid believes the battle against climate change is a key component in alleviating poverty.  We have a vision – an end to poverty.  Our new drive, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to make that vision a reality.  A strong climate deal at Copenhagen is one essential.  Details at www.christianaid.org.uk

5) Christian Aid is a member of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition. 11 million strong, we are the committed supporters, campaigners, hearts, minds and voices of over 100 organisations.

6) Together with faith-based development agencies in a number of other European countries, Christian Aid has launched a new climate justice campaign called  Countdown to Copenhagen. www.christianaid.org.uk/copenhagen

7) Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

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