New CARIAA brief on migration in climate change hotspots

DECCMA co-organises session on climate change, migration and adaptation at the South Asian Network on Economic Modelling annual conference in Bangladesh

by Saiful Alam

DECCMA co-organised a session with the South Asian Network on Economic Modelling on “Climate change, migration and adaptation: Challenges and way forward for Bangladesh” at the 3rd SANEM Annual Economists’ Conference 2018. The conference was titled “Leave no one behind in South Asia” and took place on February 17-18, 2018 in Mohakhali, Bangladesh.

Mashfiqus Salehin introduces the DECCMA project

Dr. Mashfiqus Salehin, IWFM, gave an overview of the aims and objectives of the DECCMA project and the ways in which it has investigated the nature of climate hazards, vulnerability, adaptation and migration in coastal Bangladesh. He explained the empirical evidence received from extensive stakeholder engagement, the analysis of vulnerability in the hotspots and concluded with the importance of household adaptations in the reduction of climate related vulnerability in the coastal region.

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Dr. Bazlul Haque Khondker and Zubayer Hossen from SANEM presented DECCMA’s economic framework. This involved the use of stakeholder consultation to provide insights into the Input-Output table of Computable General Equilibrium model in explaining its linkages with livelihood, income and other economic parameters in the agriculture-dominated coastal environment.

Panelists Dr. Anwara Begum, BIDS and Mr. Saiful Alam, DECCMA, discussed the gender dimensions of adaptation and how the research findings on livelihoods and adaptation can influence climate-related policy and planning in Bangladesh. In an open discussion, the panelists answered a number of question from the audience related to the relevance to climate policy and the Sustainable Development Goals.

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ESPA Deltas project publishes short film on creating a sustainable future for climate-vulnerable deltas

The Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation Delta Project has just published a short film that highlights its findings in Bangladesh. The project was concerned with assessing health, livelihoods, ecosystems and poverty alleviation in populous deltas to provide knowledge and tools to enable policy-makers to evaluate the effects of policy decisions on people’s livelihoods.

A multidisciplinary and multi-national team of policy analysts, social and natural scientists and engineers collectively used a participatory approach to create a model to formally evaluate ecosystem services and poverty in the context of the wide range of changes that are occurring. In the film, DECCMA Principle Investigator Professor Robert Nicholls and researcher Dr Helen Adams talk about the environmental and social stresses facing delta populations, from salinity and subsidence to poverty and marginalisation.

Synthesising migration findings in India from three CARIAA projects

by Sumana Banerjee

With the Collaborative Adaptation Research In Africa and Asia (CARIAA) programme slowly heading towards to a completion, the thrust is now upon what we have learnt together as a research programme. In India, CARIAA has three consortia working in the different hotspots- deltas (DECCMA), mountains (Hi-AWARE) and semi-arid areas (ASSAR). Built into the programme design was the idea of the Country Table which gave a chance to the three consortia to provide a national perspective on different topics.

DECCMA, ASSAR and HI-AWARE teams at the India meeting

The India Country Table had met earlier for workshops and meetings during the life of CARIAA but the workshop on migration which was held at Kolkata on 19th January 2018 was different as it was the first time that the three consortia came together to share their findings on migration.  DECCMA-India​ (​Jadavpur University) ​hosted this one-day workshop on migration on the 19th January 2018 in Kolkata which was attended by researchers of ASSAR from Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS) and Hi-AWARE from The Energy Resources Institute (TERI). Dr. K S Murali from IDRC was also present.

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Migration experts Prof S Chandrasekhar of Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR, India) ​and Dr Amina Maharjan of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD, Nepal)​ provided feedback on the findings.

For an effective Research into Use effort, the Indian Country Table decided to produce policy briefs on three topics – Hotspots (led by Hi-AWARE-TERI), Adaptation (led by ASSAR-IIHS) and Migration (led by DECCMA-JU) and then share these with relevant policy makers. While dissemination of findings is encouraged at this stage of the programme, we realised the need to use the one day workshop to gather a clearer understanding of where we stand vis-à-vis migration across the respective hotspots.

Synthesising findings across different disciplines, hotspots, and methodologies on a topic which was not envisaged to be researched upon on a same scale by all the three consortia was a challenge. Moving beyond one’s own research methodology and bringing together qualitative and quantitative findings required some discussion. The feedback and guidance from the experts helped us identify some themes which could guide us to tie the findings from the three consortia together.

The workshop was a success. How effective are workshops if they don’t make one “work”?! The team is now working on the India migration policy brief which should be available online by March 2018.

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ESPA Deltas holds final workshop with the Planning Commission in Bangladesh

by Saiful Alam

DECCMA builds on a project under the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme – ESPA Deltas. Following closure of ESPA Deltas in 2016 policy-makers in Bangladesh requested support in the use of tools developed within the project to assess the implications of government project proposals on ecosystem services and livelihoods in coastal Bangladesh. An additional year of funding was granted to ensure that the developed research could be translated into use to inform policy.

ESPA workshop (photo: Saiful Alam)

The final workshop of this extension project took place last week at the Planning Commission in Dhaka. Chaired by Professor Shamsul Alam, Senior Secretary in the General Economic Division of the Planning Commission, the workshop provided the opportunity for researchers to present their evaluations of the effect of three interventions proposed under the Delta Plan 2100.

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Research team members Professor Robert Nicholls and Dr Alex Chapman (University of Southampton) and Professors Md. Munsur Rahman, Mashfiqus Salehin and Anisul Haque (Institute of Water and Flood Management, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology) outlined the implications of three structural interventions under the Delta Plan 2100: ‘Green belt’ along the  coastal vulnerable area and sea walls along a selection of polders (sea-facing and a cluster in the south central part of the coast).

Professor Alam expressed his appreciation for the analysis and stated that it will allow more confidence about its application. DECCMA has furthered the evolving relationship with the Planning Commission. Professor Alam expressed his interest in DECCMA’s integrated assessment model to assess the impacts of cyclones on the coast, sediment management and water-logging.

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Mainstreaming climate change into district plans and budgets in Ghana

by Prosper Adiku

DECCMA used a dissemination and validation workshop to also build capacity on mainstreaming climate change. The workshop was attended by district officials, traditional leaders and community representatives from nine districts in the Volta delta of Ghana.

Winfred Nelson of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) and the DECCMA governance team presented on how to factor climate change into issues into planning and budgeting processes during the preparation of the short-term (2-year) Medium Term Development Plans at the district and municipal assembly levels.

Ghana meeting (photo: Klaus Wohlmann)

The ethos of the workshop was participatory, with the community participants and district officers sharing their perception of climate change impacts, before discussion turned to potential personal and collective responses at adaptation and mitigation.

With regards to mainstreaming, officials indicated that although climate change issues are not treated separately in planning and budgeting processes, the challenge arises with the integration process due to the low levels of awareness of climate change and perceived.  Mr Nelson highlighted the opportunities to secure extra-budgetary adaptation funding if climate change is effectively mainstreamed.

DECCMA Special Session on Science-Policy Dialogue at the 4th Gobeshona Conference

by Mashrekur Rahman

The venue for this year’s Gobeshona Annual Conference for Research on Climate Change in Bangladesh was the Independent University of Bangladesh (IUB). The fourth day of the conference was centered on science-policy dialogues. A special session on the fourth day at the conference was hosted by DECCMA (DEltas, vulnerability & Climate Change: Migration & Adaptation) Project, IWFM (Institute of Water and Flood Management), BUET (Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology).

Professor Dr. Munsur Rahman presented his keynote presentation titled “Integrated Assessment in Deltas”, focusing on the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) Deltas and DECCMA projects – two major international collaborative research projects which have attempted to link science and policy by providing policy makers with the scientific data, tools and expertise. Dr. Munsur briefly laid out the various aims, components and outputs of the two projects and discussed how the projects have been instrumental in the formulation of the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 (BDP 2100).

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Thereafter, a panel discussion was held; the panelists were Mr. Saiful Alam – ex- Technical Director of WARPO, Malik Fida A Khan – Deputy Executive Director, Operation of CEGIS (Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services), Dr.

Md. Taibur Rahman – Project Manager, UNDP, Dr. Sultan Ahmed – Additional Secretary, Department of Environment (DoE). The panel session was chaired by Professor Dr. Shamsul Alam–Member (Senior Secretary), General Economics Division (GED), Bangladesh Planning Commission, Government of Bangladesh.

Mr. Saiful Alam discussed Water Resources Planning Organization (WARPO)’s past involvement and contributions in the two before mentioned projects and the technical know-how provided for BDP 2100. He also briefly discussed the modelling aspects of WARPO and the two projects.  Mr. Malik Fida A Khan appreciated the value of the projects in integrating science and policy in Bangladesh and then emphasized on the importance of mainstreaming of tools such as the Delta Dynamic Integrated Emulator Model to ensure maximum science-policy linkage. Professor Shamsul Alam particularly pointed out glaring data gaps on climate change issues in Bangladesh and mentioned that the ESPA Deltas and the DECCMA projects have contributed a lot in somewhat abridging those gaps. Dr. Taibur discussed about the nexus between the scientific community and policy makers. He accentuated the importance of not adopting a consultant based approach for long term delta planning and encouraged the policy makers, politicians and leaders to be more accepting of a science-backed approach in planning, ensuring sustainable development. Dr. Sultan highlighted on how coastal vulnerabilities of Bangladesh have been exacerbated by degrading ecosystem services. He then discussed several approaches to bridging gaps between the scientific community and policy makers.

After speeches from the panelists, the floor was opened to the audience for a lively discussion session. At the end of discussions, Professor Dr. Munsur thanked everyone and subsequently Professor Shamsul Alam drew an official end to the session.

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“Climate change is triggering a migrant crisis in Vietnam” now published on The Conversation

by Alex Chapman, University of Southampton

DECCMA and ESPA Deltas researcher Dr Alex Chapman’s piece “Climate change is triggering a migrant crisis in Vietnam” has just been published on The Conversation UK. The article outlines how net out-migration of one million people from the delta – over double the national average – relates to a reduction in agricultural productivity and the effects of repeated exposure to cyclones that cause erosion of land and infrastructure.

Courtesy of The Conversation

Crucially, the article highlights that the creation of embankments, intended by the government to support in situ adaptation, actually often have the opposite effect. This is because in protecting the land, the embankments prevent “normal” flooding that replenishes soil nutrients and supports fishery-based livelihoods. Dr Chapman concludes by highlighting the importance of ensuring economic growth and adaptation supports all groups of the population to reduce a potential migrant crisis.


What does a 1.5⁰C increase in global temperature mean for deltas?

by Robert Nicholls

Deltas are a climate change hotspot, where the effects of climate change coincide with large numbers of people. Sea level rise is a major threat to deltas, bringing risks of flooding and erosion. As the world tries to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5⁰C, the DEltas, vulnerability and Climate Change: Migration and Adaptation (DECCMA) project has been looking at how deltas will be affected by increases in temperature of 1.5⁰C, 2⁰C or 3⁰C.

Volta delta mangroves (photo by Klaus Wohlmann)

Following the historic Paris Agreement, 1.5 ⁰C has become a hot topic.  The Paris Agreement commits developed and developing countries to global temperature increase to 2⁰C, with the aspiration to limit to 1.5⁰C.  These numbers are widely believed to be critical thresholds beyond which significant changes in the natural environment would be experienced (known as planetary boundaries).

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The issue of 1.5⁰C has recently been high on the political agenda again, as the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC met in Bonn to discuss a framework for reporting climate action to monitor the commitments made under the agreement.  Knowing the implications of a 1.5⁰C increase informs the “ambition mechanism”, whereby stocktakes of progress are due to be taken every 5 years, with a view to then revising and updating mitigation and adaptation commitments.  Improvements in science play a key input to ensuring that these commitments remain ambitious and on target to limit the damaging effects of climate change.

Deltas are home to 500 million people worldwide, as well as being natural environments that generate livelihoods, income and essential ecosystem services.  DECCMA has been investigating the effects of climate change in four study sites across three deltas across Africa and Asia: the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) megadelta in Bangladesh and the Indian Bengal component in India; and the smaller deltas of Mahanadi in India and Volta in Ghana.

Given the interest in 1.5⁰C, we have used our customised integrated assessment model –the Delta Dynamic Integrated Emulator Model – to look at the likely changes in flooding (in terms of depth of flood and area affected) and the impacts on population in the GBM in Bangladesh under three different scales of temperature increase: 1.5°C, 2.0°C and 3.0°C.

If we continue with relatively high rates of greenhouse gas emissions, models show that a 1.5°C increase could occur from 2011 to 2033.  Rates of temperature increase have already been significant and rapid.  Observed changes in temperature over the 20th century showed an increase in 0.7⁰C.  In comparison, in the readjustment period since the last ice age global temperatures have only increased by between 4-7c over 5000 years.

Sea level rise of 5-14cm is associated with an increase in global temperature of 1.5⁰C.  This may not seem a lot, and it is particularly difficult to find a reference period because sea levels have varied significantly over the last 20,000 years, reflecting glacial periods and the readjustment of land masses.  But, as an indication, sea levels rose by less than 2mm over the 20th century, so the projected increase is over 20 times more than that.

Until 2040 the differences that are likely from a 1.5⁰C increase and a 2⁰C increase are indistinguishable largely due to the year on year variability that is already characteristic of deltas.

If the temperature increase reaches 3⁰C, some of consequences more than double.  The area flooded under 3⁰C is more than 2.5 times that under 1.5⁰C of such sea level rise, for example.  Those at greatest risk are in the central regions and northeast, where there are fewer polders to protect the land.

The good news is that there is still time to implement adaptation – if we act now.  Our team has investigated adaptation and found 93 documented examples in our study deltas spanning agriculture, water management and disaster risk reduction.  We are now in the process of developing an integrated assessment model that will give us insights into adaptation needs and options under various future scenarios.

For more information, see:

Brown Sally, Nicholls Robert J, Lázár Attila, Hazra Sugata, Appeaning Addo Kwasi, Hornby Duncan D, Hill Chris, Haque Anisul, Caesar John and Tompkins Emma, What are the implications of sea-level rise for a 1.5°C, 2°C and 3°C rise in global mean temperatures in vulnerable deltas? Submitted to Regional Environmental Change.

(This blog is also published in the December edition of the CARIAA newsletter)

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DECCMA team participates in FAO Regional Meeting in Ghana

by Prosper Adiku

DECCMA was invited to make a presentation at the Food and Agriculture Organisation Regional Meeting held in Akosombo, Ghana from November 20-24, 2017; and hosted a field visit to the Volta delta.

FAO’s is committed to promoting rural agricultural development. Migration currently has a negative impact on agriculture by taking away economically-active adults, and so the intention is to make agriculture attractive.

Dr Mumuni Abu presents migration findings from the Volta delta

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Lead of the migration work in Ghana, Dr Mumuni Abu, was invited to share DECCMA’s findings on climate change and migration in the Volta delta, as well as to discuss how to leverage the opportunities presented by FAO in collaborating for further studies. He shared information on who migrants in the delta are, reasons for migrating, where the migrants go to, the duration of migration and the general perception of people about migration.

As part of the meeting programme, the DECCMA team hosted a visit to the Keta Municipality to learn about the interactions between climate change, migration and agriculture in the delta. The team interacted with officials of the District Assembly through presentations and discussions on climate change and agriculture-related issues in the Municipality and how these are impacting on the lives of the people. Officials from the planning department, Community development workers and the Information Services Department of the Assembly as well as DECCMA representatives were present during the interactions.

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