11 Nov 2011

BirdLife’s approach to working locally

By Nick Askew

BirdLife Policy Brief for UNFCCC  COP17, Durban full briefing here Climate change – the need for a local response Whilst international conventions and national policies and strategies are vital to address the inter-connected social and environmental impacts of, and responses to, climate change, there also needs to be a local response. This should empower local people, recognise their rights and responsibilities and mobilise civil society at the local level, in support of sustainable livelihoods and the conservation of biodiversity and the services it provides, in a changing climate. Benefits of working locally:

  • Local knowledge. Local people often have an intimate knowledge of the local environment that can be critical in developing strategies for maintaining environmental health, sustainably using biodiversity and contributing to climate change adaptation and mitigation.
  • Motivation. Many local people are directly dependent on the resources or the services an area provides, including recreational, cultural and well-being benefits. They have most to lose if biodiversity is lost or an area is degraded: given rights, resources and capacity they are therefore motivated to work to ensure a sustainable supply of benefits.
  • Sustainability. Ecosystem-based approaches to mitigation and adaptation are long-term endeavours. Supporting the work of local organisations enhances the prospects that these activities will be sustainable and delivered by motivated and capacitated individuals.
  • Efficiency. Sustainable mitigation and adaptation measures involve complex relations between different stakeholders, resource users and decision makers. Local individuals and institutions understand how to work with this complexity.
  • Legitimacy and avoiding conflict. Decisions and actions led by organisations rooted in the community give social legitimacy to an intervention and may help to avoid conflict.
  • Empowerment. Enabling local organisations to take the lead in addressing the linked challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss recognises and respects people’s rights (to resources, participation and to have a voice) and can be very empowering.

Taken together these factors help improve the effectiveness of climate change responses in the long term.