1 February 2016

New Tool Helps Communities Better Understand Climate Change

Global climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity, but communicating complex climate science to different stakeholders is a challenging task for climate scientists. Nevertheless, Article 6 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) addresses the importance of climate change communication and engaging stakeholders in the issue. It highlights the responsibility of participating countries to develop and implement educational and public awareness programmes on climate change and its effects to ensure public access to information and to promote public participation.

Responding to the call of the UNFCCC to address this global challenge, the United States Department of State (USA) and the Government of India (India), through the Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Program 2015 to 2016, funded a project called “COREDAR”. This collaborative initiative was undertaken by research institutions in the two countries, Columbia University’s Centre for Earth Science and Information Network (CIESIN) Earth Institute in New York and Anna University’s Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation Research (CCC&AR) in Chennai.

COREDAR stands for “Communicating Risk of climate change and Engaging Stakeholders in Framing Community-based Adaptation Strategies”.  It is a climate change capacity building tool developed to address the risk of sea-level rise (SLR) on urban coastal cities. The main objective of this tool is to communicate complex climate science to different stakeholders, in particular local communities, and to build capacity at all levels of decision-making. It provides a platform to integrate both top-down and bottom-up approaches on decision-making for framing effective climate change adaptation strategies by integrating climate change science, society and policy.

COREDAR puts forth three important questions from the lens of SLR and community-based adaptation: what community engagement, if any, is currently taking place to address sea-level rise; what information do communities need and how does it need to be communicated in order to better prepare for sea-level rise and provide a greater sense of agency to stakeholders; and how can city and federal governments facilitate community engagement and action? 

COREDAR offers a checklist to gather holistic information on climate change in a systematic step-wise approach with information ranging from past sea-level rise trends, future projections,  predicted impacts and vulnerabilities, framing adaptation strategies and mainstreaming adaptation policies. Importantly, it gives a space for all stakeholders to be involved with and contribute to the climate change decision-making process.

This tool will be a great source of information for climate change adaptation scientists, researchers, academicians, policy-planners, decision-makers, NGOs, the general public and anyone who is interested in the risks of climate change and how to develop adaptation strategies that are grounded in community priorities. In addition, one of the main strengths of COREDAR is it is relevant to urban coastal cities across the world and for global audiences.

For more information visit https://agu.confex.com/agu/fm15/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/78074 and http://www.usief.org.in/scholar-profile/scholarprofiledetails.aspx?fellowid=10552.  You can also contact A. Saleem Khan, Fulbright Scholar, (skhan@ciesin.columbia.edu); Robert S.Chen, Director (bchen@ciesin.columbia.edu) and Alex de Sherbinin, Associate Director (adesherbinin@ciesin.columbia.edu) of the Centre for International Earth Science and Information Network (CIESIN), Earth Institute, Columbia University.