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Climate Change Adaptation Is A Priority

Here at the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, we ve been saying that a lot over the past couple of years. For smallholder farmers, women, fisher folk and other people especially vulnerable to climate change, support in adapting to the changes they re experiencing is more important than trying to slow those changes. After all, they produce few of the emissions that cause climate change.

At a climate change policy conference that Canadian Foodgrains Bank helped organize in Ottawa recently, speaker after speaker from the global south told us that adaptation is their main priority.

Adaptation is where the need actually is at the moment, said Maria Theresa Nera-Lauron, who co-ordinates the People s Movement on Climate Change in the Philippines.

For us, the priority in Africa is adaptation, said Mithika Mwenda, who heads up the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance.

Asstou Foun Samak, an agricultural scientist in Mali, told us that in some parts of Africa, lack of moisture is already making it difficult to produce food. In a few years, some parts of Africa may be no-go zones for agriculture. This is not a concern 10 or 20 years down the road. We re already facing this crisis, she said through interpreters.

Which is why it s troubling that last year s climate change financing package from Canada gave so very little towards adaptation. Canada gave a total of $400 million towards helping developing countries fight and adapt to climate change, but most of that money ended up going to private companies for large-scale mitigation projects, such as clean energy development.

Helping countries develop their economies in ways that are climate friendly is important, no doubt about it. But it doesn t help those who are already struggling to cope with increased droughts, floods, and changes in their seasons. Support for adaptation does.

For farmers, adaptation may mean planting new crops that do better under higher temperatures, building small irrigation schemes, or adopting new practices such as minimum tillage, composting, or mulching. It may mean building barriers to hold back sea waters or, alternatively, to keep soil on the fields when heavy rains pound down. All these resilience-increasing practices require support.

Last year, only 11 per cent of that $400 million went towards adaptation. Let s encourage the Canadian government to do better this year, and in years to come.

Carol Thiessen is a policy adviser at Canadian Foodgrains Bank. She recently helped organize a forum in Ottawa for discussing climate change issues in developing countries.

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& speaker after speaker from the global south told us that adaptation is their main priority.

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