Friday, December 4, 2015

COP21: Quacky & Climate

When I was a child, we briefly had a pet duck named Quacky.  Quacky wasn't really meant for an urban back yard.  I remember the outing to Reseda Park near Los Angeles to free Quacky to swim among her fellow ducks.

Ducks were in abundance at COP21 today, but these weren't real. 300 paper maché ducks, hand painted by children, ages 8 to 10, were given to delegates inside the COP21 venue.  They were intended to remind delegates not to "duck" the issue of adaptation.  Delegates from the U.S., Costa Rica, Germany, France and others accepted them.

When I saw the ducks, I had to stop and find out what was going on.  The ducks were gathered by CARE France.  CARE works on helping impoverished people in areas that are now seeing the impacts of climate change such as Bangladesh.

“In Bangladesh, floods are becoming more frequent; they destroy houses and threaten communities’ income," said Philippe Lévêque, CEO of CARE France.  "In order to adapt, chicken livestock may be replaced by ducks. Equally nutritious, ducks are able to swim and therefore to survive floods. This initiative has given families a better ability to face climate hazards,” 

As droughts, floods and rainfall variability increase, adaptation is a matter of survival for many communities impacted by climate change.

“States seem to be reaching a compromise on a global goal for adaptation" said Fanny Petitbon, Advocacy Officer for CARE France.  "Acknowledging the need for adaptation would be a big step forward in the climate negotiations – it would prove there is a true will to improve populations’ resilience. However, funding is a tricky question which, so far, remains unanswered,”

CARE describes adaptation as "the poor cousin of climate funding," with only 16% of climate funding is dedicated to adaptation."

Adaptation is an increasingly important issue to impacted countries.  While at COP21, I've had conversations with folks from the Philippines, Cambodia, India and elsewhere, all of whom are concerned about how to address impacts today.  There have been a lot of numbers thrown around about acres affected, the number of intense storms, the number of homes destroyed, or the dollar value of losses.  But as Raymund Liboro of the Science and Technology Information Institute of the Philippines reminded me, "Behind numbers are actual people affected."

I'll keep the duck CARE gave to me as my reminder to think about adaptation.  I'll also think about the written by the child who made it, "life is precious - treasure it."  And I'll name my little duck "quacky."

Duck given to me by CARE:  "Life is precious, treasure it"

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