Géraud de Ville

The Open University, Department of Engineering and Innovation
London, UK

Ask them!

Civil society is the key to solving global environmental challenges

September 17, 2014

Five European Union FP7 financed research projects present strong evidence that local communities and civil society organisations are playing a significant role in helping support the delivery of international agreements such as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change.

Photo Géraud de Ville – Creative Commons

Using innovative methods such as participatory action research, visual communication and community decision support modelling these ground-breaking projects have identified, adapted and shared local community best practices across the whole of Latin America empowering communities to have a voice, strengthen local governance and maintain human well-being.

These communities are the most impacted and vulnerable to climate change, inappropriate development decisions and the resulting environmental and social issues, but these communities are the very ones that are most effective at protecting the environment, using resources efficiently and delivering on low-carbon economy objectives.

The IPCC Climate Change 2014 report acknowledges this stating “Indigenous, local, and traditional knowledge systems and practices, including indigenous people’s holistic view of community and environment, are a major resource for adapting to climate change, but these have not been used consistently in existing adaptation efforts. Integrating such forms of knowledge with existing practices increases the effectiveness of adaptation.”

However, policy consistency is required as whilst there are calls for support of communities and local action, other initiatives are undermining communities by supporting destructive development, removing land rights, restricting access to resources and furthering the loss of local natural capital.

Lakeram Haynes, an Indigenous community researcher from Guyana, expressed his wish for policy makers to consider “We should let local and international proved solutions blend to tackle emerging global challenges”.

Results from CiVi.net, COMET-LA, EcoAdapt, COMBIOSERVE and COBRA have demonstrated that solutions delivered at a local level result in sustainable actions that protect the environment and the wider ecosystem services and benefits they provide. By respecting the diversity of languages, lifestyle, world view and environmental context, policy actions can be adapted locally for effective delivery that not only benefits local communities but protects the environmental services we all rely on.



QUICK DOWNLOAD: Check out the English version of the COBRA Handbook for Practitioners.