Thomas Loster, Chairman of Munich Re Foundation, explains the important role of livelihoods for sustainable adaptation processes.

The Gibika project at the climate summit in Lima

The key word "livelihood" had still not come up in the negotiating text three days before the end of the climate summit. And that although the potential for impoverished people to improve their way of life often depends on enhancing the resources they can draw from to secure their livelihood.

Our Gibika project – Gibika is the Bangla word for livelihood – is all about improving the basis of existence (livelihood) of people in endangered communities in Bangladesh. It was also a topic at the latest COP 20 climate summit in Lima, Peru. In discussions in the Climate Change Kiosk, Thomas Loster, chairman of the Munich Re Foundation, emphasised that debates about climate change are often centred around damage to property, structures and ecosystems, while generally not enough attention is paid to social systems and social security. Ensuring a reliable basis for living is, however, prerequisite to the development perspectives of individuals, families and indeed entire societies. "When there is a shock such as a weather-related natural catastrophe, people often suddenly find themselves in the poverty trap," says Loster. "Education, too, the foundation for future development, is heavily dependent on economic factors".

In the negotiating text of the climate summit, which culminated in the final Lima global warming agreement, the word "livelihood" hadn't been mentioned three days before the end of the talks". The Gibika project, which the Munich Re Foundation is implementing together with the ICCCAD institute in Bangladesh and the UN University (UNU-EHS) in Bonn, is about improving people's options for action in improving their resiliency. By the end of 2014, field trials in two communities in Bangladesh, Dalbanga South and Mazer Char will have investigated how cyclones cause flood and river erosion damage – and how the people's risks can be minimised. The results of the studies will be passed on to authorities and decision-makers. To date what can be said is that installing or improving early-warning systems would seem to make sense. Fortunately, the supporting of flood warning systems is contained in the COP20 negotiating text (paragraph 30.1). So Gibika can also play a key role in important negotiations such as those in the UNFCCC process.

P.S.: By now we know that the term “livelihood” is not mentioned in the “Lima call for climate action” which is the final agreement of the 2015 world’s climate summit in Peru. There is still a lot to be done.

TL, CB, 15 December 2014

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