New report on Vietnam shows impressive results when NGOs effectively mobilise local people to take action on climate change and scale up their efforts to cover hundreds of villages.
The report Community-Based Climate Change Initiatives in Vietnam, released by the Climate Change Working Group(CCWG) in Vietnam just before COP21 climate talks in Paris, presents best practices of both international and local NGOs on addressing climate change in Vietnam, as well as relevant lessons learned for policy-makers and other civil society actors.
From passive listener to active trainer
One particularly successful approach was to use local people as trainers on climate change issues. Ms. Chung, a 30-year old woman from the coastal district Hoang Hoa, which is prone to typhoons and other climate shocks, used to be shy and reluctant to join activities in her village. But after becoming a community trainer, she now speaks with great confidence in front of her community.
“The most important thing is to make the lessons relevant. I use local dialects and give examples from the local context,” Ms. Chung explains. She first participated in training on disaster risk reduction conducted by World Vision in 2012: “I recognized the issues were relevant to my daily life, and I started to observe the weather phenomena happening at home”, Ms. Chung recalls. “Before then I had not heard of climate change.” Ms. Chung is one of the 31 women trained by World Vision over several years. They have now themselves trained more than 1,000 people on disaster preparedness and risk assessment.
Selecting best practices
Training local people to become trainers themselves is one among 16 different initiatives presented in the report.
“The best practice cases have been selected carefully,” explains Ms. Minh Nguyen Anh, Coordinator of the NGO Climate Change Working Group. “The results are really impressive. Involving local communities in finding solutions to climate change is really effective, because this help people address the challenges they face themselves”.
The 16 initiatives presented in the report were selected based on key questions, such as: Were vulnerabilities reduced; Were exposure to climate hazards reduced ; Were greenhouse gas emissions reduced; Did the initiatives have other livelihood co-benefits for target groups?; Were local institutions and policy implementation strengthened?
The selected community initiatives cover both adaptation and mitigation, as well as agriculture, and urban and rural projects implemented by the local and international members of the CCWG. Examples include:
- Improving Resilience of Workers to Heat Stress in Danang (COHED – The Centre for Community Health & Development)
- Disability-inclusive community based disaster risk management (Malteser International)
- Strong house – safe people: community based construction regulations (Development Workshop France)
- Indigenous knowledge and climate change adaptation (CARE)
- Local Energy Planning – a key for mitigation to climate change (Green ID)
Recommendations for policy-makers
The results of the report can help guide climate change policies in Vietnam. The CCWG believes that Vietnam’s climate change policies are comprehensive, but that the implementation of policies and their inclusiveness could be improved, particularly at local level.
More specifically the CCWG has the following recommendations:
- Place the well-being of the poorest and most vulnerable people at the core of any climate action;
- Use participatory planning for building climate resilient communities;
- Consult communities and include them in all stages of planning and implementation of climate change action plans;
- Consult women at all stages of design and implementation of climate action;
- Integrate, resource and implement community based initiatives in the most vulnerable provinces;
- Access/allocate official development assistance (ODA) for financial and technological assistance to build resilience of the most vulnerable populations.
Lessons Learned for the civil society
The report also summarises the lessons and recommendations for the civil society, outlining how best to plan, implement and scale-up climate change initiatives in local communities.
Some key lessons learned:
- Local people are experts;
- Involve local and higher level authorities to create ownership;
- Use bottom-up participatory and integrated planning processes;
- Mobilise households – both women, men and children – based on direct benefits to livelihood and health;
- Demonstrate economic and other benefits of pilots projects;
- Use attractive communication materials, public media and social media;
- Local officials can be influential in communicating successes to higher level leaders;
- Dialogue with high-level national and provincial officials is important to ensure support at the local level.
Communities’ initiatives must be recognised
The report by the Climate Change Working Group provides evidence that community based approaches work, and demonstrates how the CCWG and its members provide relevant inputs for the Vietnamese government in climate change planning and implementation.
The report recommends that Vietnamese policy-makers: “must officially acknowledge the role of community based initiatives in planning and implementing climate change action plans, and that provinces integrate community based initiatives in their plans and provide budget resources for this.”
This recommendation is the guiding principle for the advocacy strategy of the CCWG in the years to come. It has been informed by the Joint Principles for Adaptation – developed by Southern Voices on Climate Change project, where the CCWG has played a key part.
The Climate Change Working Group was established in 2008, since when it has been a key member of the Southern Voices programme. The CCWG was hosted by CARE Vietnam until the end of 2015, before moving to Oxfam Vietnam. CARE remains the chair of the adaptation sub-group.