Local adaptive resilient micro-eco-systems 

Can the largest ever gathering of UNFCC meeting in Paris give hope to the large majority of the world who are struggling to keep up with the climate induced weather chaos impacting their livelihoods?

Can Paris give hope to small folks around the world living off the land? Will Paris wake up to Commonsense?

Simple folks around world, marginalised, kept out of global negotiations that directly impact their lives have become vctims of development. They are now seeking simple solutions, commonsense wisdom that helped them once upon a time before new technologies invaded their lives… while some like cell phones have changed their world, most agro-technologies have become a burden for small farmers. The agri-business and their minions ofocurse will never buy this story.

Left out of decision making, pawns at the hands of ever -changing governments and changing policies small farmers are at the receiving ends of climate change as well as the climate change experts.  The farmers are simply striving to survive. All they are concerned is revival and recharge of their disappearing waterways, streams and springs. All they want to know is if they can have simple solutions for erosion control, soil revival – simple common sense low technologies that they can manage, maintain and operate. It seems in the onslaught of techno solutions, common sense wisdom have been washed away from local villages only to be replaced by energy guzzling technologies that cost money and require more money for repairs and service.

In a world that is increasingly becoming too smart for its own good, too polarised, and too enslaved to techno solutions, we are forgetting the role of  simple common sense. Climate sector is one such sector trying to become too scientific, too specialised and too smart for its own good. As the smart climate talkers gather in Paris end of this month, it is not a bad idea to take a few moments to humbly reflect on the errors we have made so far and how we have overlooked simple common sense in the process of positioning Climate Science in the global development agenda.

Hidden costs of not going LOCAL (Local Organic Climate Action and learning) in climate change work is creating havoc in the lives of many unseen, unheard excluded majority of communities dependent on their land and forests for a livelihood.

Working with smallholders, forest dwellers, focusing on climate change related local issues, I have begun to realise the crucial nexus between soil-water-forest-land and farming and the importance of working locally to create micro-climates that can dance with the changes in the climate.

Most of the climate change funds focus on big projects, are capital intensive and top-heavy. Simple commonsense shows that big climate funds have not really worked. Yet the tendency is to go more high tech and more top heavy even in the climate fund operations.

A fraction of that money is sufficient to enable, capacitate and empower local communities such as Khenkar, Mekuri,  Thankthang, Chemong, Benguil or Tsirangtoe to revive their disappearing spings, regenerate ground water, build good soil that can soak up and store water when monsoon arrives. An adaptive micro-eco-system ensures that resilient local communities might well be able to rise above the climate chaos – using common sense wisdom, simple practical solutions focusing on the unique diversity of what is locally available and possible.

I am writing this from Bhutan, working on a climate change project that has taken me the length and breadth of the country in the last  four weeks.

It is very clear this country with a large carbon credit and an enlightened vision to preserve her forests constitutionally is struggling despite being a nega carbon emitter. Bhutan’s forests abosrb 6.3 million tonnes of carbon annually.

As the rest of the world continue to pollute, Bhutan is at the receiving end of global warming. A country powered by glacier fed rivers Bhutan is preparing for many climate induced crisis scenarios. The country has invested in smart early warning systems monitoring the floods from glacier-melt with a warning system able to rescue communities in 8 hours lag time.

But there is something else that has been impacting thousands of ordinary farmers around Bhutan on a much regular basis than glacier melt lake outbursts of flood. Climate induced erratic monsoons, aggravated by steep terraced farming of rice and maize, resulting in soil erosion, drying groundwater sources have been negatively impacting the lives of almost all farmers across the country.

In remote places like Khenkar, Mongar province in the Eastern Bhutan or in Tsirang  farmers are experiencing one thing in common despite their diverse terrains-  A general unreliability of the monsoon rains for their immediate water use as well as their main source of livelihood – largely rain fed farming.

Over the last  four weeks close to 100 farmers spread over 12 villages between three provinces of Bhutan have been trained in LOCAL initiatives (Local Organic Climate Action and Learning) Simple low cost green technologies blending with the appropriate local traditional systems of knowledge and decentralised community driven management is increasingly becoming popular at local level for farmers who feel disconnected and alienated from the mainstream.

Will Paris wake up to lessons learnt, mistakes made and let commonsense wisdom prevail in the upcoming negotiations?

Nirmala Nair 

Nirmala Nair is the 

Founder of School of Practical Sustainability. Local Organic Climate Action and Learning (LOCAL) is one of the training programs of School of Practical Sustainability offers. Nirmala is a climate change consultant (NAPA II) for Tarayana, Thimpu Butan