Press release

Climate Change is Here - Now What?

December 3, 2005

Parallel event attendees hear how developing countries are addressing the increasing impacts of climate change

Climate change is here, and we are feeling its impacts all over the world, from melting polar ice caps to increasing desertification, and we must adapt to these new realities, attendees at the COP-11 Adaptation Day parallel event heard today from panels of national and international experts.

Hosted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the Adaptation Day parallel event at Montreal 2005 Climate Change Conference (COP-11) highlighted the science behind adaptation techniques and how communities around the world, particularly in developing countries, are adapting and coping with changes in their climate.

Ironically, the people most immediately and significantly affected by climate change – namely those in developing countries- are the lowest emitters of greenhouse gases.

"Adaptation has remained the poor cousin of mitigation, which is more often the focus of government policies," said John Drexhage, Director of Climate Change and Energy for IISD. "Negotiating targets is a more clear cut path than the many actions that are required to address adaptation, which is largely about the ways in which we can protect human settlements and ecosystems from the impacts of climate change."

If necessity is the mother of invention then the delegates and attendees heard the mother-lode of creativity as speakers from Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Kenya and Samoa gave example after example of how local communities are adapting to increasing numbers of droughts, floods and extreme weather events.

"A local NGO in Kenya has developed what is called "sand dams" which store water in sand behind dams which prevents evaporation and the water can then be used during droughts and the dry season through wells," explains Jeroen Aerts of the Institute for Environmental Studies at Freie University in Berlin.

"The dams are inexpensive to build, and have drastically reduced the distance needed to walk for water, which in turn has increased the productivity of family members to participate in income earning activities," he added.

"Parallel events such as Development and Adaptation Days provide a really important opportunity for developing country participants to share their information and knowledge and learn from each other in how they are coping and responding to changes in climate," said Dr. Saleemul Huq, Director of IIED's Climate Change program.

About IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development contributes to sustainable development by advancing policy recommendations on international trade and investment, economic policy, climate change, measurement and assessment, and natural resources management. Through the Internet, we report on international negotiations and share knowledge gained through collaborative projects with global partners, resulting in more rigorous research, capacity building in developing countries and better dialogue between North and South.

IISD's vision is better living for all-sustainably; its mission is to champion innovation, enabling societies to live sustainably. IISD is registered as a charitable organization in Canada and has 501(c)(3) status in the United States. IISD receives core operating support from the Government of Canada, provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Environment Canada; and from the Province of Manitoba. The institute receives project funding from numerous governments inside and outside Canada, United Nations agencies, foundations and the private sector

About IIED

The International Institute for Environment and Development ( is an international policy research institute, working for more sustainable and equitable global development. IIED draws on a well-established reputation for independence and honesty, providing cutting-edge ideas to push policy forward. We work through a wide range of long-standing relationships with partners in the developing world. Our partnerships generate close working links to many key actors, from smallholder farmers and big city slum-dwellers to national governments and regional NGOs, global institutions and international processes.

Our principal fields of activity cover natural resources, human settlements, global governance, sustainable markets and climate change. In the field of climate change, IIED has focused particularly on issues of vulnerability and adaptation, working closely with the group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), to build their capacity and strengthen their negotiation skills. We advise governments and donor agencies on mainstreaming climate into development policy. IIED seeks to promote carbon markets which provide benefits both for the environment and for social ends.

About the COP

Montréal 2005: United Nations Climate Change Conference is where delegations from 189 countries have gathered to launch discussions towards a more effective and inclusive global approach to climate change through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Delegates at Montréal 2005 will also discuss the next steps in the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, which came into effect in February of this year.

Montréal 2005 also features a series of parallel events supported by the Government of Canada. Hosted by a wide range of partners, these events and activities are designed to raise awareness of the causes and impacts of climate change, and to showcase Canadian innovation, technology and commitment to action on climate change.

For More Information on Development and Adaptation

Other organisations working with Climate Change

About IISD

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an award-winning independent think tank working to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resource management, and fair economies. Our work inspires better decisions and sparks meaningful action to help people and the planet thrive. We shine a light on what can be achieved when governments, businesses, non-profits, and communities come together. IISD’s staff of more than 250 experts come from across the globe and from many disciplines. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa, and Toronto, our work affects lives in nearly 100 countries.