Adaptation and Climate Change

Speakers: Madeleen Helmer (Red Cross Climate Center) & Jan Verhagen (Plant Research International)

Red Cross

Madeleen Helmer works for Red Cross, Climate Center. She mentions that the amount of earthquakes and volcano eruptions has been constant over the last years, while disasters caused by extreme weather have increased significantly. Due to its experience, the Red Cross is good at helping victims of disasters, but not in preventing the consequences of disasters for people. People lose their house more often due to heavy weather.

So far, climate change policy of governments has only paid attention to mitigation aspects and not to adaptation aspects of climate change. However, Jan Verhagen mentions that due to mitigation, climate change has become a political issue and that this step forward would never have been achieved by adaptation only.

Plant Research International
Jan Verhagen tells about a large project of Plant Research International in China, India, South Africa, Bangladesh and Brasilia. In these countries, early warning systems are being used by local farmers at the start of each sowing season. In case of heavy rainfall, the farmers will be alarmed by each other. In this way, sowing can be postponed till raining is over. Then crops will not be distroyed at the very beginning while plants are most vulnerable.

Another aspect of adaptation to climate change is to select the right types of plants for a specific region. Some plants have larger and stronger roots and therefore a higher chance of surviving heavy rainfall. Therefore, plants from a specific country can be used in other countries where this plant does not grow naturally. The plants are exchanged between the five countries mentioned earlier. In this way, local people wil still have access to food in case of extreme weather.

Click here to read a report on this meeting (in Dutch).