What are the solutions that help to build resilience for the people and places on the frontlines of climate change?
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Climate change will impact communities in numerous ways, including causing sea levels to rise, extreme weather events to increase, and oceans to warm. These changes will create pressures through food and water insecurity, climate migration, increased risks of conflicts and disease, and negative impacts on livelihoods and homes. To prevent the most disastrous effects of climate change, we must mitigate climate change and stop greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. However, for the impacts that are already happening and that are bound to come, it is important for communities to become more resilient to climate change. Climate resilience refers to the speed at which communities can recover from the impacts of climate change. To help this, our infrastructure and supporting systems, such as our agricultural and water systems, need to be reconsidered in terms of resilience. At the same time as adapting locally, we must think globally as climate change is a global crisis with wide implications. Thinking globally means that climate justice, ecological equity, and human rights for all must be inherent in our thinking and approach to resilience.
At the heart of many resilient cultures and groups is a strong sense of community. The rise of neoliberalism promoted competition and individualism, which caused the sense of community in many Western countries to decline. For resilience to be enhanced, a sense of community must be re-established through nurturing social networks and support systems. Nevertheless, communities are complex things; establishing a sense of community does not create a utopia. Living in a community means learning how to navigate conflicts and live with differences whilst working together for the collective good. There are many opportunities to engage with your local community or to create a more global community online, such as through attending or organising events and meetings.
Intersectional environmentalism recognises how social and political identities can create different experiences of and vulnerabilities to climate change. These vulnerabilities may also affect the capacity of communities to recover from climate change and climate disasters. Time and again, after natural disasters vulnerable groups lose the most and suffer from an unequal recovery process. Through highlighting the injustice of this and working to ensure the most vulnerable are made resilient to climate change, we can work towards achieving a just transition.
Alongside adapting our infrastructure and supporting systems, we must change our social structures. The current systems are extractive and designed to profit from the exploitation of labour and the destruction of nature. To ensure we are not creating resilience only for communities of priviledge who can afford it, we must rethink our social systems that are driven by profit over people. Resilience must not simply mean sustaining and restoring the same structures of inequality and violence that have created the climate crisis. Resilience for vulnerable communities requires transforming the social and systemic structures to centre people and justice.
Learn how communities are being impacted by climate change and how they are striving to become resilient
Watch this TED talk by Thomas Crowther on how nature can help us become more resilient through nature-based solutions