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Child-Centred Climate Resilience

This report outlines the practical lessons learned by Plan International and Save the Children about child-centred community-based adaptation (CC-CBA) to climate change.
Blanaid Donnelly


This report outlines the practical lessons learned by Plan International and Save the Children about child-centred community-based adaptation (CC-CBA) to climate change. It provides a snapshot of our work across the Philippines and Vietnam and addresses five key themes: Participatory approaches: ensuring children’s voices are heard in community-based adaptation (CBA); building climate resilience; mainstreaming CBA into policy planning and development; children as agents of change; and the role of communication to mobilise action and replication. Through a series of case studies, the report details some of the specific examples of how project participants have engaged with CC-CBA activities and consolidates best-practice lessons and recommendations for practitioners and donors.

Participatory approaches: ensuring children’s voices are heard in CBA

Children are affected by both current and future climate change impacts, yet their voices are rarely heard or considered in climate change adaptation activities. CC-CBA arises from a child-rights approach. It seeks to ensure the concerns and priorities of children and youth are heard in decision-making around climate change adaptation. It is an approach that works with children and young people to facilitate their understanding of climate change, drawing on their voices and empowering them with the knowledge, skills and confidence to catalyse action at home, at school and in the community.

Key lesson: To break down barriers to children’s engagement, parents, teachers and community members should be systematically involved and encouraged to support children’s active participation in a range of child-centred and child-led activities. Dedicated capacity and confidence building activities for children will empower them to become active citizens in their schools and communities, and support them to demand governments take proactive steps to address the current and future challenges that climate change poses to all.

Building climate resilience Building climate resilience can take many forms. One primary component of resilience simply relates to the quality and timeliness of information and knowledge that children, communities and government institutions have access to. However, this acquisition of knowledge is not sufficient on its own. Communities must also be given skills through which they can apply this knowledge. In addition, institutional frameworks must be supported so that climate resilience building activities can be sustained. Mechanisms, such as insurance, social funds and the diversification of livelihood options, are just some of the activities that were implemented across the Philippines and Vietnam. Communities were provided with technical trainings (provision of knowledge) and support (ongoing technical support from NGOs and government institutions) to carry out locally relevant climate change adaptation activities.

Key lesson: Collaborating with local technical departments to support the CBA livelihood models enhances both cost efficiency and sustainability of these models. The project worked closely with the district-level Agriculture Extension Offices and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Vietnam to provide technical training courses for farmers. This increased the role and responsibility of local agencies and departments to provide better services for farmers. Project staff and local technical officials exchanged knowledge and experiences on CBA models, benefitting both the project beneficiaries (direct and indirect) but also government agencies. Furthermore, the project benefitted from inputs by relevant technical agencies, such as the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration and the Climate Change Commission, to better inform and enhance project outcomes.

Mainstreaming CBA into policy planning and development The primary tool used in this project was Community Vulnerability and Capacity Assessments (CVCAs). Through the process of CVCAs, communities, government officials, children, teachers and project staff worked together to analyse local hazards and understand communities’ vulnerabilities and adaptive capacities to manage the uncertainties of climate change. Based on the outcomes of the CVCAs, the projects then provided opportunities for children, schools, community-members and local government units to apply for small grants to help them implement some of the prioritised climate change adaptation actions. This enabled children to design, implement, apply for funding and monitor their own interventions. The success of these actions has been used to advocate for local government units in the Philippines and Vietnam to integrate CC-CBA into their respective Annual Investment Plans and Socio-Economic Development Plans. There are already multiple examples of this taking place across the project provinces.

Key lesson: The CVCA framework provides a strong entry point for children’s participation in climate change adaptation project design, implementation and monitoring across all CBA projects. If CVCA analysis and planning is conducted with the support and participation of a wider range of community and government stakeholders, there is every chance that successful initiatives can and will be incorporated into future local development planning.

Children as agents of change Throughout our projects, we’ve seen children design, implement and monitor adaptation actions appropriate for their age and context. These range from planting vegetable gardens at school – where the profits from selling harvests are channelled back to the children’s climate clubs to fund further actions – to mangrove or tree planting to protect waterfront structures from floods and storms. Children are working with adults and their municipal governments on improved waste disposal systems, and they are conducting education and community outreach. Many of the climate related actions children have participated in are also building their skills more generally. For example, the Bulilit Brodkasters (child broadcasters) in the Philippines have not only increased the knowledge and understanding of climate change concepts within their audience but also built skills in radio presentation and interviewing.

Key lesson: To sustain the benefits of activities beyond the life of the project and into the future, CBA projects should not limit engagement to adults and government officials but holistically engage children and young people throughout the entire project cycle. Harnessing the energies and enthusiasms of children for positive change can have an impact on decision-makers at all levels of communities and governments.

The role of communication to mobilise action and replication Communication plays an important role in CBA, not only as a means to share information and engage and mobilise communities in behaviour change, but as a powerful tool in advocating for policy change. Effective communication among children, communities or local government officials can increase the understanding and ability of these stakeholders to plan for current and future climate change impacts. Communicating CBA provides an opportunity to shift the focus from the projected impacts of climate change to practical action that can be taken now. Communicating to decision-makers from the bottom-up or out to communities can take many forms. On one hand, we have children as the holders of knowledge who are sharing climate change information with other children in their communities – their peers. While on the other hand, children are driving information flows upwards towards local and national government bodies. In both cases building the adaptive capacity of boys, girls, youth, parents or local government officials can lead to a range of effective communications that are carried out at multiple scales and across multiple forums.

Key lesson: Providing avenues for children and national government bodies to engage and discuss practical solutions to climate change adaptation may seem time consuming and challenging but in practice can play a fundamental role to the success of CBA project outcomes. Engaging with relevant government counterparts at all levels, and explicitly including key moments and mechanisms for this engagement in project design and implementation, will maximise opportunities for learning and replicating project successes, and should always be integrated across the project design.

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