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Mobilizing Activists, Congress, and the Administration to Help Communities Build Resilience to Climate Change

As part of a powerful coalition of international development agencies, faith-based groups, and environmental agencies, Friends of the Earth helped organize a series of events on April 30 – May 1, 2009 to highlight the impacts of climate change and how communities can adapt to these changes.

The first event was a full day conference in Washington, DC called: “Ready or not? A conference on issues and solutions for adapting to climate change.” More than 200 people took part in a series of panel discussions that explored the scale and scope of the challenges and opportunities faced by communities around the world in adapting to the impacts caused by climate change. Working groups discussed the impacts on water availability, public health, disaster risk reduction strategies, agriculture, the unique needs of urban dwellers, ecosystems, and adaptation and the green economy. The goal of the workshop was to raise awareness and mobilize activists from many sectors of society to take action in addressing the impacts of climate change.

The following day we carried these messages to Congress. A panel of experts talked about the need and ways to finance climate change adaptation efforts in the U.S. and especially in the developing world. The session was highlighted by the testimony of Monzoe Gondwe, a farm leader and women right’s activist, who talked about the impact climate change is having on farmers and rural women in Malawi. Representatives from Levi Strauss and Equal Action powerfully demonstrated how falling crop yields for cotton and coffee caused by climate change in developing countries impact everyone along the supply chain and they talked about their companies’ efforts to help local suppliers build resilience to these changes.

In the afternoon, we organized a round-table discussion between the CEOs of leading development, faith-based, and environmental organizations with representatives from President Obama’s administration. Our panel made the plea for rapid action and outlined key recommendations on how to finance climate adaptation efforts around the world. Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder attended this session and engaged with representatives from the Treasury, the President’s Council on Environmental Quality and the U.S. State Department.