Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Reinventing Climate Change Adaptation for Bangladesh and the World Highly Ranked

Lead Organization

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

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Project Summary

Global climate change is here and accelerating. Within this century, portions of South Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Horn of Africa will likely experience conditions incompatible with human life.The people of Bangladesh are witnessing this firsthand, through extreme heat waves, rising seas, pervasive flooding, increased salinity in their water supply, and more frequent and intense tropical cyclones. Though reactive adaptation has helped, the coming crisis requires a new, proactive approach to climate resilience.MIT and BRAC will reinvent climate adaptation by creating the Climate Resilience Early Warning System Network (CREWSNET). Beginning in western Bangladesh, CREWSNET leverages a globally proven intervention model and integrates next-generation climate forecasting, predictive analytics, resilience technologies, and financial instruments. This global public good will empower people to plan for – not simply react to – catastrophic change, and create a new, transformative model for climate change adaptation that can scale to the world.

Problem Statement

Bangladesh is a nexus of multiple climate hazards, with rising seas, salinity intrusion, and intensified tropical cyclones in the south, droughts in the north, and river flooding, riverbank erosion, heat waves, and erratic rainfall throughout. While Bangladesh may be able to adapt to some of these challenges with adequate preparation, current climate forecasting predicts that within this century substantial portions of Bangladesh will experience combined heat and humidity conditions that are incompatible with human life and natural ecosystems. The people of Bangladesh do not know if the most recent extreme weather event portends a more permanent change, and face impossible decisions about whether to stay or move. Similarly, governments and civil society organizations face information-starved decisions on how to best help residents adapt to climate change in place, while also working to develop climate resilient communities across Bangladesh. Two key issues drive these challenges: 1) Current climate models lack the resolution required to guide community-level decision-making, and 2) Many efforts to combat climate impacts are reactive and cannot anticipate and address future change.The most effective approach to reduce this suffering is: 1) Mobilize a proactive, highly-localized forecast-based strategy that empowers local decisions about climate adaptation, and 2) Link these forecasts to innovative resilience technologies and an integrated model for economic development.This crisis is acute in Bangladesh, and is accelerating in other parts of the world, particularly the Horn of Africa and Arabian Peninsula. There is an urgent need for a response strategy that is transferable and extendable.

Solution Overview

Our approach enables the people of Bangladesh to take control of their own destiny through climate data, forecasts, and access to customized services, technologies, and financing. BRAC and MIT will implement, refine, and expand a climate and impact forecasting system with effects predicted at the 10km scale. BRAC, in collaboration with relevant government agencies, will share these forecasts at household, community, and regional levels to support ten million people and six communities within Rangpur (northwest) and Khulna (southwest) Bangladesh. Forecasting at this resolution will create a fundamental change in climate resiliency, and empower individuals, families, and local governments to make plans tailored to their own circumstances.BRAC and MIT will support their choices by offering community-based services and technologies, and will leverage BRAC’s existing programs in livelihoods and employment opportunities: climate-smart agriculture and irrigation; water, sanitation, and hygiene; and disaster preparedness. Households, small businesses, and communities will be encouraged to utilize forecast-based financing, micro-insurance, and other financial services available from BRAC, the donor community, and the private sector. In parallel, these highly-localized forecasts will assist relocation decisions and strengthen efforts to prepare communities across Bangladesh to receive those who choose to move. BRAC’s Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) teams, with support from the MIT Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) on specific impact evaluations, will monitor and evaluate the impact of key components of this integrated approach. Community involvement and feedback will be incorporated at every stage.This five-year project will serve as a model for similarly threatened regions around the world.

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