‘Changes in climate have significant implications for present lives, for future generations and for ecosystems on which humanity depends’. (Royal Society, http:www.royalsociety.org., 2010).
As the world’s climate becomes more unpredictable, the social, economic and environmental conditions of the rural poor will be further stressed, likely leaving communities at risk. Smallholder farmers, dependent upon their natural resources for food, health and prosperity, are most vulnerable to climate changes due to their economic conditions, limited outside support networks and weak adaptive capacity. Climate change is expected to produce local weather extremes that range from diminished rainfall and prolonged droughts to extreme storms causing widespread flooding. This variability will impact agriculture systems at the household and community level exacerbating vulnerabilities and risks for many living on the margins. As climate changes intensify, rural communities will likely experience ecosystem scarcities leading to far reaching consequences for the world’s most vulnerable societies (Boyd et all). As access to food, water and natural resources becomes more difficult, development practitioners will have to find new and effective ways to mainstream climate-centered methodologies into traditional development pathways.
Understanding the nexus between climate change and development, will be one of the greatest challenges in 21st century requiring integrated approaches that reduce greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation) while simultaneously preparing for anticipated climate change impacts (adaptation). Herein lies one of the great paradoxes – how do you promote pro-poor development growth without using traditional carbon intensive resources. Helping rural communities develop the capacity and resilience to sustainably adapt their agricultural and resource management practices will require integrated and comprehensive frameworks that can effectively deliver knowledge and resources to the rural poor. The most sustainable adaptation methodologies and interventions will find ways to effectively bridge the knowledge and information gaps between climate science and community implementation. Climate change does complicate traditional rural development pathways and that is why CRD is keenly focused on practical, low-cost community projects that improve agriculture productivity, economic diversity and environmental sustainability in socially appropriate and gender-neutral manners. Sustainable development pathways will need to reconcile the science in assisting communities to develop the adaptive capacity and resilience to understand, evolve and ideally prosper as their climate changes.