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The Environment and Forestry Ministry has said it is stepping up efforts to build climate resilience in villages after learning that only 290 of around 70,000 villages have taken part in its climate resilience program, which started in 2011.

The ministry recently issued a ministerial regulation to push villages and regional administrations to adapt to climate change.

“With this ministerial regulation, we are pushing not only regions, but also the private sector, NGOs and even individuals to contribute,” the ministry’s climate change director general, Nur Masripatin, said.

The regulation contains guidelines on how to adapt to climate change. The ministry is also mulling over incorporating a stick-and-carrot approach to encourage villages to build better resilience.

Besides the issuance of the regulation, the ministry also plans to increase the number of villages participating in the climate resilience program, known as Climate Kampung Program (Proklim).

In the program, the ministry assesses neighborhood units and villages throughout the country in their efforts to adapt to climate change as well as to lower their carbon emissions.

“I want all [villages to participate]. I have asked the director general [on climate change] to talk to USAID [United States Agency for International Development] because the US’ pledge on climate change and environment is big, almost US$1 billion from 2011 to 2020,” Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said.

Several agencies claimed that the impact of climate change had already been felt in some regions, making it more urgent for villages to learn to adapt.

“Right now, the rise in sea level is predicted to have sunk 24 islands in Indonesia. It means that while negotiations [on climate change] are happening on the global stage, the impact has been felt in villages,” said Selamet Daroyni, the climate change adaptation project officer at Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) Indonesia.

Furthermore, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) predicts that the number of natural disasters will increase next year due to abnormal weather, such as a heavier rainy season, which is predicted to peak in February 2017.

According to Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) data, 64.7 million people in 315 cities and regencies will be threatened by floods, while 40.9 million people in 247 cities and regencies are at risk of landslides.

By 2050, 2,000 islands and 42 million houses in the country are predicted to be underwater from rising sea levels, according to the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry.

Despite the high risks, many villages have not built resilience against climate change, resulting in many casualties and destruction.

“How can they [village residents] survive if they don’t have the right knowledge?” Selamet said.

Climate change adaptation seeks to lower the risks posed by the consequences of climate change.

Adaptation measures may include large-scale infrastructure changes, such as building defenses to protect against sea-level rises or improving the quality of road surfaces to withstand hotter temperatures.

Behavioral shifts, such as individuals using less water, farmers planting different crops, and more households and businesses buying flood insurance, are also integral to building climate resilience.

thejakartapost.com