Information for Climate Change Adaptation: Lessons and Needs in South Asia

Lessons and Needs in South Asia

Governments, businesses, and citizens in South Asia all need access to good information to make decisions in a changing climate. However, the uncertainty of climate change’s impacts, complexity associated with climate vulnerability, and the lengthy time-frame along which global warming will unfold make the “adaptation information agenda” unclear. This paper, which served as background for a South Asian regional workshop on information use in climate adaptation decision-making, aims to identify barriers to information use for climate adaptation in South Asia and proposes four areas of further inquiry, which were discussed at the workshop. Read more

WRI working papers contain preliminary research, analysis, findings, and recommendations. They are circulated to stimulate timely discussion and critical feedback and to influence ongoing debate on emerging issues. Most working papers are eventually published in another form and their content may be revised.



Working Paper

Licensed under Creative Commons (more info).

Ideally, adaptation information will be tailored to meet the needs of individual information users. However, in many cases, information is supply-driven, shaped in large part by the interests of researchers and the limited data available to them. In these cases, it’s oftentimes challenging for users to access, understand, and apply the information available to them. To support effective adaptation over the long term, improved systems for producing, managing, using, disseminating, and learning from information in South Asia are needed. Significant new capacities will likely need to be developed to meet these needs.

This paper served as background for a South Asian regional workshop, which brought together adaptation information users and producers, as well as climate change experts. The workshop aimed to inform likely new investments in the information base for climate adaptation. Convened by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Development Alternatives, with support from the UK Department for International Development, the workshop intended to identify:

  • priorities for information investment,

  • opportunities for improving information use, and

  • mechanisms for deepening dialogue between information users and producers in the region.

This paper aimed to support progress toward these workshop objectives by:

  • identifying barriers to effective information production, access, and application in the South Asian region;

  • posing a practical vocabulary for characterizing relevant information types;

  • articulating a concise set of uses for adaptation information; and

  • raising a set of critical issues around which to frame workshop discussions.

The paper draws on desk and interview research conducted by WRI from November 2011 through February 2012, as well as feedback obtained from a roundtable event held on the margins of the UNFCCC Conference o


Solar forestry, in short

Solar forestry:
Since the TreeCredit food, income, climate system is envisioned as a part of an integral solution to world problems, we should include water and energy in the system too.
Especially alternative energy seems to conflict with trees, since trees bring shade and cut wind……but after all it might be a winning combination in many fields!
If a tree nursery and research center will be combined with a PV solar plant of +_+ 500kW (the optimum size!), mainly to sell to the grid.

Use the shade of the solar panels to protect the seedlings against the harsh tropical climate and the moisture of the plants to cool the solar panels from underneath, cooling improves their performance.
Synergy includes combining Project Financing, Planning, Viability– Housing, Roads, Fencing, Maintenance, Research facility, — Work, Income, Water + Energy supply, Community Participation
see for details



A project of the People’s Solidarity Association (PSA), Trichirapalli, Tamil Nadu in India.

To facilitate growing of 100.000 extra trees in 20 villages mainly by women and children,  by an educational campaign, by starting tree nurseries. and  by paying monthly 1 rupee per tree for 4 years,  through the microfinance structure of  PSA’s partner Anisha.

This project wants to try out  a new concept (‘tree credits’) to combine existing microfinance structures and other community based activities with climate measures and to work on grass roots empowerment and income from agroforestry. Income generating, water supply and solar PV based power supply will play a more prominent role in the further stages of the project.

Lord Nicholas Stern: “The two defining challenges of our century are climate change and poverty. And if we fail on one, we will fail on the other”. 2009

Ban Ki Moon, UN chief: “Like in Microfinance, women can be agents of climate change too.” December 2, 2009,

“When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope.” Prof. Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement, Nobel peace price winner


The People’s Solidarity Association (PSA) is a community development NGO, founded in 1980  by a group of students social activists of St.Joseph’s college, Trichirapalli, with the vision of achieving sustainable livelihood among marginalised people with values of social justice and equity.

In the past, PSA had implemented quite a few major projects such as low-cost house construction for flood victims, ecological agriculture training among dryland farmers ,early childhood education in remote villages and microfinance for the economically active poor women.

Motivating school students and promoting tree planting remains an ongoing activity of PSA. See :http// –of-trees/

In 2004, PSA promoted a separate organisation by the name Anisha Microfin Association that concentrates on micro-credit and related activities.

PSA is actively interacting in  50 villages around Trichirapalli, Tamilnadu, India.

Regarding legal status ,PSA  is registered as a Society under Tamilnadu Government Society Registration Act.It’s Registration No is:49/1980.

PSA is also authorised to receive Foreign Contribution as it has been registered under Government of India, Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, vide Registration No:07604001.

This project as presented here, and links with ongoing activities of PSA, see

These environmental actions were a response to the long felt need among man to ‘green’ the villages by planting trees and to generate more income and resources. In addition, to making a possitive contribution to the biodiversity and global warming.

In May 2011 John Peter (CEO of PSA) and Ferdinand Swart meet for a week in Sri Lanka  to conceive the outlines of the project; both initiators are active in these fields since the 80’s. FS  hatched the  ‘tree-credits’ community forestry concept in 2009 in a attempt to channel carbon credits, due for newly planted trees to the grassroots; and to work through existing microfinance structures in an attempt to minimize the carbon footprint of the operations and to empower women.

The Project

This programme aims to spread awareness about how growing trees could improve the village environment, generating food, income, firewood, fodder and much more, while helping wildlife,  biodiversity, and the global climate as well.

The significance of trees for the world climate debate is clear and well researched. Trees are the most cost effective way to unbind CO2 and to fight global warming (see Nicholas Stern 2009).

Tree planting can have a real impact, locally and even globally, trees attract rain and cool the environment. If we would succeed to double global the tree/forest cover by 2050, most the actual CO2 excess, caused by men, will be absorbed, and this without radically altering our lifestyles or growth prospects (see Petrus Hoff, 2009).

This project targets mainly women and children. Usually they are the ones involved in collecting seeds and saplings, starting tree nursery and growing trees.

The project envisions 1 lakh trees to be planted in 20 villages.

Besides an educational campaign and helping them with setting up of nurseries and finding quality seedlings, we will pay those tending the trees a small amount (Rs1 per tree) each month for 4 years if the trees are maintained well.

Not only all kind woody trees and bamboo, which are planted will qualify, also protecting spontaneous upshots will count for monthly tree credits, since the effect is the same.

Mono culture plantations are not permitted under this scheme. We recommend to make

mixture of species, such as:

• Trees for shade, beauty and holy trees for public spaces

• Food forest: compound with mixed trees providing crops of fruits, nuts, medicinal oils and other products for own use or to be traded

• Trees grown for timber, often as a financial security for their children

Experiments with agroforestry will be supported:

• Quick growing trees and bushes for fodder and firewood

• Nitrogen binding trees planted in singles for inter-cropping and fodder

The preparation of a village tree survey, plan and map by the tree group will be encouraged.


This project will be a grass roots initiative; a network of training and communications for individuals and groups (farmers, students, women), which allows them to build on their own internal strengths and develop best practices in tree growing, will be set up.

Since volunteer tree planting campaigns are usual lacking in follow up to protect the young trees, a monthly incentive of Rs.1 for each tree will be paid , for minimum of ten trees and maximum of 200 trees. This to provide some pocket money to the young planter and to promote saving habits. It will be presented as a reward, a fair share in the adult tree’s potential value in cash and carbon credits. Young trees as an investment for the future.

The payment is for 4 years and will be paid monthly into a special savings account (closely linked to the existing Anisha microfinance accounts) which each participant have to open.

All residents from 13 years of age will qualify, as individuals, families or groups (school classes, women groups, etc).

This proposal concerns implementation in 20 villages of in Trichirapalli district of Tamil Nadu state. We estimate to attract and target 50 participants in one village, so 1000 participants in total. This gives  the project some ecomony of scale, we expect 100 trees on an average per account holder per year, so we seek funding for 100.000 (one lakh) trees.

The total implementation and operations are geared in such a way to minimize overheads and keep carbon footprints low (or even negative). We like to link overheads to the amount paid directly to the villagers and so to the number of trees growing.

Because this is a pilot program, more efforts are needed to get things on the rails, overheads (including planting costs and extension services) will be still higher than the 10% target with which we are aiming.

The total amount sought for the complete is InRs 55 lakh (€ 83.300.-) spread over 4 years.

Disbursement: while these incentives are paid over a 4 year time span, overheads and start up costs like training the extension workers, are partly needed upfront. see for full disbursement scheme.

An insurance against freak weather disasters, like prolonged drought or fire will be integrated into the scheme. These funds will be used to replant any lost tree  and  provide even more security to the planter.

This insurance and the monthly “tree credits” make tree growing a full blown security, against which micro loans could be given at concessionary rates.

It also guarantees the continuity needed, when applying for carbon credits.

Ways will be explored to make the project self propelling, such as, just by motivating the groups to plant more trees or by establishing a tree fund in which a small percentage of fruits and other forest crops which are sold for cash have to be paid. By year five, when the first fruits can  be harvested, a Rs per tree per month might not be too much to pay back. These (re)payments will be used to plant even more trees.


We plan to develop this village forestry project step-by -step to an higher level of sustainability; to phase the total campaign in three projects to be implemented in separate years, gradually becoming economically more viable; from targeting mainly women and schools, to agroforestry and food forest, while we envision also combining forestry with PV solar power plant to supply power to the grid. Outlines of Part 2 (targeting farmers) and part 3 (income generation from PV solar plants and water management) can be found in App # and #


Considering the novel concept, such as combining climate measures through microfinance, we see enormous growth potential, both in scope as well as in size and spread therefore,  we highly emphasis future evaluation of the scheme and we envision that a consultancy unit might emerge from this evaluation.

TREE CREDITS in 20 tweets

Towards a Global System to provide Farmers, Women and Communities who grow Trees with an small
 monthly Income or Soft loan.

Problem setting:
Lord Nicholas Stern: “The two defining challenges of our century are climate change and poverty. And if we fail on one, we will fail on the other”. 2009

Solution line:
Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General: “Like in Microfinance, women can be agents of climate change too.” December 2, 2009

Viable solutions to global problems are inherently very complex, even such a simple concept as TREE CREDITS; still I succeeded to condense most of it into 20 tweets. For more in depth information see links.

TC1) If we plant 1.2Trillion trees (Qt. like existing forest) we might stabilize CO2 at a sustainable level by 2050.
TC2) If leave the planting of trees to the communities themselves, we might do it economically and without conflict.
TC3) If we work with women (and schools), like microfinance does, we might be effective
TC4) If we implement the project using existing NGOs, MFIs, GOs it might be even more efficient
TC5) If we allow for profits, to be made at all levels of organisation the project might go viral.
TC6) If we provide tree planters a regular monthly maintenance fee, many of their young trees will grow up
TC7) If we use the pay-per-tree principle at all levels, administration will be simplified and sponsoring made easy
TC8) If we develop standards and an internet payment system, the scheme could go worldwide

TC9) If we use social control like in MFI loan groups, the group being responsible about correct tree count, fraud might be minimal.
TC10) If we could have a tree count from the air or space (before + after situation) we could minimize the carbon footprint of monitoring

TC11) If we discourage monoculture and single species plantations and encourage endemic trees we will further biodiversity
TC12) If we support planting of traditional food “forests” around the homes, people could harvest most of their daily needs from there
TC13) If we promote agroforestry, the use of nitrogen binding trees for fertilizer, tropical farmers might triple their output
TC14) If we promote high yielding fruit, nut, rubber, coffee, medicinal and timber tree crops, a good income could be generated
TC15) While we should give most of the biomass back to the earth, some can be used in power plants and in wood saving stoves.

TC16) If we plant trees, our home environment will be shaded and our regional climate and rainfall will be stabilized

TC17) If we use wood + wood products to produce durable goods, like houses, cars, furniture and toys, the CO2 will stay locked-in, long term
TC18) “If we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope.” Prof. Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement

Practical action
TreeCredits principles have been introduced into the ongoing OARM (see ) rainforest replanting programmes, as that in the latest planting high yielding fruit, coconut and rubber trees have been mixed with the endemic jungle spieces, to secure a future food and income for the village. In Trichy TN India, Anisha permalink a local NGO/ MFI, has started a tree nursery and model food garden, and will introduce excess to a full tree-credits program soon.

So, not too many practical results yet, but at least each step of the plan is already working well, look at MFIs, “Community Development”, agricultural extension, agroforestry consultants, MFI crowd funding, like KIVA , CDM carbon credits, and I known all these fields first hand.

Innovative in the tree credit concept are:

  • micro-investing, suitable for tree growing
  • the standardized “pay-per-tree” practice
  • the commercial operation and marketing

To further work out (and start up!) these systems we would welcome an external grand.

Each part of this concept has been designed with the following question in mind:

Will this scheme become part of a global solution with a small carbon footprint and with simple and transparent implementation and monitoring systems, or be a part of the problem, (as so many do)? Will it bring peace and harmony?

FS 140412

Push for climate-smart agriculture in Africa

Microfinance Focus, December 9, 2011: President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that climate-smart agriculture offers a “triple win” for food security, adaptation, and mitigation. Climate-smart agriculture includes proven practical techniques including mulching, intercropping, conservation agriculture, crop rotation, integrated crop-livestock management, agro-forestry, improved grazing and improved water management.

Both Zuma and Annan addressed a side event at the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), for early action on climate-smart agriculture, an initiative driven by the African Union and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Climate-smart agriculture is being mooted for all of Africa to deal with climate change impacts that have been taking a toll on food production and security.

“Climate-smart agriculture seeks to enhance agricultural productivity by improving on resilience. Farmers should be at the centre of this transformation of the agriculture sector,” said Zuma. Research shows that agriculture has a huge potential to cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gases through changes in agricultural technologies and management practices, particularly in developed countries.

Annan, chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution, said Africa must grow its own food to meet its needs and also be able to export any surplus. He said this would require a collaborative effort from farmers, businesses, government and scientists. “We need the creativity, leadership, resources, expertise and solidarity of every organization and individual if we are to find solutions to this common challenge. We all have a part to play as well in ensuring our leaders do not shy away from the hard decisions necessary to ensure the world we pass on to future generations is a stable, secure and healthy one,” said Annan.

Zuma also took the opportunity to ask governments to consider promoting organic farming systems. “Organic agriculture has a smaller footprint on the natural resource base and the health of agricultural workers than conventional agriculture… food security, poverty and climate change are closely linked and should not be considered separately,” said Zuma.


Zuma and Annan both said there had to be a link between climate change, food security and poverty. “We need to engage on emerging issues including finance and technological support and approaches such as climate-smart agriculture that are geared towards addressing food security, adaptation and mitigation,” said Zuma. He added that investments in agriculture development and incentives provided to local farmers must be complemented by macro-economic policies to ensure sustainability.

Carbon dioxide ended last Ice Age: study

Thursday, 5 April 2012


Ice core

Ice core data from 80 locations around the world indicates changes in CO2 led or were synchronous with global warming at the end of the last Ice Age, according to a new study. (Reuters)

Carbon dioxide was the big driver that ended the last Ice Age, according to a new study of ice core data from around the world.

About 10,000-20,000 years ago, Earth started to emerge from a quarter million years of deep freeze as the terrestrial ice sheet rolled back and warmer temperatures prevailed.

What caused the end of this age, known as the Pleistocene, has long been debated.

Until now, the main evidence has come from ice cores drilled in Antarctica whose air bubbles are a tiny time capsule of our climate past.

Traces of CO2 in Antarctic ice show that carbon concentrations in the atmosphere rose after temperatures were on the rise.

This timing has been used by sceptics as proof that man-made carbon gases either do not cause global warming or at least do not make it as bad as mainstream scientists say.

But the new study, published in Nature , indicates that the Antarctic record doesn’t reflect global temperature rise.

The study is based on 80 ice cores and sedimentary samples taken from Greenland, lake bottoms and sea floors on every continent.

The data suggests that while changes in CO2 concentration did not trigger deglaciation, they were either synchronous with, or led global warming during the various steps of deglaciation.

“Putting all of these records together into a reconstruction of global temperatures shows a beautiful correlation with rising CO2 at the end of the Ice Age,” says lead author Dr Jeremy Shakun of Harvard University.

A rise in carbon dioxide “actually precedes global temperature range, which is what you would expect if CO2 is causing the warming.”

Orbital “trigger”

The study refutes theories by sceptics that natural changes in Earth’s orbit, bringing the planet closer to the Sun, caused the warming, not a rise in CO2.

“Our study shows that CO2 was a much more important factor and was really driving worldwide warming during the last deglaciation,” says Shakun.

“Orbital changes are the pacemaker. They’re the trigger, but they don’t get you too far.”

Shakun and colleagues theorise that orbital shift boosted sunlight that warmed the northern hemisphere between 21,500 and 19,000 years ago, causing some of its icesheet to melt and spill gigatonnes of chilly freshwater into the North Atlantic.

The big gush had a dampening effect on the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, a well-known ‘conveyor belt’ of current by which warm water travels northwards on the surface of the Atlantic before cooling and returning southwards at depth.

When the current braked, warm water began to build up in the southern Atlantic, where it swiftly started to warm up Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

Warming the south in turn shifted the wind and melted sea ice, releasing some of the vast amounts of CO2 that had been absorbed by the ocean and stored in its depths, according to their hypothesis.

“CO2 was a big part of bringing the world out of the last Ice Age and it took about 10,000 years to do it,” says Shakun.

“Now CO2 levels are rising again, but this time an equivalent increase in CO2 has occurred in only about 200 years, and there are clear signs that the planet is already beginning to respond.”

Another ingredient

Shakun and colleagues work provides a “firm data-driven basis for a plausible chain of events for most of the last termination,” writes Eric W Wolff from the British Antarctic Survey in an accompanying commentary in the same issue of Nature.

But Wolff says the theory that warming was initially triggered by orbital shift should be “treated with caution”.

He says there are few temperature records in the northernmost latitude band. There are only records for Greenland, which shows warming also occurred between 62,000 and 60,000 years ago that didn’t lead to deglaciation.

“In short another ingredient is needed to explain the link between insolation and termination, and the triggers for the series of events.”

That ingredient could be the extent of the ice sheet, he says.

“It has been proposed that terminations occur only when northern ice-sheet extent is particularly large,” he writes.

Tags: climate-change

TreeCredits, super short explained


Lord Nicholas Stern: The two defining challenges of our century are climate change and poverty. And if we fail on one, we will fail on the other. 2009

Ban Ki Moon: Like in Microfinance, women can be agents of climate change too. 2009

Tree credits is a new concept to make tree planting go viral, especially in developing countries, following these principles:

  • To further biodiversity and improve local climate
  • To empower local people especially women
  • To generate income and maximise the value of the various forest products
  • To minimize the carbon footprint of implementation and monitoring
  • To organize simple method to channel global climate funds to the grass roots
  • To learn of KIVA about crowd funding and develop a more long-term version.
  • To make the schemes profit making, so the forestry projects might spread like MicroFinance/MicroInsurance do.


Main aspects of the used concept of community based forestry

  1. Cool the climate; forests play a central role in all scenarios
  2. Plant and grow billions of trees worldwide
  3. Food production in “food forests”
  4. Promote agro-forestry
  5. Rural income generation, tree based economy
  6. Further nature and biodiversity by planting mixed plantations
  7. Small scale, community based implementation with ‘village tree plan’
  8. Act locally, think globally, prepare for scale up
  9. Use standards for triple audit (climate, social, nature)
  10. Work only through existing channels to prevend duplication
  11. Operate like (or through) microfinance groups with account holders
  12. Use “profit” principle to make the scheme attractive at  all levels
  13. Make small monthly payments for tree maintanance, combine this with savings
  14. Introduced “pay per tree” principle, even for overheads, to simplify monitoring
  15. Use same channels to introduce other climate measures
  16. Use “no cure, no pay” principle for donor contributions
  17. Use also satellite images for monitoring
  18. Arrange carbon credits (CDM or VER)
  19. Regulate timber felling and sales
  20. This concept, combining climate measures with MFIs, merits the foundation of  a separate consultancy.

1) Development of forests covering the earth, million of years ago, removed carbon from the then atmosphere and made the planet suitable for certain plant and animal communities, including humans. But carbon emissions due to deforestation and use of fossil carbon over the last century have reversed the process. This brought the role of forests in carbon storage at the centre of climate change strategies.

Tree credits aims to facilitate planting of 1.2 trillion trees by 2050, enough for about doubling of the existing forest cover, to absorb most of the excess CO2 produced by men.