RCE Sundarbans - 2019

Biodiverse Adaptation to Climate Change through Traditional Knowledge and Customary Sustainable Use
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Biodiverse Adaptation to Climate Change through Traditional Knowledge and Customary Sustainable Use
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Sundarbans
Contributing organization(s) : 
Unnayan Onneshan
Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka
Koyra Bonojibi Bohumikhi Unnayan Samity (Koyra Forest Dependent Peoples’ Cooperative)
Horinagar Bonojibi Bohumukhi Unnayan Samity (Horinagar Forest Dependent Peoples’ Cooperative), and
Adibasi Munda Unnayan Samity (Indigenous Munda Cooperative)
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir
Organizational Affiliation: 
Unnayan Onneshan and University of Dhaka
Format of project: 
Manuscript and powerpoint
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Monday, March 11, 2019
Additional resources: 
• Current State: Evidence of Resource Vulnerability of The Sundarbas
• Role of Traditional Knowledge in Effective Conservation, Sustainable Utilization and Restoration of Biodiversity Resources of the Sundarbans
• Community Based Mangrove Agro Aqua Silvi (CMAAS) Culture in the Sundrabans ECA
• Enhancement of Resilience Capacity through Sustainable Conservation based upon Traditional Knowledge in the Sundarbans

SDG - 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Unnayan Onneshan
16/2 Indira Road
Farmgate, Dhaka
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
The Sundarbans is located at the great delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna (GBM) rivers at the edge of Bay of Bengal and is the largest contiguous single-tract mangrove ecosystem in the world. The Sundarbans was recognized as a Natural World Heritage Site in 1997 by UNESCO and as a Ramsar Site of international importance. Various types of ecosystems (forest, coastal and wetland) make the Sundarbans home to uniquely adapted aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna. A significant number of people maintains livelihoods by utilizing those resources and thus provides a unique hotspot for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
The Sundarbans of Bangladesh, known as the lung of the country, now can be identified as an important case of ecologically vulnerable area in terms of degradation of biodiversity resources. Over the last few decades, it has been experiencing major ecological and physiographical changes and losing its resources due to both human interventions and climatic changes. Sea level rise and several natural disasters, caused by climate change, particularly put damaging impacts on the forest. The major anthropogenic causes of degradation are: illicit destruction, conversion of forestland into agriculture and aquaculture for shrimp cultivation etc.
November, 2017 to November, 2018
The project applies and connects diverse knowledge systems to understand the sustainability of a traditional knowledge based integrated cultivation method, innovated by the indigenous people and local communities (IPLCs), which combines some floral and faunal species as a response to the critical impacts of anthropogenic pressures and climate change on the Sundarbans of Bangladesh, with emphasis on participatory processes in generation of knowledge on application of endogenous, ecosystem based solutions. Utilizing the Indigenous and Local Knowledge (ILK) platforms, organised in three cooperatives - Harinagar Bonojibi Bohumukhi Unnayan Samity, Koyra Bonojibi Bohumukhi Unnayan Samity and Munda Adivasi Bonojibi Bohumukhi Unnayan Samity, the research demonstrates that the traditional knowledge system can significantly contribute to the sustainable management of biodiversity of resources, both within the protected areas system and potentially as other effective area-based conservation measures, if they are given a chance and are supported by government and non-government agencies. It also documents as to how actors and external drivers (industrialisation, overharvesting, pollution, destructive fishing and habitat degradation) amidst institutional fragility cause losses of biodiversity.Thus, the proposed project is expected to contribute to biodiversity conservation as well as to the adaptation to climate change while enhancing the livelihoods of the disadvantaged IPLCs.
This project aims to assess the sustainability of such an alternative practice to commercial shrimp cultivation-the Community Based Mangrove Agro-Aqua-Silvi-Culture (CMAASC) and a mechanism to adapt to damages and vulnerabilities caused by the changing climatic conditions and if it would be found to be sustainable a pilot project will be designed to promote the practices at a broader level
Activities and/or practices employed: 
● Organized and mobilized the IPLCs through three grassroots cooperatives for group consultations to prepare a methodological tool box.

● Conducted Participatory Vulnerability Assessment to assess the on-the-ground situation of floral and faunal species

● Specified the sustainability indicators and assessing the CMAASC based on the identified indicators

● Undertook Cost-Benefit analysis

● Prepared an inventory of traditional CMAASC practices that can be improved and adapted using a combination of traditional and scientific knowledge

● Verified the findings through participatory discussion with the community people

● Finalized the findings

● Designed a pilot project
Size of academic audience: 
• The project organized group consultation with the traditional resource users, conducted participatory vulnerability resource assessments, specified sustainability indicators, assessed the cultivation method based on indicators, undertook a cost-benefit analysis, verified and finalized the findings, designed a pilot project and disseminated the findings at policy level.
• The project has exhibited that CMAASC - a mixture of traditional and scientifically based cultivation of mangrove faunal and floral species – is more profitable and has negligible environmental impacts as compared to commercial shrimp culture, which has caused habitat degradation and biodiversity loss.
• The Cooperatives have mobilized the traditional forest users or Banajibis and provided a space for discussion, consultation, planning, and claiming their rights. Moreover, the Cooperatives have also become platforms for inspiration for innovative options, such as locally available climate adaptive economic activities.
Lessons learned: 
CMAASC has been found to be as a long-term community-based adaptation measure and an alternative to commercial shrimp culture. CMAASC can be promoted as a long-term community-based adaptation measure that responds to the agro-ecological zone’s associated climate risks.
The community-based biodiverse adaptation mechanisms help reduce pressure on the Sundarbans by reversing mangrove degradation, reducing habitat vulnerability and providing forest resources while ensuring livelihood security for IPLCs through the generation of multiple income sources.
The contributions of IPLCs towards vulnerable ecosystems and knowledge regarding adaptation to changing ecosystems have to be promoted in the post 2020 CBD framework.
Key messages: 
Indigenously innovated community based biodiverse adaptation through traditional knowledge and customary sustainable use is a nature based local solution to climate change, which also promotes sustainable consumption and production and act as mitigating climate – two SDGs. This also involves women and indigenous and local communities as the key actors.
The project received funding from the Satoyama Development Mechanism (SDM) 2017 of the UNU-IPSI.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon A CMAAS Farm in the Sundarbans.jpg (13.96 MB) A CMAAS Farm in the Sundarbans Tonoy Rahman
Image icon An aerial view of CMAASC in the Sundarbans.jpg (714.37 KB) An aerial view of CMAASC in the Sundarbans Tonoy Rahman
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere 
SDG 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture 
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
Disaster Risk Reduction 
Traditional Knowledge  
Plants & Animals 
Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development – Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 4 - Empowering and mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level