Assessing health, livelihoods, ecosystem services and poverty alleviation in populous deltas

Lead Research Organisation: University of Dundee
Department Name: Water Law

Abstract

Delta regions are probably the most vulnerable type of coastal environment and their ecosystem services face multiple stresses in the coming decades. These stresses include, amongst others, local drivers due to land subsidence, population growth and urbanisation within the deltas, regional drivers due to changes in catchment management (e.g. upstream land use and dam construction), and global climate change impacts such as sea-level rise.The ecosystem services of river deltas support high population densities, estimated at over 500 million people globally, with particular concentrations in Southern and Eastern Asia and Africa. A large proportion of these people experience extremes of poverty and are severely exposed to vulnerability from environmental and ecological stress and degradation. In areas close to or below the poverty boundary, both subsistence and cash elements of the economy tend to rely disproportionately heavily on ecosystem services which underpin livelihoods.Understanding how to sustainably manage the ecosystem services in delta regions and thus improve health and reduce poverty and vulnerability requires consideration of all these stresses and their complex interaction. This proposal aims to develop methods to understand and characterise the key drivers of change in ecosystem services that affect the environment and economic status in the world's populous deltas. This will be done through analysis of the evolving role of ecosystem services, exploring the implications of changes for the livelihoods of delta residents, and developing management and policy options that will be beneficial now and in the future in the face of the large uncertainties of the next few decades and beyond.The extensive coastal fringe of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta within Bangladesh has been selected as the pilot study area for this work. This is because Bangladesh is almost entirely located on one of the world's largest and most dynamic deltas. It is characterised by densely populated coastal lowlands with significant poverty, supported to a large extent by natural ecosystems such as the Sunderbahns (the largest mangrove forest in the world). It is under severe development pressure due to many growing cities, eg Khulna and the capital, Dhaka.At present the importance of ecosystems services to poverty and livelihoods is poorly understood. This is due to due to the complexity of interactions between physical drivers, environmental pressures and the human responses to stresses and the resultant impacts on ecosystems. Government policy rarely takes up the ecosystems services perspective and as a result an holistic overview of their value is often overlooked.This project aims to address this gap by providing policy makers with the knowledge and tools to enable them to evaluate the effects of policy decisions on people's livelihoods. This will be done by creating a holistic approach to formally evaluating ecosystems services and poverty in the context of changes such as subsidence and sea level rise, land degradation and population pressure in delta regions. This will be tested and applied in coastal Bangladesh and tested conceptually in other populous deltas.

Planned Impact

Refer to Lead Research Organisation Application
 
Description The project findings, especially with respect to the development of scenarios in a highly participatory way, are currently being incorporated into the development of ongoing Bangladesh DeltaPlan 2100 work. This is a large scale Dutch-funded project for the environmental and social sustainability of the GBM delta in Bangladesh. Discussions are actively under way regarding the best way to incorporate the ESPA Deltas findings, but this looks set to happen. THe plan will then incorporate as far as possible the project findings to inform planning over the next 85 years.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Influencing Implementation of Bangladesh DeltaPlan2100
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Description Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA)
Amount $10,000,000 (CAD)
Funding ID 107642-001 
Organisation International Development Research Centre 
Sector Public
Country Canada
Start 02/2014 
End 09/2018
 
Description Ramganga 
Organisation Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur
Department Department of Earth Science
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Contributed to drafting and preparation of bid for Newton Bhabha Fund - Ramganga River Health: Integrating Hydrology, Water Quality and Ecology for Water Resource Analysis, Ecosystem Science and Decision Making
Collaborator Contribution As above - Council ref. NE/N015517/1
Impact Bid as set out above. Bid unsuccessful, but further work now ongoing to capitalise on partnership
Start Year 2015
 
Description Ramganga 
Organisation Meteorological Office UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Contributed to drafting and preparation of bid for Newton Bhabha Fund - Ramganga River Health: Integrating Hydrology, Water Quality and Ecology for Water Resource Analysis, Ecosystem Science and Decision Making
Collaborator Contribution As above - Council ref. NE/N015517/1
Impact Bid as set out above. Bid unsuccessful, but further work now ongoing to capitalise on partnership
Start Year 2015
 
Description Ramganga 
Organisation University of Aberdeen
Department Department of Geography and Environment
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Contributed to drafting and preparation of bid for Newton Bhabha Fund - Ramganga River Health: Integrating Hydrology, Water Quality and Ecology for Water Resource Analysis, Ecosystem Science and Decision Making
Collaborator Contribution As above - Council ref. NE/N015517/1
Impact Bid as set out above. Bid unsuccessful, but further work now ongoing to capitalise on partnership
Start Year 2015
 
Description Adapting to Climate Change in the GBM Delta- Prospects for Law & Governance in Coastal Bangladesh 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Conference Presentation at Water and Oceans in Times of Climate Change, Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law, Utrecht University, Netherlands, 31st October 2013.

Interdisciplinary conference with the main aim of bringing together lawyers working on water and ocean law, sustainability and adaptation to climate change in order to discuss how the law can and should achieve sustainable management of oceans and river basins.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.uu.nl/faculty/leg/nl/organisatie/departementen/departementrechtsgeleerdheid/organisatie/o...
 
Description Bangladesh Delta: Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited presentation at Scottish Freshwater Group, 25th October 2012 at University of Stirling. Presented on the governance aspects of the ESPA Deltas project, especially links between the governance and physical modelling elements.

Too early to say.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description EGU General Assembly, Vienna 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of 'The role of governance in connecting ecosystem services and livelihoods: lessons from Bangladesh' (Allan, Lim, Islam, Salehin, Rahman) to a very wide variety of physical and social scientists at one of the premier natural science meetings in the world.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Fifth Stakeholder Workshop, co-organised with Planning Commission of Government of Bangladesh, Dhaka, September 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This event served to introduce the integrated biophysical modelling results from the project to stakeholders in full, and to present the findings from the three rounds of household surveys that have been conducted. The meeting identified a number of key ways in which project outputs might influence policy development and implementation in Bangladesh, through the provision of additional information and enhanced modelling capacity: the World Bank's coastal infrastructure and polder rehabilitation project; the development of the new National Adaptation Plan by the UNDP; the DeltaPlan2100; understanding salinity and groundwater regulation in the delta region; and achieving greater clarity on the potential consequences of the renegotiation of the Farakka agreement in 2026.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description First Stakeholder meeting held in Dhaka for policy makers and scientific experts 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/parliamentarians
Results and Impact We led a series of two stakeholder workshops on 22 and 23 October 2013 for the purposes of scenario development. These were held to ask decision makers and technical experts to imagine what Bangladesh might look like in 2050, and involved complex downscaling of stakeholder-identified priorities through the IPCC SSP approach to the case area level. The workshop sparked a great deal of debate and discussion, taking far longer than anticipated, but leading to the development of a highly detailed version of Business as Usual in 2050, precipitating the drafting of three scenario narratives.

Discussions are ongoing to see how the scenario narratives developed from this meeting can be incorporated into the Bangladesh government's DeltaPlan2100, a major ongoing effort to strengthen resilience of populations in the GBM delta.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Fourth Stakeholder meeting, jointly held with Planning Commission of Government of Bangladesh, Dhaka 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Stakeholder meeting where the results of the sectoral modelling efforts of the ESPA Deltas project were outlined. Preliminary ideas for modellable interventions were identified by stakeholders for further modelling by technical experts within the project. The purpose of this was to ensure that interventions modelled by the Project corresponded as closely as possible to the priorities of stakheolders and those making decisions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Governance, Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation in Coastal Bangladesh- Interdisciplinary Approaches of the ESPA Deltas Project 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An overview of the interdisciplinary approach of the ESPA Deltas project, presented to The Graduate School of Natural Resources Law, Policy and Management.

None as yet.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Local Level Workshops held in two case areas in Bangladesh 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Two local level participatory workshops on governance issues and barriers to implementation were held in the project area.

Two local level participatory workshops (on governance issues and barriers to implementation) were held in the project area: one in Morrelganj UZ (Bagerhat) and the other in Dumuria UZ (Khulna). Data was collected in the form of 17 flip charts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Presentation of findings at Deltas in Times of Climate Change II, Rotterdam, September 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Michelle Lim presented the following paper: The disaster management governance framework of Bangladesh- A model of good practice? She was awarded runner up in the Best Young Scientist Presentation competition for the paper.

Too early to say.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.climatedeltaconference2014.org/results
 
Description Presentation of findings at Society of Legal Scholars Annual Conference, Nottingham, September 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation paper presentation
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Michelle Lim presented a talk entitled "Re-imagining Environmental Law for Managing Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation - Multidisciplinary Approaches for Maximising Legal Effectiveness in The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) Delta" (co-authored by Michelle Lim and Andrew Allan. The paper was well-received, especially as it pushed the boundaries of the discipline of Law into scenario development, teaching tools and mathematical modelling.

We were approached by the editor of a journal dedicated to the teaching of law (for the Association of Law Teachers), with a view to developing an article for a special issue in 2015. This has been further developed successfully through application of the approach in postgraduate teaching in October 2014.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://conference.legalscholars.ac.uk/nottingham/index.cfm#
 
Description Presentation of second set of findings at Deltas in Times of Climate Change II, Rotterdam, September 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation by Michelle Lim of "Multi-scale governance of ecosystem services and poverty in the GBM Delta - the Resilience Challenge" (Michelle Lim and Andrew Allan co-authors) to large scale conference on international deltas.

Cross-fertilisation of governance into Resilience debate precipitated much discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.climatedeltaconference2014.org/results
 
Description Presentation of teaching tool at expert colloquium, Jakarta 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation (Allan, Lim) of teaching and research tool at IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Annual Colloquium, Jakarta, 8 September 2015. Generated a great deal of interest, and encouraged development of publication which is now being revised in light of peer review.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://iucnael2015.fh.atmajaya.ac.id/?page_id=382
 
Description Second Stakeholder workshop held in Dhaka for approval of scenario narratives and interface with DeltaPlan2100 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact We led (Andrew Allan chairing with Prof Shamsul Alam, member of the General Economics Division of the Planning Commission of the Government of Bangladesh (GoB)) the second major stakeholder workshop for the project, held at the highest level in Bangladesh on 14 May 2014 (co-organised by BUET and the Planning Commission of GoB. Meeting was attended by 95 policy makers, donors and experts, including two Ministers, and the Secretary of the Planning Division of GoB. Participants were asked to evaluate the scenario narratives and comment on management interventions and barriers to implementation. Highly successful meeting, generating a great deal of debate and dramatically heightening project profile with decision makers.

Further engagement of ESPA Deltas project with Planning Commission and DeltaPlan2100.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Stakeholders and Scenarios 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Presentation of 'Stakeholders and Scenarios" at Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience Annual Symposium, Dundee, February 2015. Precipitated many quesitons about the integration of stakeholder views with governance and modelling results.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Sustainable Development Goals in Deltas (London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation: Understanding the policy context
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.espadelta.net/resources_/events/
 
Description Third Stakeholder Workshop - Technical workshop on translation of scenario narratives into scientific assumptions suitable for modelling. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We led a high-level workshop held in BUET, Dhaka on 10 November 2014, where national decision makers and technical experts (from Bangladesh and from donor agencies, representing biophysical and socio-economic arenas) deliberated on the scientific assumptions that will be used to drive project integrated modelling. 38 senior experts attended.

The project can determine where consensus is possible on technical scientific assumptions, and also the level of uncertainty associated with certain biophysical and socio-economic issues.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Workshop on Climate Change and Groundwater, SOAS, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited Presentation of "Groundwater regulation in delta environments - challenges and future projections in Bangladesh" to expert panel (around 20) at Workshop on Climate Change and Groundwater - law and policy perspectives, held at School of Oriental and African Studies, 29-30 may 2015.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description World Water Congress, Edinburgh May 2015 - I 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Talk on "Incorporating stakeholder views in policy planning through scenarios: ESPA Deltas experience in Bangladesh" at major international congress.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description World Water Congress, Edinburgh May 2015 - II 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited presentation "Adaptation in the context of transboundary waters: the case of Bangladesh" at major international congress.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015