Designing a Climate Adaptive World
Rajbhandari was one of the more than two dozen youths who participated in this unique competition organized by USAID, the US Embassy and the Hariyo Ban Program. The competition was launched to mark International Earth Day (April 22) and World Environment Day (June 5) by raising awareness about climate change issues, especially among youth. The competition was entitled ‘Deconstruct – Climate. Change. Impact.’, and youths between the ages of 18 and 40 were invited to submit original infographics covering a variety of climate change issues such as causes, impacts, mitigation and adaptation measures. An info-graphic is a visual graphic tool that breaks down complex data. It is now a popular way to engage and inform the general public about critical issues that were otherwise produced in dense report formats.
The top ten entries were selected in the second week of May. As a special recognition of their efforts, these contestants were taken on a field visit to two USAID projects in Kaski district – Hariyo Ban Program and Initiative for Climate Change Adaptation (ICCA), so that they could have a better understanding of climate change adaptation activities in the field. “The field trip was an eye-opener for me,” says Rajbhandari, who labored for over two weeks and sifted through innumerable resource materials to research for his info-graphic. “I really appreciated the opportunity to meet vulnerable farming communities in Kaski and observe the impacts of climate change along with measures undertaken to adapt to them.” His feelings are echoed by 24-year-old Shreezan Shrestha, “The sight of Begnas Lake shrinking left me awestruck and made me realize the urgency of the situation.” Shrestha won the third prize at the event.
After the field trip, contestants were mentored by a senior graphic designer and an environmental journalist for two weeks to help enrich the design and content of their info-graphics. One of the top ten info-graphics, covering climate change in the urban scenario, was sent in by 30-year-old Ankit Dhakal. “My idea was to represent the city as a whole. I wanted to focus on the potential impacts of climate change along with solutions that can reduce the impacts,” explains Dhakal. Judges were suitably impressed by the clean lines of the design and its scientific content, and Dhakal was awarded second prize. Dhakal was delighted with the win, which he had not expected. “I just wanted to showcase, through my design, that there will always be solutions to adapt to climate change impacts. One simple example was the use of rooftops to enhance greenery.”
Rajbhandari also agrees that main way to adapt to the impacts brought about by rapidly changing climate is to first sensitize the general public about it. According to him, the best way to do this is through interactive events and mass media campaigns that shed light on this complex issue. Dhakal adds, “Spreading information on climate change is extremely important given the connectivity of the environment with all of humanity, and especially considering the state of the world in the future. The trick is to present matters simply and with the aid of graphics and illustrations, so that everyone can easily grasp the concept.” To this, Shrestha adds, “We always talk and hear of climate change but it is essential that all of us actually contribute something to spread awareness about it. So I designed my info-graphic for lay people to help them grasp the nuances of the issue.”
It was this conviction in their abilities that propelled Rajbhandari and Dhakal to first and second position respectively. Meanwhile, Shrestha was no less efficient in his approach. To begin with, he submitted a single info-graphic on the impacts of climate change, but after the two-week support,, he came up with a series of info-graphics depicting impacts and including solutions as well. The other top participants also worked hard to revise the design and content of their info-graphics. The final top ten submissions, that included a video, were displayed for an entire week at the City Musuem, Durbar Marg, from June 5 to June 12, 2014, as a celebration of the Environment Week. Inaugurated by John Stamm, Director of the Social, Environmental and Economic Development Office, USAID Nepal, the week-long exhibition attracted great interest. The info-graphics will now be used as communication tools. To view the top ten info-graphics, please visit: http://on.fb.me/1ofZnv4.
By Richa Bhattarai, Communications Officer, WWF Nepal, Hariyo Ban Program
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Disclaimer: The Hariyo Ban Program is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this article are the responsibility of WWF and its consortium partners and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.