CBA17: local solutions inspiring global action


CBA17 brings together practitioners, grassroots representatives, local and national government planners, policymakers and donors working at all levels and scales to discuss how we can drive ambition for a climate-resilient future.

Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers, 2 Charoen Krung Road Soi 30 (Captain Bush Lane), Siphya, Bangrak, Bangkok, 10500 Thailand (in-person)
Community-based adaptation
A programme of work showing how IIED is supporting a community of practice and advancing knowledge on community-based adaptation to climate change, and promoting South-South collaboration
Last updated 29 March 2023
A bustling riverway in Bangkok, Thailand

Heavy water traffic in Bangkok, Thailand (Photo: Frida Aguilar Estrada on Unsplash)

CBA17 logo

The 17th International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change (CBA17) takes place on 22-25 May 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand, and registration is now open.

For the first time since 2019 CBA will be held in-person, with a focus on networking and reconnecting. It offers participants four days of discussion, debate, peer-to-peer ‘skill-shares’ and knowledge exchange.

The CBA conference series aims to bring together a community of practitioners who are collectively seeking to reimagine solutions that enable transformative outcomes, through the agency of communities driving climate action.

CBA is a space for the adaptation community of practitioners to come together to share how to put the principles for locally led adaptation (LLA) into practice, recognising the complexities, innovations and challenges that must be overcome.

CBA events have always been a space for learning and sharing experiences, with a focus on acquiring new skills. The conferences offer an innovative, dynamic and interactive space, enabling participants from the CBA network to promote climate action.

The CBA17 agenda

The five themes for CBA17 are listed in the box below. Click on each theme title to see a description.

Nature-based solutions (NbS) are increasingly relied on to adapt to climate impacts, delivering biodiversity conservation and sustainable development such as ‘farming with nature’, ‘green infrastructure’ and ‘healthy landscapes’. But nature-based solutions are often overlooked, especially in urban settings. 


What is their potential to reduce vulnerability, enhance livelihoods and nurture wellbeing to climate impacts? With new agreements from COP27 and COP15, the moment to explore the links between climate adaptation and natural systems has never been more urgent.


This theme will explore how NbS can deliver effective adaptation: what these solutions look like, how they work, how they can be scaled up, how to create positive linkages between rural and urban communities, and what policy blocks and opportunities exist. We want to hear about transformative examples of NbS in practice – what have you learned in rural and urban spaces?

Too often, finance does not reach the local level where it’s needed most due to power asymmetries between providers and recipients of finance, alongside inscrutable procedural requirements and a wide range of other challenges. The impact is this sidelining of local solutions, local community engagement and a reduction in the amount of funding actually reaching the local level. Local actors end up bearing the burden of risk, further reinforcing the problems and undermining locally led adaptation.


This theme will bring together diverse actors working at different scales to explore innovative approaches for improving direct access to finance for local actors. We want to hear about decolonised approaches that are flexible, long term and that share risks fairly between donors, intermediaries and recipients. We'll explore how climate finance can be transparent and fair, creating the conditions for scaled-up, locally led adaptation. Experiences from the sessions will be collated in a call to action urging finance providers to take swift action in providing finance towards tried and tested approaches that enable locally led adaptation.

Young people have been championing entrepreneurial, policy and other innovations in urban and rural spaces to drive locally led adaptation. In the Sahel, young people are creating frameworks to restore degraded lands and soil biodiversity. In Southeast Asia, youth initiatives are building community resilience through innovative waste management. However, young people still face many constraints to their full participation in shaping the future.


In this theme, we want to hear about how young people are overcoming barriers and building successful youth-led climate action. We will explore questions such as how young people (particularly in the global South) can access/mobilise finance for their initiatives.


How can youth solutions benefit vulnerable communities and be inclusive? And how can young people translate global and national commitments into local actions, and vice versa? All these will be case study-based, providing opportunities to explore ‘real-life’ examples. 

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) including from the informal sector are crucial players in delivering adaptation at the local level, with potential to scale. This theme will examine innovation for adaptation – either led by or directly engaging the private sector to design and deliver adaptation solutions that work for vulnerable communities. We want to discuss innovative business models that have been successfully developed to deliver solutions locally not only in the technology space, but also in policy, governance or finance.


What are the processes for facilitating and delivering innovation for adaptation successfully within and across formal and informal sectors? Can they learn from and support each other, and if so, how? Where are we seeing new innovations emerging? Who should be financing innovation for adaptation? What partnerships are needed? How can innovation be scaled? What do adaptation actors need to understand about innovation to apply it successfully, at scale, and in support of locally led adaptation?

Power imbalances between donors, recipients and communities continue to shape climate and development approaches today, continuing long-standing, hierarchical colonial relations. Meaningful localisation continues to move at a slow pace and climate solutions do not address the structural causes of vulnerability. The Independent Panel on Climate Change has warned of ‘climate colonialism’ as a driver of vulnerability.


This thought-provoking theme will host sessions that facilitate uncomfortable but vital conversations on climate colonialism. How have we reached this point? What do colonial and decolonised approaches look like? And what is needed to decolonise adaptation in its language, policy and practice?

CBA conferences reflect our commitment to innovative and dynamic formats with an agenda that actively engages participants and promotes dialogue and interaction, challenging participants to think outside the box.

Participant-led connection is what makes CBA different. The issues discussed are crowdsourced from the attendees and the participants will design and lead different elements of the agenda. There are so many ways to participate and get involved!

It’s been three years since we’ve hosted an in-person CBA; to get a sense of what it’s like, see the agenda from CBA13 (PDF).

Thematic workshops – question assumptions

Delving deeper into the conference themes, the workshops are facilitated to encourage dialogue, debate and interaction, and avoid unidirectional presentations and panels (in particular, all-white, male 'manels'). All thematic workshops are co-hosted by at least two organisations. Expect creative and innovative formats and tools that help participants to understand the perspectives of others, seek practical solutions and consider different scenarios.

Skill-shares – learn from your peers

Skill-shares match delegates with specific skills with those seeking to acquire or strengthen their competence and knowledge. These skill-shares take place in an informal setting and we encourage participants to consider and recognise that their on-the-ground experience is valuable and of interest to others – regardless of being 'trainers' themselves.

Like the rest of the agenda, peer-to-peer skill-shares are crowdsourced and can cover any topic relating to climate adaptation. Past years have included training on topics as varied as ‘how to write better blogs’; accessing climate finance; delivering participatory monitoring, evaluation and learning; and writing funding proposals.

Our focus is on sharing: these sessions see practitioners sharing the practical tools and approaches they have been using to generate effective action. Our skill-shares let participants contribute their experiences and discuss what they have learned with their peers – people in similar contexts working on similar issues across the world.

Can you teach a skill-share? Yes! Skill-share hosts are everyday professionals and activists who want to share their passion, and the skills and experience they’ve gained through their lived experience with a community of eager learners. Your knowledge, direct experiences and stories of what has and hasn’t worked in delivering climate action are welcome!

The Dragons’ Den – develop and test a funding pitch

One of the highlights of our training offer will be the Dragons’ Den, a learning programme for would-be local climate leaders that has led former participants to establish their own projects with real local impact.

Participants work together in teams to collectively develop bids for investment and present these to a group of people with donor or investment experience. These experts (the ‘dragons’) assess the merits and viability of the pitches and provide feedback to the teams in a final, competition-style plenary session. ('Dragons' Den' is a popular TV programme in which the investors are the 'dragons'.)

In the past, the teams have been supported by our partners from Global Resilience Partnership (GRP) and IUCN NL with practical planning tools and mentoring. Ideas can be as diverse as an urban waste management project (the Dragons’ Den winner at CBA13), a community-based fund supporting women’s livelihoods (CBA14’s winner) or a project to generate biogas from waste (CBA15's winner).

Please note that the Dragons' Den does not offer prize money for winning pitches. However, we do our best to profile the winner’s organisations and connect them with like-minded individuals or organisations in our networks.

Marketplace – tools to succeed

At the CBA Marketplace participants become 'stall holders', sharing tools or approaches they have developed as well as lessons and insights from their experience (failures and successes), and set out good-practice narratives that showcase innovation and lived experience.

Applications to host a stall are now open: apply online.

Short films – be inspired

Short films are a powerful way of showing the nuances of an issue, the personal experiences of climate change or the lessons emerging from a project. CBA15 showcased a series of short videos and films that highlighted issues relevant to community-based adaptation - participants were then asked to vote for their favourite. Watch the CBA15 short films. Short films will be shown in a special session during the CBA17 conference.

Applications to submit a short film will open soon. Make sure to sign up for updates to find out as soon as we announce it.

Open space for 'burning issues and big ideas'

Discuss burning issues that haven’t been addressed elsewhere, highlight big ideas to develop with others or convene those working on a particular issue or in a geographical region. Starting from opening circles participants merge topics around overlapping interests or start new clusters; each roundtable is run by a champion with the passion to lead.

CBA endorses the law of two feet: if the conversation is not working for you, you can move on to another roundtable.

What makes the CBA conference different?

It's the only one of its kind for practitioners

The conference prioritises the lived experience, evidence and perspectives of those working directly to deliver community-based climate adaptation, including community, research and local and national government representatives. Practitioners make the programme, working together to articulate their knowledge, learning and experiences to others.

It creates evidence that informs action

Donors and large adaptation programmes come to CBA to find out directly from the practitioners what works and what doesn’t. As Nathanial Matthews, CEO of the Global Resilience Partnership (GRP), said: “CBA is a central event for GRP. It provides us with a consolidated opportunity to collaborate with community leaders and to understand adaptation issues from a wide range of perspectives that informs the best use of our resources from policy through to practice."

It puts community at the centre

CBA is the only adaptation conference that puts the lived experiences and knowledge of local people at the centre – creating a space that enables the voices of the most vulnerable to shape decisions about the future of adaptation.

When joining CBA it feels like it’s a forum where everybody can talk; we don’t only listen to experts and seniors but even the frontline workers, even people who just started their career or volunteers. Everyone has a voice here and can express their experience and questions freely.

Sushila Pandit, CBA programming co-chair

Through knowledge sharing and influencing global processes and platforms for adaptation, CBA ensures that the perspectives of people on the frontline are heard at the highest levels. The conference is a space to explore the importance and urgency of locally led adaptation and other burning issues.

Participation, networking and interaction like no other

CBA is one of the few places where practitioners can build a South-South network, strengthen their relationships and connect with like-minded practitioners and experts. The interactive sessions, open spaces for sharing skills, dedicated meeting and networking space and collegiate atmosphere brings participants together on an equal footing, regardless of their background or formal level of education.

Your voice expands and grows beyond the conference

This conference ensures that practitioner voices are heard. Previous events have been attended by delegates from a wide range of institutions including the UNFCCC, Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group, climate finance funders and LDC government ministries.

Representatives from processes that are shaping policy and practice on adaptation globally, such as the Global Commission on Adaptation or the LDC Initiative for Effective Adaptation and Resilience join CBA conferences to understand practitioner perspectives more deeply. The locally led adaptation principles have been shaped by our community of practice.

Our outreach spans continents and scales; our messages are taken to high-level platforms and global summits including the UN Secretary-General's Summit, the biodiversity and climate COPs and many others – driving real grassroots-led change.


In order to cover the costs and offer sponsorships to local practitioners from across the world CBA is a ticketed event. Find out more details.

Subsidised places

We are pleased to be able to offer a number of subsidised tickets and travel sponsorship for participants from the global South with limited resources who can bring their ‘lived experience’ of vulnerability and resilience and their experiences of working with communities to our discussions. Their voices are often missed in international policy platforms.

Subsidised tickets and travel sponsorships are available to students, representatives of community-based organisations and grassroots representatives, small NGOs and local government officials based and working in the global South, and those who do not have support from international organisations with large budgets. CBA sponsored tickets focus on stakeholders who tend to be under-represented at global events. We encourage young people and women to apply.

If you would like to apply for a sponsored ticket, please complete the application form.

Supporting sponsorships

As well as subsided tickets, we are also seeking support from interested organisations to be able to offer full sponsorships to students, representatives of community-based organisations or small NGOs based and working in the global South, with a focus on women and young people. 

If your organisation would like to support this aim, please get in touch with Teresa Sarroca at IIED via

Contact and updates

If you have any questions about the conference or about registration, please email

Sign up to receive updates on CBA and the latest news on CBA17.

About the organisers

CBA17 is organised by host partners the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Climate Justice Resilience Fund, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the Global Resilience Partnership, Practical Action, the Green Africa Youth Organisation and CARE, in collaboration with contributing partners ACTADE, Climate-KIC, ICCCAD, SDI Kenya and VSO.

If you’d like to become a CBA partner, please get in touch with Teresa Sarroca at IIED via

Host partners


For all enquiries, please contact