Hasse Goosen from Alterra has created an interactive Delta Atlas bringing into focus the various delta-related problems in Bangladesh. The Atlas is meant in particular to raise awareness, being the first step in a solution-oriented process of achieving a safer Bangladesh.
Bangladesh, like the Netherlands, needs to keep its head above water in a dynamic delta area. The effects of climate change will make these challenges even greater in the future. The Netherlands already has a Delta Programme to prepare for these challenges. Last year, Bangladesh joined forces with the Netherlands in order to set up a Delta Plan for Bangladesh. This plan will provide solutions for the current problems but will also anticipate what might happen in the future. A practical, visionary and sustainable plan, in which Hasse Goosen and Bertram de Rooij from Alterra are playing an active role, together with the Climate Adaptation Services foundation. Hasse Goosen has started by making an interactive Delta Atlas to increase awareness and to present complex issues in a practical and accessible way.
“I believe its greatest value is making information available about various factors and the changes over time,” Bertram de Rooij said. “In this way we can shed light on the uncertain consequences of climate change.” The Delta Atlas forms part of the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 (BDP 2100) project, which focuses on considering delta-related problems in Bangladesh in the long-term. The Atlas will allow long-term effects to be detailed. As the Atlas is interactive, a number of variables such as altitude, population composition and drought can be added to create a clear picture of the situation.
Of use to society
To ensure the Delta Atlas is of practical use to all layers of the population of Bangladesh, three components have been given extra attention. First of all, the Atlas should be accessible for everyone, so both policymakers and local farmers should be able to understand and use it. Secondly, the Atlas is interactive and multi-layered. This is vital in Bangladesh where everything is linked with everything else: farmers not only work the land, they catch fish too. The interactivity of the Atlas enables a farmer to place all the aspects that are relevant for him one on top of the other. In that way he obtains a complete picture of his own situation. Only then is it possible to react adequately to the situation. Thirdly, you can add a time factor to the Atlas. By means of the BDP 2100, Bangladesh hopes to find long-term solutions to the country’s delta-related problems. For the right choices to be made, it is useful to demonstrate what can happen in situations A, B, C or D in 10 or 25 years’ time. As a result, people will become aware of the need to work on solutions. The Atlas forms the basis of the Delta Ateliers, the next step in the BDP 2100 process.
The Delta Ateliers play an important role in discovering workable strategies for the future Delta Plan. These ateliers are creative and interactive meetings where people can begin a dialogue on current problems and opportunities for solving them. The ateliers are also the place to validate the situations that have been mapped out; information in the Atlas is checked to see if it really does correspond to what people in that area are experiencing. This Atlas and the accompanying dialogue help people attending the ateliers to arrive at potential solutions. The layered nature of the Atlas is instrumental in achieving this. These solutions are then worked up into real options that become available to policymakers in Bangladesh. The ateliers are held at a national level and also in five characteristic and distinctive regions of Bangladesh, making clear what the generic strategies should be and which specific measures may be required.
From information to inspiration
The Delta Atlas is meant to provide food for thought, and the time component and its interactivity make a particularly useful contribution in that respect. “We’ve noticed that people are deriving a lot of inspiration from the Atlas project”. This type of atlas can in fact be applied in other situations as well. It is already being used, for example, to map out the Haaglanden region in the Netherlands. More information on this is available on the website of the Climate Adaptation Services foundation.