‘Exciting’, ‘responsibility’, ‘anxiety’, ‘concern’, ‘collaboration’, ‘equity’, ‘conservation of resources’, ‘helplessness’
These are just some of the words used to describe the climate games during the IFAD Global Staff Meeting (GSM). The Environment and Climate Division (ECD), with help from the Red Cross Climate Center (RCCC), organised two successive days of climate games. The games are normally used to support capacity building at inception workshops of projects for the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP). In this case the same games were played at IFAD HQ at the GSM. Climate Games create a simulation of reality whereby the players experience the daily anxiety faced by smallholder farmers because of increasing climate-related disasters. Using dice to signify climate threats, and beans to signify currency, participants have to decide what to invest their capital in - ‘normal’ development versus drought or flood protection. This all happens within one game, which simulates three decades of farming through the seasons.
The games aim to highlight the similarities with real world climate change: being faced with a situation in which you do not have control and you are not prepared. And being dependant on the unpredictable generates anxiety
In partnership with RCCC, the games support the inception and capacity building of project implementation units and government officials through innovative learning approaches. Over 20 people attended per session and played a game called 'paying for predictions'. The game, an innovative and fun learning experience was thoroughly enjoyed by participants. At the end of the session participants were asked to say which kind of emotions did they feel and what were the ‘revelations’ they got in terms of their real life work.
Throughout the sessions, we saw that people having access to early warning systems (in the form of transparent cups) and disaster risk reduction measures (in the form of green post its) felt much less anxiety.
These kinds of tools and innovations are happening in the real world – a programme such as IFAD's ASAP helps farmers and communities around the world to get more disaster risk reduction and early warning systems, thus reducing that level of ‘helplessness’ generated by the loss of all resources to be invested in protection from climate related events.