Climate Change through the Eyes of an Asian Farmer

by Jorge Alvar-Beltrán and José María Chozas Plasencia
(Madrid, Spain)

Two Spanish friends will immerse into the heart of rural Asia along more than 17,000 km to better understand the effects of climate change and raise the voice of farmers who need help adapting to this serious issue.

Chapter I: The Farmer

One of the less visible facets of climate change is how farmers live and fight forthcoming extreme meteorological events such as floods, prolonged droughts or typhoons, all of them taking place with increased intensity and frequency, following predictable patterns.

This is the case for a number of smallholder farmers in Southeast Asia: the lack of economic resources places them in a situation of remarkable vulnerability when facing the intensification of extreme weather events.

However, adaptation strategies in developing countries are to a big extent elaborated with no input from this socioeconomic group. In the end, the weak bonds between farmers, policymakers, scientific community and private sector result in the implementation of ineffective adaptation policies, leaving farmers in the need to adapt by themselves with little external help.

Chapter II: A Trip towards the Farmer

In order to personally get in touch with the situation and necessities of this collective, Jorge Alvar and Pepe Chozas, friends, researchers and adventure’s advocates, decided to stuff their back-packs. On their horizon: a 3-month journey and more than 17,000 kilometers towards the unknown.

Starting in March, they will travel through India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and China to understand the way smallholder farmers perceive the intensification of extreme weather events among those countries.

They will try to better understand the problems emerging from this intensification and will examine farmers' necessities to adapt to this new situation. The results of this research will be spread through the scientific and academic communities and, whenever possible, transferred to political authorities of those countries.

The final objective is to strengthen the connection between farmers and politicians in order to promote the implementation of policies that are able to help farmers to adapt to climate change in an effective way.

Chapter III: Our Project

This project arose in 2014 when Jorge conducted his master’s research project in Chile. In June and July he did a profound analysis of the ways farmers’ perceive climate change in two climatologically contrasted regions of Chile (Maule wet and Coquimbo dry).

He concluded that adaptation strategies need to consider farmers’ concerns and must be complemented with empirical data in order to achieve effective solutions.

The emerging findings of his research are highlighted on a paper entitled "Climate Change in Chile: climate trends and farmers perceptions." With the conclusions brought up in this paper, after months of discussion, both friends decided to extend the research to other needful areas, pushing together their professional development and live interests with their love for travelling and desire for adventure.

Chapter IV: Jorge and Pepe: Passion for Travelling and Thirst for Adventure

Jorge Alvar-Beltrán is a 24 year-old researcher on environmental and health issues. After finishing an undergraduate degree on Geography and Land Management in Spain, internship at the World Meteorological Organization-UN and masters on Sustainability and Climate Change in the UK, he became a researcher for Universidad de Antioquia, Colombia. During 2015, he has mapped several tropical diseases and he is currently working in an early warning system to fight vector borne diseases in the Amazon River.

José Chozas (Pepe) studied law and political science in Spain and spent a year in the University of Kent, UK, focusing on public policy studies of the EU, China and Japan.

He is currently working at the Fundación Biodiversidad, a Spanish foundation attached to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment mainly dedicated to coordinating public and private action around environmental issues and to fostering social awareness at both national and international levels.

Together they have traveled Europe’s main capitals and suffered weather’s rage in mountains they haven’t always been able to climb.

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