Engaging national institutions for long term sustainability of adaptation interventions
The 2015 UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) held in Paris, saw the emergence of capacity building, perhaps for the very first time, as a key topic of discourse in international climate change negotiations. Article 11 of the Paris Agreement recognized the critical importance of capacity building and climate education for effective implementation of climate actions. The Paris Committee on Capacity Building (PCCB) was established in the aftermath of COP21 which further emphasized the need for long-term and sustainable capacity building.
It is being increasingly recognized that investing in national systems, as opposed to flying in foreign consultants would be vital for facilitating a paradigm shift towards long-term, locally-driven capacity development. We discuss here about a university based south-south initiative that is intended to deliver such capacity development.
Experts argue that climate change adaptation projects should really be about enhancing resilience of target communities and their partners to withstand shocks of climate change in the long term, probably when the funder and implementers are long gone. Unfortunately, adaptation projects currently lack considerations for long-term sustainability of implemented interventions beyond project period.
To accomplish long-term sustainability of adaptation interventions, eminent climate scientist Dr. Saleemul Huq has proposed the concept of engaging “legacy partners” into project design, referring to national institutions that would be responsible implementing a sustainability plan. One of the three tiers of legacy partners would be what he referred to as “knowledge partners”—the role of whom would not only be to generate new knowledge, but also to ensure that knowledge is put into practice and capture learning from implementation, thereby drive a learning-by-doing process for adaptation.
Universities are best suited for this role. Regardless of their location, universities are globally celebrated as hubs of innovation and learning, and they happen to be some of the most sustainable institutions around. University-based researchers, educators as well as students are already actively engaged in the production, communication and learning of climate knowledge and skills. Universities, therefore, are vital agents for delivering long-term climate capacity building programmes.
In view of the above, the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) based at Independent University, Bangladesh and the Makerere University, Uganda, took the initiative to establish the LDC Universities’ Consortium on Climate Change (LUCCC)—a South-South collaborative network of 10 Universities from least developed countries (LDC) across Asia and Africa. LUCCC’s vision is to enhance capacity on climate change in all 47 LDCs through education, research and training to enable them to adapt effectively to the adverse impacts of climate change.
Since its inception, LUCCC has established a university-based exchange programme for climate change researchers, and several partners are now jointly implementing climate adaptation research projects. LUCCC is now recognized as one of three long-term initiatives of the LDC Group on climate change- a network of 47 LDC countries who negotiate as a bloc at the intergovernmental negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change sessions. LUCCC members are also collaborating with other long-term initiatives of the LDC groups and are contributing to the vision of the LDC group going forward to 2050.
In addition to capacity building, successful adaptation also calls for robust approaches to monitoring, evaluation and adaptation (MEL) of adaptation actions. LDCs would need domestic capacity to develop and implement adaptation MEL systems that are aligned with development policy and programming.
LUCCC members therefore need to position themselves to be recognized as organizations competent in gender responsive adaptation MEL. To spearhead the process, LUCCC has recently initiated a sub-group on adaptation MEL called the LUCCC Adaptation Learning Group (LALG). The overarching aim is to contribute towards establishing national MEL systems, cognizant of global adaptation goals and gender-sensitivity.
The inaugural meeting of the LALG was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this April against the backdrop of the 13th International Conference on Community Based Adaptation (CBA13) which was attended by representatives from eight LUCCC member countries. The meeting established a preliminary work programme for the LALG. Going ahead, the group intends to collaborate on developing a set of training materials and guidebooks on the topic, for different tiers of professionals and academics. The possibility of integrating modules on adaptation MEL into secondary and post-secondary programmes in relevant disciplines would also be explored.
These, in combination, are likely to address existing gaps in capacity and over time help establish national adaptation MEL communities of practice within government agencies, academic institutions as well as community-based organizations.
Capacity building as has been argued throughout this article is a central determinant of how effectively LDCs adapt to climate change. Universities in the LDCs should be a central partner in resolving the wicked challenge of climate change.
By envisioning partnerships among the LDC Universities LUCCC has provided a necessary platform for these universities to share their respective expertise and create a pool of southern experiences and knowledge on adaptation. The initiative being at its infancy certainly will need appropriate support to grow and at same time LUCCC partners must remain dedicated to the long-term vision of ensuring effective adaptation in LDCs.
Riadadh Hossain is a researcher at the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), primarily working on climate finance and tracking and measurement of adaptation interventions.
Feisal Rahman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Science at IUB and coordinates ICCCAD’s research programme.