FEATURE: In conversation… with Alison Cambray, CDKN Head of Technical Assistance
Simon Maxwell: Ali you’re running the technical assistance and advisory function for the Climate and Development Knowledge work. Now of course we’re not in business to take UK expertise and transfer it to developing countries? But we are providing support to decision makers as they grapple with these problems, isn’t there a risk that as we do this we’re going to be parachuting in experts from around the world to countries, which are not their own, that they don’t know very well and then they fly out again and we don’t leave anything long term behind?
Alison Cambray: We’re very much trying to move away from that kind of approach – in two main ways. The first one is the principal of demand led services. We’re going to be very much working with decision makers, institutions and other civic actors in those countries, and stakeholders to really get to grips with what are the real issues and what are the real priorities. The second point is that we are not in the market really for just doing one off individual short projects going in and then leaving. A key plank of how we design the services with the decision makers in those countries is to make sure that we really underpin the whole project process with developing institutional capacity, training, awareness, products, decision making tools, support systems to make sure that we leave a legacy of a set of decision makers much more comfortable with taking decisions that are aligned with climate compatible development.
Simon: That’s really interesting because I’ve been talking of course to the Regional Directors as well, and one of the dangers that we see is that the work that we do and the governments do, ends up as a piece of paper on a shelf. And I imagine that you don’t think of our climate compatible development exercise as being about producing a plan it’s about more than that isn’t it?
Ali: Yeah it’s about making it happen. The kind of thought process that we would seek to go through with decision made in those countries is to really go through a reasonably methodical approach, starting off with what’s the current vision for growth and development in that country and putting that climate change lens across it. Secondly making sure that they’ve got the appropriate evidence there, to take evidence based decisions, and then move through developing the institutional capacity, understanding and awareness right the way through governments. There’s lots of global finance out there, how can we make sure that particular countries are going to be well prepared to put a good case forward for getting that finance and actually moving that forward into delivery, and then following that up again with that institutional capacity so it’s absolutely not any sort of assistance that would sit as a strategy on a shelf.
Simon: Now what’s important for us, I think, as you’ve said is to have a real commitment and really long term engagement with countries and I know we’ve started work in a few places: Any of those especially exciting for you?
Ali: We have been asked by the Rwandan Government to develop a really sort of cross cutting low carbon and climate resilient growth plan and to start off by doing that as a framework. They want something quite quickly, to be able to inform some upcoming investment decisions and to integrate with their poverty reduction plans which need to be refreshed in the next few, six to nine months or so, but beyond that using that as a framework for further stakeholder engagements.
Simon: Now jump forward five years and look back, what will make you really happy about the work that we will have done together in the Climate and Development Knowledge Network?
Ali: I think the main thing for me and for the technical assistance programme over five years is that we can look back and say that in the countries that we have engaged with, we have engaged strategically, we have engaged in a way that has built capacity, where we have shared knowledge and learnt, and you know built up that learning network between different countries, and most importantly where we have feedback from the decision makers that we have been working with that they have been able to take decisions around climate compatible development with confidence as a result of our interventions.
Simon: Ali you’ve taken on job linking together these different instruments is going to be an exciting challenge we wish you all success, thank you very much.
Ali: Thank you.