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FEATURE: In conversation… with Tim Ash Vie, CDKN Head of Operations


Simon Maxwell: Tim you’re the Director of Operations of the Climate and Development Knowledge Network, running a global operation with activities in three continents plus Europe because we’re based in the UK; how do you manage that extraordinarily geographic reach of what we’re trying to do?

Tim Ash Vie: I think it’s about understanding that space around turning knowledge and understanding of climate change and development issues into practical policies that can be implemented into action plans and delivery on the ground.

Simon: Now I’ve been talking to people who are running regional programmes, your perspective is global, an interesting challenge for us will be to connect us across these various regions. How do we do that?

Tim: Well I think it’s both the need to connect up between the regions, it’s understanding what we’re doing in Africa that is relevant in another region, within Asia or Latin America or the Caribbean, but it is also about understanding the differences between them, the differences between operating in Sub-Saharan Africa, in South African, for us operating in middle income countries in Latin America, different context, different opportunities and we’ve got to understand that, but we’ve also got to remain coherent and that’s what we’re thinking about in terms of our unifying theme, which is conversion of knowledge into policy and action.

Simon: In all these different fields of operation we have whether it’s research or advisory services or knowledge management or partnership do you see scope for people from Latin America working Asia and vice versa?

Tim: Absolutely and I think that’s the energy that we bring to it, it’s the energy that we hold within the centre of what we do. It’s the interaction between Stef Raubenheimer, in Cape Town and Yolanda Kakabadse in Quito. It’s the sharing of the knowledge and the experience that they have, within their own geographies, within their own countries, within their own regions and also globally.

Simon: Now I’ve been talking to the Chief Executive about the difficulty of doing two things simultaneously. One is building the systems and the procedures we need and finding the right people to work in different place, and the other is being up and running quickly and showing real results on the ground as quickly as we can. Paul has described that as being like building a car while at the same time trying to drive it around the road; you’re actually at the sharp end of that how’s it been, how’s it feel, what happens next?

Tim: If we sit back for too long then we fail to engage with the people who we most want to help with, and very important to us was within the first three months that we should be deploying onto the ground, spending the time with countries, talking to ministers as we have been with Rwanda and Ghana to understand how it is that we can best deploy the resources that we have at our disposal for their benefit.

Simon: And something else that I think you’ve been doing which is an important part of our philosophy as well as our practice is to push the decision making downwards and to decentralise to Africa and Latin America and Asia?

Tim: Absolutely. We’re not following a blueprint here, we’re… it is all about that process of exploration, the journey and that has to be done at the country level, and by the people that we have that are operating in the regions,

Simon: Now let’s look ahead five years, and stand there five years time looking back at what we’ve managed to deliver. What are your hopes? What will constitute success from your perspective?

Tim: Probably the most important thing for me is that we should leave an enduring legacy and that that means that we make a difference to the lives of the poorest people in developing countries, to their lives and their livelihoods and that the development plans of the countries where they live should not be disrupted by climate change in the years to come.

Simon: Tim this is a big operation and a very difficult car to build and drive at the same time so good luck with it.

Tim: Thank you.

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