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FEATURE: CDKN celebrates its first anniversary during Climate Week

The Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) is celebrating its first birthday, and can reflect on a great start in helping developing country governments design and deliver ‘climate compatible development’. 21 March also sees the beginning of Climate Week, which brings together people to make a difference on climate change throughout the UK. Like Climate Week, CDKN’s mission is to support innovative ways to tackle climate change, and we’ve been working hard over the last year to make a difference throughout the world.

CDKN has established a portfolio of nearly 100 projects across 30 countries managed out of our regional offices in Ecuador (FFLA), Pakistan (Lead Pakistan) and South Africa (SSN), as well as the global hub (PwC, ODI, INTRAC and Lead International) in the UK. These regional teams have responded to governments’ requests to develop climate change strategies, and to boost their capacity in influencing global climate talks.

Support for climate change strategies

An early project involved technical assistance to the Government of Ghana to prepare its national climate change policy framework.  Similarly, in Rwanda, the Government has requested CDKN’s support for a national climate change strategy for which we have produced a comprehensive baseline report.

On the other side of the globe, CDKN is working with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre to translate the region’s climate strategy into an Implementation Plan. This plan will be presented to Ministers for approval in July 2011.

Strengthening Southern voices

CDKN also strengthens developing country governments’ voices in international talks. CDKN has deployed experts to brief the Government of Pakistan’s delegation on key issues around vulnerability and adaptation, climate finance and technology transfer in the run-up to UNFCCC CoP16 in Mexico.  The project review shows how this support improved the coherence of the national position, built support at home through increased media hits, and raised the profile of Pakistan in the negotiations.

Enriching debate, sparking innovation

Enriching public debate about climate compatible development is a key pillar of CDKN’s work – we want to help agencies and grassroots groups to share the successes, challenges and trade-offs of programmes that seek to minimise the harm caused by climate impacts, while maximising the many human development opportunities presented by the transition to a low-emissions, resilient future.  CDKN supports informed media coverage of climate and development issues, through work with IPS and Thomson Reuters, and the  Climate Change Media Partnership.  We publish timely analysis of our own, such as our series on the implications of the UN High Level Advisory Group on Finance (AGF) Report for developing regions. CDKN also supports opportunities for face-to-face exchange, as in our recent support for the Africa Adapt Symposium in Addis Ababa, the Building Resilience Conference in Kuala Lumpur and side events at CoP16.

Climate and development research – for better policies

Commissioning original research on climate compatible development themes will form a major part of our work in the coming years. CDKN launched its first pilot research call early in 2011 and plans to advertise its first major global research call mid-year.  Meanwhile, we are collaborating with Sumernet to support a research call in Southeast Asia, and we will partner with other organisations to fund research in Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa.

Looking ahead

CDKN’s second year will see greater strategic focus as well as considerable scaling up of activities as CDKN expands and deepens relationships with developing country leaders and fosters further research and learning.    We will focus on communicating results and demonstrating impact but, because we are demand-led – set up to respond to requests for support from developing country governments – I cannot predict exactly which new partnerships and opportunities the year will bring. The scale and urgency of the challenge is huge. But CDKN will continue to assist those countries that need it most to improve their access to climate finance mechanisms, and reinforce their strategies for climate compatible development.

Happy Birthday, CDKN, and here’s to another fine year ahead!

Image: Growing maize in Rwanda, courtesy of N. Palmer, CIAT

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