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OPINION: Learning and Leading on LEDS workshop – one year on

CDKN’s Ari Huhtala and Caroline Spencer reflect on how far the Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS) Global Partnership has evolved  in the past year, as they return from the Partnership’s meeting in Thailand.

A lot can happen in a year – as we discovered on connecting with old and new friends in the LEDS Global Partnership. The Partnership provides a forum for governments, practitioners, donors and multilateral organisations to promote cooperation on LEDS initiatives and activities and exchange best practices. At the 26-28 February Learning and Leading on LEDS workshop, members from more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean gathered to share knowledge.  The approach was ‘sleeves rolled up’ so we were hard at work using interactive techniques such as World Cafe, open space and market place.

The group had come many miles – figuratively speaking – since the first LEDS Global Partnership workshop, which took place near London, UK one year ago.  Since that pioneering global gathering, the work programme has evolved to include a number of sectoral working groups and three regional platforms: the Asia LEDS Partnership, the Latin America and Caribbean LEDS Partnership and the African Climate and Development Society. Each has fostered a vibrant community of practice that is generating a growing number of outputs.

There were also many newcomers to the scene. One of them admitted that he had arrived feeling somewhat ‘half-hearted’, but at the end of the three days left with ‘high hopes’ and ready to take action.

The discussions clearly revealed that different countries and sub-regions face different challenges. In Asia, better coordination of LEDS activities and more LEDS financing is needed. In Latin America and the Caribbean, there is less need for mainstreaming LEDS into overall development strategies, however, a stronger, common understanding is required on how LEDS goes beyond mitigation to resilience and adaptation issues, and LEDS needs to be more clearly communicated across the board. In Africa, more information and knowledge on LEDS is needed, particularly on financing for LEDS processes.  One message was very clear, for the LEDS Global Partnership and its regional, sister networks: the future of successful LEDS implementation is “in our hands”.

Discussions galvanised particularly around the following issues:

Visionary leadership is often the element that leads LEDS from being a good idea to a ‘game changer’. Rwanda, Mexico and Indonesia were all discussed as examples of innovation where high level leadership proved pivotal.

Countries which are similar in size and economic and environmental challenges should share lessons, and they may be in completely different regions: for instance, Costa Rica and Nepal have as much to share about developing their LEDS processes, as do regional neighbours.

We should leverage the ‘human capital’ on LEDS and support prolonged learning and information sharing through secondments and job swaps. Furthermore, open sharing of data can make a key contribution to LEDS. Involving the private sector is an essential part of LEDS solutions.

Some of the challenges the group tackled included: How to embed LEDS-related knowledge throughout our institutions and governments? How to integrate climate resilience more firmly into the LEDS debate? How to improve the LEDS dialogue between subnational and national entities? How to embed poverty eradication into the heart of LEDS processes and how to define better corresponding indicators for this? How to support LEDS processes during leadership transitions? How to effectively engage with ministries other than environment – as LEDS should not be a ‘foreign language’ to different ministries (especially the ministry of finance) or different sectors?

We noted that the LEDS GP is a ‘community of heroes’ but we still have ‘mountains to climb’. One key challenges set for 2013 is to ensure that the LEDS Global Partnership and the regional platforms go further and spread wider. We need tell the LEDS change narrative in a more compelling way. We need to assess the impacts of LEDS more effectively. We need to be truly global, and incorporate South-South, South-North and North-North learning and collaboration on LEDS. We also realised, now more than ever , the importance of how we learn and the need for innovative approaches. The Learning and Leading on LEDS workshop showed how this type of learning is facilitating accelerated action and innovation on LEDS.

Visit the CDKN website and the LEDS GP website to see how we are progressing on these tasks and to join the LEDS Global Partnership.

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