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FEATURE: Government ‘community of practice’ on mainstreaming adaptation

In a series of articles from the recent CBA conference, Mousumi Pervin, Government of Bangladesh profiles the work and value of a group of government officials building knowledge on mainstreaming adaptation

Climate Change is a global problem which needs a global solution, but its impact is felt within individual households and communities. Adaptation to the impacts of climate change therefore needs to be rooted at this local level. Recognising this, Government officials from Asia and Africa have formed a group to share and exchange knowledge and information among themselves regarding climate change, particularly on community-based adaption (CBA). The Government Group Network for Climate Change Mainstreaming is a community of practice of Government officials working on climate change planning and budgeting at both national and local levels.

The group started its journey in November 2011 with the mission to mainstream climate change into countries’ national/local/sectoral development plans, projects and programmes. The initiative started with 8 member countries, and to date has spread to 15 counties (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Laos, Myanmar, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Rwanda, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda and Zanzibar). The growth of the group indicates the increased awareness of Governments that climate change is a critical issue and that interactions across countries is a positive thing. The group has been moving forward with three objectives:

  1. Create a platform to share  knowledge and experience
  2. Promote  networking among group members who face common development challenges for  sustainable  development
  3. Communication and knowledge dissemination

We have a virtual platform through a Google Group, where we can exchange and share ideas.  It includes sharing of explicit and tacit knowledge, good practices, lessons learned and some cross cutting issues. The virtual platform provides space for members to discuss issues, thereby fostering informal networks. Moreover, the group shares experiences via social media like Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs etc. at least on a monthly basis. It constitutes an important intangible asset for creating and sustaining interest in and action on mainstreaming climate change. 

The group also meets up in person as much as possible. Write-shops have been used to produce knowledge material for policy-makers and wider stakeholders at a national and global level. Last year, the group co-created a report which presents a framework for mainstreaming climate resilience into development planning. Four briefing notes also present the country perspective from Cambodia, Bangladesh, Kenya and the Gambia.

Our annual meeting is also an opportunity to showcase best practices as well as allow informal interactions among members. This networking within the group is probably the most powerful form of promoting collaboration and collective learning. These relationships tie the members together for a common interest.  We now have a better understanding of how each country is addressing climate change, and we know who to ask for advice for our common challenges.

For the last few years we have participated as a group in the annual CBA conference. This has been an excellent way of keeping up to date with the latest research and practice on adaptation at the latest level. Our participation has also meant that the Government perspective is heard and that NGOs and researchers work with us to consider how wider mainstreaming of CBA and adaptation in general can work. This year I participated in a session on ‘securing finance by mainstreaming adaptation into national development planning’ and presented a new document soon to be released by the group on trends relating to financing a transition to a ‘climate resilient green economy’.

On the side-lines of the conference, the group met in order to set our strategy for 2014-2015. We are proud that 45 members from industrialised and developing countries participated very actively. Ms. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC joined us and gave valuable advice on how to maintain the enthusiasm of the group on our future priorities. She appreciated the female leadership of the group, and the involvement of countries from very different levels of development and industrialization. She also highlighted that the group has a cross-sector approach with members from Ministries and departments of planning, finance, water, agriculture, environment, forests and disaster management.

Ms Figueres emphasised that the group should established a link with the global negotiations to create synergies among global, national and local challenges faced by the countries due to environment degradation and climate change. This was an important suggestion as previously the group was focused only on the national context and planning process. However, after the meeting we pledged to work within the global arena where different negotiations are going on. Moreover, we are keen to continue and expand further the network with the industrialized nations. All countries have much to learn from each other.

The group left the conference motivated and prepared for new research and action to increase our own understanding on linking adaptation to climate change at the local level, with national policies and plans as well as the global regime.

Mousumi Pervin is a Training, Knowledge Management and Communication Expert for the UN Development Programme and a Capacity Building Analyst, CDMP II, Government of Bangladesh. Mousumi has devoted her career to bringing about tangible results for sustainable development and to help improve livelihood opportunities for destitute people in Bangladesh.

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