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FEATURE: From Quito to Kathmandu – Sharing experience on climate compatible development

CDKN and ICLEI partners gathered in Kathmandu, Nepal to exchange experiences on local and subnational climate compatible development. Keshab Thapa of LI-BIRD Nepal co-hosted the exchange – and reports here on the major themes.

Starting in Quito, Ecuador and moving to Kathmandu, Nepal, the first and second learning workshops from CDKN and ICLEI on translating learning on climate compatible development into action provided an interactive platform to synthesise learnings at subnational level. At the workshop in Quito, we identified seven questions and in Kathmandu, we shared our wisdom on these learning questions. This was an excellent opportunity to receive insights into different country experiences, in terms of socio-cultural context, political aspects, differing climate vulnerability and rural-urban issues. The workshop combined a unique approach of learning through country experiences, synthesising group learnings, field visits and reflection.

Don’t reinvent the wheel: Learning from each country’s experiences

Welcoming the participants to the workshop, Balaram Thapa, Executive Director of LI-BIRD said, “financing climate compatible development interventions is key in planning and implementation at subnational level and can be done through devising adequate strategies.” Dr. Thapa highlighted that there are opportunities for mobilising local resources (in the form of cash and in-kind contributions) and mobilising the resources from national government and development partners. He stressed that private sector engagement is least understood in climate compatible development but should be explored.

Ram Chandra Khanal of CDKN Nepal explained that evidence-based planning, backed up with regular monitoring and evaluation, is indispensable in implementing climate compatible development. Besides a good plan and financing mechanism, Mochamad Indrawan of CDKN Indonesia said that political will is equally important in implementing climate compatible development. In the Indonesian context, climate compatible development work demonstrates results where it is implemented while working with local trusted non-political actors, such as in West Nusa Tengara province.

Daniel Ryan, of FARN Argentina, discussed how climate change issues showed low levels of politicisation at city level in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo and Mexico City. He suggested that this could partly be due to the low level of public awareness on climate change as politicians investing in climate change-related agendas may get less electoral priority. However, learning from Quito, Carolina Proano Castro found that presenting evidence (of climate change impacts) played a catalytic role in attracting the attention of politicians and mayors.

Aditi Paul, of CDKN India, said her work in Uttarakhanda, India showed: “creating evidence is important but it should be enhanced through uptake and acknowledgement (of people’s contributions).” Nadia Bood from WWF Belize explained, “uptake is fast through an effective communication with politicians when both parties have trust in each other.” Besides the business-as-usual ways of communicating, Madhan Kumar from Dhan Foundation, India, found that the use of local arts and culture has been imperative in bringing sustained behavioural changes among politicians. Arpita Mandal, representing Jamaica, stressed the importance of broadcasting radio messages about climate extremes at primetime in order to reach politicians and policy-makers.

No ‘one size fits all’: Synthesising countries’ learning

Given the socio-cultural and geopolitical differences among the participating countries, the workshop concluded that strategies and approaches to climate compatible development planning implementation should be customised to the country and local context. We agreed that a blanket approach does not also work in climate compatible development i.e. “no one size fits all.” Nonetheless, we can say that we synthesised the following specific learning points as a result of the workshop:

  • Useful approaches to knowledge generation and management on climate compatible development
    • Knowledge generation has become useful through an involvement of multiple actors and the scoping of their knowledge needs in climate compatible development. Use of government information combined with local knowledge and practices worked better in the context of India and Indonesia.
  • Sharing equitable outcomes of climate compatible development
    • It is vital that the benefits of climate compatible development implementation at subnational level are shared fairly, considering the needs and interests of poor and vulnerable communities. Ensuring this can be achieved by implementing climate compatible development interventions that are moulded to the required needs of the project beneficiaries. We agreed that there is a role for grass-root organisations to represent the project beneficiaries and connect them with climate compatible development interventions.
  • Enablers of climate compatible development implementation
    • We learned that climate compatible development implementation can demonstrate clear benefits if interventions are customised to the needs and interests of the actor. Topping up existing local knowledge and practices with new knowledge and technology ensures building resilience to climate change. Political will and awareness is equally important in fostering implementation.
  • Scaling out communications, partnerships and engagement strategies for climate compatible development
    • Experiences from Latin American and the Caribbean revealed that different platforms such as websites, expert panels, subnational government-led multi-sectoral committees, communities of practices, and targeting champions (e.g. change makers) have been  effective communication and coordination tools for scaling out climate compatible development.
  • Long term viability of climate compatible development
    • Political buy-in was highlighted as an important enabler to sustain climate compatible development outcomes. This can be ensured if the climate compatible development results are integrated into policies and plans, actions and approaches are institutionalised through capacity-building and enhanced technical level learning, and information management systems are improved.

Gaining new perspectives: Learning from the field

At the event, a learning tour to two sites provided a breakthrough for the participants’ understanding and experiences. The first site was a technology demonstration park for mountain ecosystems, and the second site was rooftop vegetable production in an urban setting:

  • Essential intermediaries for implementation and scaling-out
    • The field visit to the ‘ICIMOD Knowledge Park’ at Godavari, Lalitpur, Nepal provided an insight into the role of the centre in scaling up and expanding climate compatible development interventions. The park demonstrated a wide variety of technologies suitable for mountain ecosystems, serving as a ‘supermarket’ of technologies for mountain farmers and different actors (government, non-government and community institutions) could learn from. Such knowledge and technology platforms are critical to promoting climate compatible development interventions to target groups. Learning this, we realised the significance of governmental commitments in establishing knowledge platforms for scaling out climate compatible development. Witnessing the role of ICIMOD, we enthused that an ‘intermediary’ role is essential for brokering knowledge, interventions and processes.
  • Integrating disaster risk reduction into climate compatible development makes sense for urban resilience
    • From our interaction with a household in the Chamati area of Dallu, Kathmandu, we noticed that urban rooftop vegetable gardening has led to self-sufficiency in vegetable consumption, management of decomposable household waste, easy access to diverse nutrition, and safe vegetables. Out of around 75 households practicing rooftop vegetable gardening, however, only 10 households have continued the gardening after the 2015 Nepal earthquake due to the fear of earthquake damage. For example, Kamala Shrestha, who was a leading farmer of the area and won the first prize among the 75 households practicing rooftop vegetable gardening, has now compromised with a few vegetable buckets in her house. From our observation, integrating a disaster risk reduction approach in climate compatible development could ensure long-term sustainability of interventions. This approach should be enhanced through by sensitising politicians – to ensure effective implementation.

Further reading:

The workshop was a part of the CDKN and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability learning programme on subnational climate compatible development. Find out more about the programme here:

Image: credit Bioversity (Nepal)

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