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Building the future with climate change and development professionals: CDKN capacity building

Project Reference: RSGL-0017

At the CDKN partnership-creating Action Lab event of March 2011, held in Oxford, Masters students attending were given the opportunity to submit a proposal for funding for summer dissertation fieldwork. They identified hosts and mentors from among the Action Lab meeting attendees. A total of 14 Masters students were awarded financial assistance from CDKN for fieldwork, and in turn also provided valuable work assistance to their host organisations.

On their return from fieldwork, the students received training in academic journal and policy brief writing from Oxford University and the Overseas Development Institute. They then produced submissions to academic journals and concise briefing notes for policy makers. The best of the resulting briefing notes are published below, and we are delighted that several of the students have gone on to do further work for these organisations or to use their experience as a basis for follow up PhDs.

The students have taken forward a range of their own interests under the banner of climate compatible development, including household energy, ecosystems services, resilience and community based adaptation, biomass, mangroves and REDD+, adaptive governance and institutional analyses.

Briefing notes produced for the Notes from the field series are:

  • Robust Food systems: how can early warning and emergency preparedness measures reduce vulnerability to environmental change?
    (Meghan Bailey)
  • The Potential for Emissions Intensity and Technology Penetration Metrics in CO2 Mitigation and Poverty Reduction: Case Studies of Sector Approaches, Agreements and Measures (SAAMs) in China and India
    (Andrew Bilski)
  • Bringing Biochar to Market: An Impact Assessment & Life Cycle Analysis
    (Abbie Clare)
  • Environmental Performance Rating and Disclosure Programmes: An Effective Tool for Promoting Climate and Environmental Management in Africa?
    (Adwoa Darko-Mensah)
  • Linking community well-being, climate compatible development and a Payment for Ecosystems Services (PES) pathway: Insights from Madagascar
    (Deon Louw), Download the PDF
  • Sustainable wood-biomass energy systems: climate and development solutions for forest communities (Alaska)
    (Munish Sikka), Download the PDF
  • Climate risk management and livelihood adaptation in the urban periphery: Lessons from East Africa
    (Jessica Thorn)
  • Adaptive Governance of water resources in the Brazilian Sertao
    (Lenora Zoninsein)

In addition to the thesis papers, journal articles and briefing papers produced by the students, some of this research has been taken up by other publications and in the media, or presented at key conferences. For example, Inka Schomer’s work was featured in an article by South African magazine 25 Degrees and her paper has now been published in the academic journal Climate and Development. Munish Sikka’s research has been published in the academic journal Ecology and Society. Abrar Chaudhury and Caitlin Corner-Dolloff have jointly published a CCAFS Working Paper on Community-Based Adaptation Costing, and their work was covered by blogs on the AMKN and New Agriculturalist websites and by the Guardian in their Global Development pages: Kenyan farmers share their priorities in life – in pictures. Caitlin is now leading a CDKN funded project on adaptation planning and costing in the Mekong region – A new perspective on adaptation prioritisation and costing in the Mekong region. In addition Lesley King, now a consultant with LTS International has presented her work at the East African Forum for Payments for Ecosystem Services and the Reef Conservation UK conference.

According to Tom Thornton, course director for MSc in Environmental Change and Management, “the programme enabled student researchers to carry out substantial and impactful dissertation projects in settings where it may not have been affordable or practical to work otherwise. By providing funding and in many cases in-country expertise and logistical support, the MSc award facilitated important action research and development of expert networks that otherwise would not have been possible. The benefits of the programme are also evident in student performance and post-Oxford trajectories. Most of the students have found subsequent career opportunities, either through DPhils studentships or other work, to continue working on some aspect of their research or in presenting and implementing the results.”

CDKN would particularly like to thank the host organisations and mentors involved who so generously gave their time to orient and assist the students:

Youcef Ait-Chellouche, UN ISDR
Jason Aramburu, re:char
Alex Awiti, Aga Khan University, Kenya
Thais Corral, Adapta Sertão and LEAD Brazil
Chris Gordon, University of Ghana
Adam Harvey, JPMorgan ClimateCare
Claudia Martínez, E3
Winfred Nelson, Africa Adaptation Programme/ Environmental Protection Agency Ghana
Jon Price, Climate Strategies
Simon Shackley, University of Edinburgh
Pablo Suarez and Maarten van Aalst, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre
Steve Thorn and Carl Wesselink, South South North
Laura Williamson, HELIO International

Project Manager: Amy Kirbyshire

CDKN Funding: £43,600


Main photo courtesy of Neil Palmer (CIAT)

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