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PROJECT: Strengthening evidence-based policy

This project aimed to strengthen the ability of the Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA) to carry out evidence-based policy advocacy and engage in dialogue with policy-makers. CANSA is a network of 80 civil society organisations (CSOs) working on climate change issues in South Asia, and is the primary platform for stakeholder coordination and collaboration.

The project built on an EU-funded project already underway, which aimed to strengthen CANSA’s ability to operate as an effective knowlegde broker through capacity-building sessions with stakeholders and grants for research projects. The CDKN initiative has added a specific component that has supported CANSA’s ability to interact with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

CDKN assisted CANSA throughout the process of developing a roadmap for the implementation of the SAARC 2010 Thimphu Climate Change Statement and has helped CANSA engage with policy-makers to ensure this roadmap is used by SAARC.

By bringing together policy-makers and CSOS, the project built a strengthened relationship between the two groups. This has encouraged policy-making within SAARC to be more evidenced-based, participatory and effective.

Update: CANSA consultation on SAARC Thimphu Statement on climate change

The first activity of CDKN’s project to strengthen Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA’s) capacity to engage with SAARC and carry out policy-focused advocacy took place in Kathmandu, Nepal on 1-2 August, 2011. Representatives from all CANSA member countries met for a regional consultation to see how they could support SAARC to implement its commitments on climate change, contained in the 2010 Thimphu Statement. Hon. Sunil Manandhar, the Nepalese Minister of Environment opened the workshop by urging CANSA to highlight the ‘citizens’ agenda’ to SAARC, and identify bottlenecks in the implementation of the Thimphu Statement. The SAARC secretariat also welcomed CANSA’s interest in the Statement, and looked forward to constructive collaboration.

Two days of intense brainstorming, discussion and debate followed. The members broke into 6 working groups to deal with each of the themes of the Thimphu Statement: Agriculture, Disasters, Energy, Trade, Mountains and Knowledge Management. The groups assessed the progress that had been made on implementing the commitments to date, and the concrete actions that SAARC and its stakeholders can take to move things forward. The result was an initial list of recommendations. Members and the CANSA secretariat then turned this into a policy document which was presented to SAARC at the dialogue events both in the lead-up to and at the SAARC Summit in November, 2011.

This was just the start of the long road to building trust and a working relationship between CANSA and SAARC. However, the initial signs are positive, and it’s clear that both sides are open and committed to sharing knowledge and expertise for the benefit of regional cooperation.

Voices from CANSA

‘Home to more than 1.6 billion people, South Asia faces the dual challenge of addressing the negative impacts of climate change and pursuing socio-economic development. Though its countries have deep social and political differences, the urgency to tackle the adverse impact of climate change is emerging as an opportunity to lessen these differences and work towards a common future for the South Asian region.

‘While it is heartening that the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) came up with a common ‘Thimphu Statement on climate change’ a year ago, not enough effort has been made to implement the approved plans and policies.

‘The civil society organisations of South Asia under the umbrella of CANSA therefore came forward at the right time to discuss the implementation status of the Thimpu declaration, and to give recommendations for the future. At the recent CANSA consultation on SAARC, participants dropped their national identities and concentrated on how to strengthen the climate resilience of South Asia as a single entity. Bangladeshis committed to supporting the mountain agenda brought forward by Nepal and Bhutan in the international arena, while Indian colleagues promised to share their knowledge management capabilities with their Pakistani counterparts’.

Sunil Acharaya, Research and Policy Officer, Clean Energy Nepal.

Photo credit: Oxfam / Tom Pietrasik.

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