Key insights: Convening national and sub-national actors in Namibia to scale adaptation action

Key insights: Convening national and sub-national actors in Namibia to scale adaptation action

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Date: 21st August 2023
Type: Feature
Countries: Africa, Namibia

CDKN’s Amanda April, Fatema Rajabali and Margaret Angula reflect on the Namibia country programme inception meeting, where key stakeholders laid the groundwork for collaboration to build resilience, enhance adaptation and promote sustainable practices. The authors share eight insights that emerged from the collaborative meeting.

The hot and dry country of Namibia is a climate change “hotspot” globally - a 2°C global increase will mean a 2.7°C increase in Namibia. Given Namibia’s vulnerability, implementing climate action in the country is urgent. 

Previous projects such as Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR), Uptake of Climate Change Adaptation research results in Africa (CLARE-Namibia) and CDKN’s phase 2 work in Namibia have been excellent examples of knowledge brokering for capacity building and strengthening. In June 2023, an inception meeting with national and sub-national stakeholders was organised with three objectives in mind: launching the Namibia country programme, identifying key stakeholders to collaborate and partner with, building a shared understanding and consensus of key priorities and focus for Namibian work.

The meeting brought together 36 high-level stakeholders from diverse ministries, subnational government representatives, youth representatives, academics, the media and non-governmental organisations. The CDKN programme in Namibia represents the collective commitment from national to local constituencies, to address the challenges posed by a changing climate and find innovative solutions that can safeguard the country’s future. The inception meeting established the foundation for these collaborative efforts, bringing together various key actors to explore avenues for building resilience, enhancing adaptive capacity and promoting sustainable practices to mitigate the impacts of climate change, while transcending national, regional and local boundaries and forging strong partnerships.

Namibia country programme inception meeting group (cred. CDKN)
Namibia country programme inception meeting group

Below are eight key insights that emerged from the discussion:

   1. Stakeholder buy-in is paramount

The inception meeting generated collective agreement on what the priorities of the country programme should be, given the national priorities of decentralising climate change adaptation. This required the CDKN Namibia team to navigate contentious issues like the definition of what it means to be ‘marginalised’ in Namibia so that we have a collective understanding and agreement about how this will be integrated into the country’s activities.

   2. Understand what the national priorities are

When working to inform national government priorities, it is imperative to embed activities in ongoing efforts. Government officials are more likely to support work that is linked to their mandates. For example, as a result of CDKN Namibia’s alignment with the work of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (MEFT), the ministry added the CDKN country programme as one of the activities to be monitored and supported by the Department under its five-year plan. This will ensure that the country programme is embedded within the priorities of the MEFT to ensure that it receives adequate support. 

   3. Don’t reinvent the wheel

In the previous CDKN phase, the country team identified the regional Disaster Risk Reduction Committees as existing structures where climate change planning and action could be embedded as an alternative to creating a platform from scratch. There was overwhelming agreement from stakeholders to continue using the Disaster Risk Management Committees platform. The Office of the Prime Minister together with the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism have a strategy in place to address disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in tandem. However, this strategy was never implemented, so CDKN is using this window of opportunity to do so.

   4. Knowledge brokering is key to climate and gender mainstreaming and climate-resilient development

The CDKN meeting brought together colleagues and stakeholders who have been working on the same issues but had never met, interacted or planned collaboratively. The inception meeting provided a platform for working across silos to identify synergies that can help make the best use of available and at times limited resources. The Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Alleviation and Social Welfare is realising their role in ensuring gender equity is central to all climate change adaptation programmes. CDKN Namibia aims to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Gender to start playing this role as well as the coordination between this ministry and the Ministry of Environment.

“One of my core responsibilities is to coordinate the implementation of rural development projects in the region. These activities are perfectly aligned with the activities of CDKN Phase 3. I now understand the critical role that CDKN is playing in Namibia, its focus areas and objectives.” - Regional Council official 

   5. Informal knowledge brokering adds value

Valuable insight is gained when taking part in informal knowledge brokering, especially when engaging in political contexts. For example, advice on strategic activity alignments and an understanding of protocol and procedures is attained when engaging high-level officials. Through informal engagement, we get to know what is happening with policy development relevant for CDKN thematic areas. This timely information is important to ensure meaningful impact in our engagements.

   6. Participatory methods are powerful tools for climate education

Participatory methods such as games are useful to get messages across. For instance, gender and climate change games are powerful messaging and educational tools. An example is the gender walk; a reflective scenario activity which seeks to elicit social differences around gender and social inclusion through role-play within a community or society. 

Participants taking part in the gender walk at the CDKN inception meeting (cred. CDKN)
Participants taking part in the gender walk at the CDKN inception meeting

   7. The need for a national knowledge management system

A participant at the inception meeting emphasised the importance of institutionalising knowledge management systems on climate change to ensure that knowledge is retained and sustained, and the role that universities can play in centralising climate change adaptation and mitigation databases.

   8. Establish safeguarding and ethics principles to do no harm

Safeguarding and ethics protocols are key when engaging local and marginalised communities. This is especially important for preventing the unguarded extraction of their indigenous knowledge while encouraging communities to tap into indigenous knowledge for climate adaptation purposes. For example, who should hold the intellectual property rights to indigenous knowledge during project implementation? These are some of the questions raised during the inception meeting.

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