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Insect apocalypse? Not so fast, at least in North America

Biodiversity News - Mon, 10/08/2020 - 16:24
Recent reports of dramatic declines in insect populations have sparked concern about an 'insect apocalypse.' But a new analysis of data from sites across North America suggests the case isn't proven. Matthew D. Moran, Professor of Biology, Hendrix College Licensed as Creative Commons – attribution, no derivatives.

CBA14: 14th International Conference on Community-based Adaptation to Climate Change

Join us for the 2020 International Conference on Community-based Adaptation to Climate Change, the leading practitioner-focused forum on climate adaptation, delivering dialogue and evidence to inform policy and action – from the local to the global scale.

CBA14 will bring together practitioners, grassroots representatives, policymakers and donors for interactive discussions, workshops and skillshares.

This event is the only conference that focuses on community-based adaptation, putting the people most vulnerable to climate change at the centre of the conversation. This year, this key event in the climate adaptation calendar will take place online, with an innovative programme focused on learning, networking and creative dialogue.

Benefits of attending      

Although we are sad to not be able to meet in person, we are aiming to maximise the exciting potential of an online conference. We are designing a digital event with community at its heart. CBA14 will enable participants from around the world to share, learn and engage in creative conversations via computer or via a smartphone app.

CBA14 will not be a series of presentations and panels! We are building a wide-ranging and innovative programme that offers the fullest range of sessions, dialogues and ways to connect.

Flexible delivery
We are creating a programme that can be delivered in ways to suit your schedule. You can join conference sessions live or download session videos and then contribute to the ongoing discussions online.

Learning opportunities
The conference videos and presentations will provide a valuable learning resource for practitioners and policymakers alike. At CBA14, you will be able to learn directly from those working on adaptation on the ground, as participants share examples of projects, evidence, tools, approaches through the marketplace, skillshares, and workshop sessions.

We will also be delivering our hugely popular Dragon’s Den sessions, which focus on developing strong funding proposals.

We will issue training certificates to participants who have completed sessions in the CBA capacity building track.

Maximum networking
CBA conferences draw a wide range of people, from grassroots organisations to policymakers. In this year of cancelled in-person meetings, CBA will be one of the few places where South-South networks will have a chance to connect – both with colleagues from the global South and with major development partners.

Having the conference online allows us to bring together a wider, more diverse group, and can make it easier for you to contact the people you want to meet.

CBA14 is built around networking: we will be hosting online ‘meet-and-greet’ events in the run-up to the conference, and you will have the opportunity to connect online with leading practitioners from our community and others. We are keeping numbers limited so that session numbers are small enough to allow meaningful conversations.

You can use the search tools and message boards to identify colleagues working on similar issues and connect with them directly on the platform.

Programme

The CBA14 programme will focus on five key themes and will aim to address these questions: 

  • Climate finance: how can public and private sector finance be accountably and transparently mobilised to scale up climate action, while remaining inclusive? 
  • Adaptation technology: how can technology be used to bring about adaptation at the national level, and be integrated through policy and finance?  
  • Responsive policy: how can social movements inform policy that is ambitious enough to meet the Paris Agreement targets and improve climate adaptation for communities?
  • Nature-based solutions: how can nature-based solutions be made to work for people, nature and climate?
  • Youth stream: how can we transform our institutions so that they can take advantage of young people’s participation in delivering local-level adaptation?
Collaborate on the programme design

We want you to help develop the programme: submit your proposals for sessions, skillshares or the marketplace and collaborate with other organisations to develop them.

Online support 

This is an online workshop that people can attend via the internet from their computer or mobile phone. For best results – use both! 

We will provide registered participants with detailed guidance on how to attend and how to host sessions on the conference platform. 

Practical details: costs and how to register

We want to make CBA14 as inclusive as possible: to bring people together from all walks of life to share their lived experiences of community-based adaptation.

Pricing

To support this aim, we’ve created a sliding scale pricing scheme that addresses the expense of organising a major event but also minimises the cost for as many people as possible. We are asking those who can to pay a little more so that we can provide sponsorship for those who may not have the resources to attend. 

We are offering a range of registration fees and asking participants to pay what they can afford. Ticket prices range from £50, £100, £150 to £200. In addition, we have a ‘solidarity’ ticket for larger organisations. This is priced at £300 and includes a contribution to our sponsored places fund (see below).

Solidarity fund for sponsored places

To support a wide range of participants, we are offering sponsored places and are asking organisations to contribute to this sponsorship scheme via a solidarity ticket priced at £300. 

By contributing to the solidarity fund, you will be helping us to offer a more diverse and inclusive event with a wider cohort of participants from community organisations across the global South. Your contribution will be acknowledged on your profile page on the conference platform.

Sponsored places

We have reserved one-third of available places for students, representatives of community-based organisations, small NGOs and local government officials based and working in the global South that do not have support from international/global organisations, with a focus on women and young people. If you would like to apply for a sponsored place, please submit an application

Contact

For questions about registering or attending CBA14, please email event manager Karin Pointner (karin.pointner@iied.org). 

Opportunities to support this event

We are also seeking conference partners who can contribute expertise, strategic thinking, publicity and funds. CBA is not part of a large organisation with access to large amounts of unrestricted funds, and we rely on our community of partners to put this event together.

Taking into account the funds saved from your initial travel budget lines, please consider investing in this process with us by contributing your financial support. Your organisation can financially support CBA14 in a way that works for you. If you are interested in becoming a funder, a host or contributing partner, please email CBA programme manager Teresa Sarroca (teresa.sarroca@iied.org).

About the organisers 

CBA14 is organised by CARE, the Climate Justice Resilience Fund, the Global Resilience Partnership, Irish Aid, Practical Action and IIED, in collaboration with BRAC, the Huairou Commission, Green Africa Youth, IUCN NL, Environmental Management for Livelihood Improvement Bwaise Facility, African Centre for Trade and Development and Slum Dwellers International.

Lima's community-organised soup kitchens are a lifeline during COVID-19

In Lima’s informal settlements, ollas comunes – community-led soup kitchens – are reviving strong traditions of self-organised crisis response and resilience among the urban poor.

Latin America is a region of dramatic socioeconomic contrasts, where extreme wealth and poverty exist in parallel. In Peru, the coronavirus pandemic has exposed public policy failures as the country struggles to support vulnerable communities in need (including a significant number of migrants and refugees from Venezuela who remain invisible to the government).

Ollas comunes (community-led soup kitchens) are an example of resilience and participation activated by community organisations as a response to COVID-19 and the national lockdown. 

Community-led initiatives are crucial in contexts of informality and inequality

Historically, ollas comunes have appeared in times of crisis, such as the internal armed conflict, economic recession, and now, the COVID-19 pandemic. Slum-dwellers are able to mobilise rapidly, utilising existing reliable community networks to provide food for their communities. Although ollas comunes exist in times of peace, they multiply and perform most effectively in moments of increased need. 

As an ad-hoc crisis response, ollas comunes are a social practice based on solidarity, tradition, and resilience. 

Popular kitchens or comedores populares, provide meals to thousands of low-income residents in Lima. They are mostly run by women and provide heavily subsidised meals. According to figures from the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI), in Peru there are 15,567 popular kitchens that benefit 797,770 people – but those numbers reflect a pre-pandemic reality.

Though they are formal structures that function year-round and are sponsored by government social protection policies, the Peruvian government decided to shut down comedores populares early in the pandemic, to avoid the virus spreading. 

Ollas comunes on the other hand, are entirely community-led, artisanal and informal – but they are by no means improvised. They represent community planning and organisation at its best. 

Rosita, a slum dweller in Mirador de Los Humedales-Ventanilla visited markets and knocked on many doors before securing aid from the local municipality for her olla común. Local authorities are providing rice and cooking oil, Rosita and other community leaders are in charge of the rest (Photo: copyright TECHO- Perú)

Mapping as a strategy

The municipality of Lima has implemented a mapping strategy to identify ollas comunes across informal settlements, a strategy that the NGO TECHO and planning institute CENCA adopted when the pandemic broke out.

As of mid-July 2020, CENCA identified 35 ollas comunes in the district of San Juan de Lurigancho, the most populated district in Lima with over a million inhabitants, and TECHO has mapped 44 ollas comunes in 36 slums across five districts in the periphery.

A view of San Juan de Miraflores (Photo: copyright Edgar Escalante)

Slum dwellers hope that mapping their ollas comunes, both at the grassroots and by government, will deliver better recognition for their strong networks and community leadership – and that this visibility will help them access resources, training and funds. 

This crisis has shown that top-down approaches are not working in the context of extensive informality. Including community leaders in the co-production of policy is crucial. The pandemic has also shown the importance of local data – but this is information that local authorities often do not have.

Data must be transparent and accessible, to ensure that it can serve policymakers and help local communities to gain visibility and access aid. 

Formalisation vs effectiveness 

Preparing a meal in the San Juan de Vista Alegre community in San Juan de Miraflores, Lima (Photo: copyright TECHO-Perú)

Local and national governments are developing pro-poor strategies, but many exclude the most vulnerable and prioritise formalisation over quick and effective aid. Practical solutions can be as easy as shortening a lengthy online form that excludes anyone without access to the internet, or using WhatsApp, the mobile phone messaging platform, which has proved to be an effective and accessible tool for most urban dwellers

From health emergency to food crisis

The coronavirus crisis is developing into a food crisis as slum dwellers remain unemployed and their savings are running out. 

A recent survey conducted by the Institute of Peruvian Studies revealed that Peruvians were more afraid of going hungry than of COVID-19 (PDF), highlighting the food emergency facing these communities. It is not just about sourcing food, but also the quality, quantity and food supply. 

There has been some progress as part of the evolving relationship between the government and community leaders. Discussions on promoting urban agriculture strategies and encouraging initiatives that shift from food waste to food recovery are taking place at the grassroots, civil society and political levels.

It is critical for these actors to seek community-led solutions to prevent further out of touch and impractical guidelines such as those recently approved by the Ministry of Health, which make assistance conditional on criteria that are unrealistic in informal settlements, such as having a fixed infrastructure with walls, running water and toilet facilities. 

Such top-down policymaking has rendered many of these communities invisible and continues, preventing many slum-dwellers from receiving much-needed government assistance. 

Ollas communes are effectively serving their purpose and the tacit structure is in place when and if needed, but they are not a long-term solution. While some community-led soup kitchens have shown interest in formalising and becoming popular kitchens, others have not.

As Carlos, a community leader from the San Juan de Miraflores district explains, things will only return to 'normal' when there is no longer a need for our ollas comunes.

Community members preparing lunch in La Capilla, a small community located in the outskirts of Lima (Photo: copyright TECHO-Perú)

Slum dwellers strive to be recognised for their unsung assets and capabilities. By highlighting their activism and the organisational power embodied within their ollas comunes, residents in informal settlements aim to be recognised, even when their ollas comunes disappear.

Slum dwellers have untapped potential for crisis response based on experience and social capital which is engrained in the fabric of their communities. 

Due to COVID-19, political actors and policymakers are increasingly becoming aware of these capabilities and though progress is slow, community leaders are beginning to be part of the conversation. 

How COVID-19 is impacting and changing East Africa’s agri-food systems

In this fourth report on emerging lessons from COVID-19, we look at the pandemic's complex impacts on East African food systems and highlight the need for an inclusive policy response working closely with informal providers.

Beyond COVID-19: grassroots visions of change

This article is part of a new IIED series that offers forward-looking responses on key themes during the pandemic, drawing on our partners' insights and providing a platform for voices from the global South.

Efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 have severely disrupted agri-food supply chains in East Africa, putting a strain on the millions of people whose livelihoods depend on the food system as well as citizens who rely (to a greater or lesser extent) on purchased food. 

A triple blow for agricultural production

Many small-scale farmers and agricultural workers have been devastated as foreign demand has plummeted for commodities such as flowers, coffee and fish, leading to mass layoffs and pay reductions in key export industries. Female workers in the Kenyan flower industry have described the acute stress caused by financial uncertainty, long working hours and caring for children while schools are closed. 

Farmers have also faced the triple threat of COVID-19, a locust invasion, and extreme weather – causing floods in some regions and droughts in others. Efforts to tackle one crisis have sometimes been hampered by measures to curtail another. 

Multiple timelines for impacts

The impacts of COVID-19 are likely to play out on different time scales, with many short-term shocks to production and trade giving way to longer-term consequences for other parts of the food system.

In a region heavily dependent on road freight for the trade of essential goods, COVID-19 testing regimes at East African borders have caused transport bottlenecks, leading to delays in delivering agri-food commodities. As a result, some farmers reported shortages of inputs such as seeds and fertilisers, which meant they were late in planting next season’s crops. In the long term, this could lead to decreased outputs of staple commodities, threatening both future livelihoods and wider food security.

Due to temporary stay-at-home orders, street food vendors in Kampala (most of whom are women) have suffered dramatic income losses; some have also reported being excluded from social protection schemes and subjected to police violence. In the long run, if marginalised groups such as informal vendors fall into acute poverty, this will not only impact their own food security, but also that of the many low-income urban residents (PDF) who rely on them for affordable, nutritious food. 

Necessity is the mother of invention

In the face of crisis, many food system actors have found ways to adapt. In Kampala, some informal vendors have switched to door-to-door sales, while others are trialling e-commerce platforms. Farmers in Kenya are using social media to sell produce to local customers, buy inputs and communicate with extension service providers. And the Rwandan government has asked coffee mills to pay farmers using mobile payments

But uneven access to digital services in East Africa (and elsewhere in the global South) means that technology provides only limited solutions to COVID-19’s challenges. 

Looking ahead

Responses to the pandemic have temporarily reshaped food systems, shortening supply chains and increasing demand for local foods. In Ethiopia, the perceived COVID-related risks of consuming animal-sourced foods and raw vegetables led to a shift in demand away from these products. While some concerns may have subsided, there is evidence of a steady increase in the consumption of pasteurised and powdered milk, as well as value-added dairy products such as yoghurt in Kenya

It remains uncertain which  changes will outlast the pandemic, and who will benefit or lose. Small-scale transporters may lose out if supply chains shrink, while producers focused on high-value exports will likely lose income by pivoting to local markets. However, processors could benefit from shifts in consumer preferences.

To date, food system actors with precarious livelihoods that are already actively marginalised – including informal workers and women – have suffered the most from harsh responses to the pandemic. Instead, governments and local authorities should strive for more socially inclusive and gender-responsive approaches. Greater policy recognition is needed of the role that these low-income but vital actors play in ensuring food security and the functioning of supply chains, even under ‘normal’ circumstances. 

Note: This article drew on research conducted by IIED and its partners as part of an IKEA Foundation-funded project on sustainable agriculture in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. 

Resources

Below is a list of online resources about COVID-19 and food systems. We will update this list during the coming months.

Read more

Our collection about coronavirus examines some of the emerging impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the people and places where we work.

Culverts – the major threat to fish you've probably never heard of

Biodiversity News - Thu, 06/08/2020 - 15:58
Fish need to cross roads too. But the tunnels built to channel rivers under roads and railways can block their migrations. Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley, Sêr Cymru Research Fellow in Freshwater Ecology, Swansea University Cecilia Gontijo Leal, Postdoctoral Researcher in Applied Ecology, Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Belém Sayali Pawar, Research Fellow in GIS and Environmental Change, Swansea University Licensed as Creative Commons – attribution, no derivatives.

Shared vulnerabilities? Connecting climate and health in cities: Make Change Happen podcast episode 7

Cities and towns are hugely impacted by both climate change and public health crises. This combined (and intertwined) threat weighs heaviest on the poorest urban communities. Health and climate specialists are already working hard on reducing urban risk and increasing resilience, but what has COVID-19 shown us about how these experts could learn from each other, and how they could work better with knowledgeable local actors? This episode explores how cross-sector learning and collaboration may be one key to creating more resilient and equitable cities.

IIED’s ‘Make Change Happen’ podcast provides an opportunity to hear our researchers and guests discuss key global development challenges and explain how they are working to support positive change.  

This seventh episode was inspired by considering the links between public health crises and the risks of climate change in cities; it forms part of our efforts to observe and contribute to forward-looking responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hosted by Anna Walnycki, senior researcher in our Human Settlements research group, the discussion features Aditya Bahadur, principal researcher with the Human Settlements research group; Sarah McIvor, climate change researcher at IIED; and Annie Wilkinson, an anthropologist and health systems researcher at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS)

This episode also includes valuable reflections from climate change researcher Anmol Aurora, based in India, and Dr Joseph M. Macarthy, executive director of the Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre (SLURC), who joins the conversation from Freetown.

Breaking sector boundaries to create more resilient cities

In this episode of ‘Make Change Happen’, the guests discuss the similarities between public health crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and the impacts of climate change on urban settings in the global South. One significant element in common: both have devastating human consequences.

The discussion covers the nature of emergency epidemic responses, which are still largely top-down, and how these are distinct from the many public health programmes that successfully engage with community infrastructure. The guests then explore whether the more inclusive and preventative approaches taken by some urban risk and climate change projects could help map a path to including urban communities and other local-level actors in the prevention and management of health emergencies. 

Both climate change and public health emergencies have devastating human consequences on urban settings. This episode of 'Make Change Happen' examines similarities and cross-sector learning between public health crises and the impacts of climate disaster in cities and towns in the global South (Photo: Gwydion M. Williams via FlickrCC BY 2.0)

After discussing some examples, the guests turn to consider what COVID-19 has shown us about the potential of ‘big data’ as a tool to influence policy. They look at how the localised data gap – which affects the efficacy of climate, health and disaster risk and prevention projects, especially those based in informal settlements – could be filled.

Walnycki closes the episode by asking each guest and contributor to reflect on the conversation and describe the one change they most wish to see: what is needed for healthier, fairer and more resilient cities to flourish?

Additional resources
  • C40 is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change. C40 supports cities to collaborate effectively, share knowledge and drive meaningful, measurable and sustainable action on climate change.
     
  • The LDC Initiative for Effective Adaptation and Resilience (LIFE-AR) aims to develop an over-arching least developed countries (LDC) vision for adapting towards a climate-resilient future by 2050; the vision will be led and driven by LDCs, driving forward climate action in line with their needs and priorities.
     
  • The Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform (SSHAP) is a programme of work focusing on the social dimensions of emergency responses: it works on emergencies that relate to health, conflict or the environment, and focuses efforts on exploring the political economy, community engagement and cultural logics, social difference and vulnerabilities of those emergencies.
     
  • SLURC is a globally connected research centre that aims to generate capacity building as well as research initiatives in cities across Sierra Leone, focused on the well-being of residents of informal settlements.
How to listen and subscribe

The ‘Make Change Happen’ podcast will provide informal insights into IIED’s work to create positive change and make the complex issues we face more accessible to wider audiences. The title refers to IIED’s 2019-2024 strategy, which sets out how IIED plans to respond to the critical challenges of our time.

You can subscribe to the podcast on your favourite podcast app as follows:

Soundcloud Stitcher TuneIn
 Spotify  iTunes  Acast

The podcast is also available on IIED's YouTube channel.

You can follow some of the people you have heard in this episode on Twitter at @AnnaWalnycki, @wordsbyanmol and @ALSWilkinson. Follow the podcast on @IIED_Voices for all the latest updates.

Lima's community-organised soup kitchens are a lifeline during COVID19

In Lima’s informal settlements, ollas comunes - community-led soup kitchens - are reviving strong traditions of self-organised crisis response and resilience amongst the urban poor.

Latin America is a region of dramatic socioeconomic contrasts, where extreme wealth and poverty exist in parallel. In Peru, the coronavirus pandemic has exposed public policy failures as the country struggles to support vulnerable communities in need (including a significant number of migrants and refugees from Venezuela who remain invisible to the government).

Ollas comunes (community-led soup kitchens) are an example of resilience and participation activated by community organisations as a response to COVID-19 and the national lockdown. 

Community-led initiatives are crucial in contexts of informality and inequality

Historically, ollas comunes have appeared in times of crisis, such as the internal armed conflict, economic recession, and now, the COVID-19 pandemic. Slum-dwellers are able to mobilise rapidly, utilising existing reliable community networks to provide food for their communities. Although ollas comunes exist in times of peace, they multiply and perform most effectively in moments of increased need. 

As an ad-hoc crisis response, ollas comunes are a social practice based on solidarity, tradition, and resilience. 

Popular kitchens or comedores populares, provide meals to thousands of low-income residents in Lima. They are mostly run by women and provide heavily subsidised meals. According to figures from the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI), in Peru there are 15,567 popular kitchens that benefit 797,770 people - but those numbers reflect a pre-pandemic reality. Though they are formal structures that function year-round and are sponsored by government social protection policies, the Peruvian government decided to shut down comedores populares early in the pandemic, to avoid the virus spreading. 

Ollas comunes on the other hand, are entirely community-led, artisanal and informal - but they are by no means improvised. They represent community planning and organisation at its best. 

Rosita, a slum dweller in Mirador de Los Humedales-Ventanilla visited markets and knocked on many doors before securing aid from the local municipality for her olla común. Local authorities are providing rice and cooking oil, Rosita and other community leaders are in charge of the rest. (Photo: copyright TECHO- Perú)

Mapping as a strategy

The Municipality of Lima has implemented a mapping strategy to identify ollas comunes across informal settlements, a strategy that the NGO TECHO and planning institute CENCA adopted when the pandemic broke out. As of mid-July 2020, CENCA identified 35 ollas comunes in the district of San Juan de Lurigancho, the most populated district in Lima with over a million inhabitants, and TECHO has mapped 44 ollas comunes in 36 slums across five districts in the periphery.

A view of San Juan de Miraflores (Photo: Copyright Edgar Escalante)

Slum dwellers hope that mapping their ollas comunes, both at the grassroots and by government, will deliver better recognition for their strong networks and community leadership - and that this visibility will help them access resources, training, and funds. 

This crisis has shown that top-down approaches are not working in the context of extensive informality. Including community leaders in the co-production of policy is crucial. The pandemic has also shown the importance of local data - but this is information that local authorities often do not have. Data must be transparent and accessible, to ensure that it can serve policymakers and help local communities to gain visibility and access aid. 

Formalisation vs effectiveness 

Preparing a meal in the San Juan de Vista Alegre community in San Juan de Miraflores, Lima (Photo: copyright TECHO- Perú)

Local and national governments are developing pro-poor strategies, but many exclude the most vulnerable and prioritise formalisation over quick and effective aid. Practical solutions can be as easy as shortening a lengthy online form that excludes anyone without access to the internet, or using WhatsApp, the mobile phone messaging platform, which has proved to be an effective and accessible tool for most urban dwellers

From health emergency to food crisis

The coronavirus crisis is developing into a food crisis as slum dwellers remain unemployed and their savings are running out. 

A recent survey conducted by the Institute of Peruvian Studies revealed that Peruvians were more afraid of going hungry than of COVID-19 (PDF), highlighting the food emergency facing these communities. It is not just about sourcing food, but also the quality, quantity, and food supply. 

There has been some progress as part of the evolving relationship between the government and community leaders. Discussions on promoting urban agriculture strategies and encouraging initiatives that shift from food waste to food recovery are taking place at the grassroots, civil society, and political levels.

It is critical for these actors to seek community-led solutions to prevent further out of touch and impractical guidelines like those recently approved by the Ministry of Health, which make assistance conditional on criteria that are unrealistic in informal settlements, such as having a fixed infrastructure with walls, running water and toilet facilities. 

Such top-down policymaking has rendered many of these communities invisible and continues, preventing many slum-dwellers from receiving much-needed government assistance. 

Ollas communes are effectively serving their purpose and the tacit structure is in place when and if needed, but they are not a long-term solution. Whilst some community-led soup kitchens have shown interest in formalising and becoming popular kitchens, others have not. As Carlos, a community leader from the San Juan de Miraflores district explains, things will only return to 'normal' when there is no longer a need for our ollas comunes.

Community members preparing lunch in La Capilla, a small community located in the outskirts of Lima. (Photo: copyright TECHO- Perú)

Slum dwellers strive to be recognised for their unsung assets and capabilities. By highlighting their activism and the organisational power embodied within their ollas comunes, residents in informal settlements aim to be recognised, even when their ollas comunes disappear. Slum dwellers have untapped potential for crisis response based on experience and social capital which is engrained in the fabric of their communities. 

Due to COVID-19, political actors and policy makers are increasingly becoming aware of these capabilities and though progress is slow, community leaders are beginning to be part of the conversation. 

International community-based adaptation network comes together for online event

More than 300 participants from 50 countries participated in an innovative digital meeting previewing this year’s International Conference on Community-based Adaptation to climate change (CBA14).

The online meeting entitled ‘CBA14 Setting the stage: from crisis to climate action’ showcased the interactive, participatory approach that will be the hallmark of September's international CBA14 conference. It featured cartoons, group discussions and presentations from CBA practitioners.

Organisers had flagged their plans to use cartoons to stimulate discussions about CBA14’s five key themes, and there was a palpable sense of curiosity and enthusiasm among the many people signing in and introducing themselves in the event chatbox as the meeting began.

Pablo Suarez, associate director for research and innovation at the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre, introduced the cartoon session. He emphasised the value of using humour to generate rich and creative conversations about crucial issues.

How to confront difficult realities on #CommunityBasedAdaptation? #CBA14 taster session today offered glimpse of #cartoonathon innovation: Humor-enabled session to help us discuss gap between what is & what could be - through #SeriousFun. Thx @CJRF @IIED, artists & participants! https://t.co/mHPJ790cO6 pic.twitter.com/td9rkgpPaY

— Pablo Suarez (@PabloSurGames) July 21, 2020

Cartoonists had contributed 18 images that highlighted some of the challenges and frustrations facing communities and practitioners implementing climate adaptation at the local level. You can see the cartoons in the video below.

Participants were invited to visit the online gallery and comment on the images. The cartoon gallery served as the trigger for the breakout session which followed, with participants sharing their responses to the cartoons and discussing how the images reflected their experiences. These comments were fed back to the cartoonists who updated their drawings for the close of the meeting.

Presentations: coronavirus responses and CBA

The meeting also included three short presentations by CBA practitioners working in Zambia, India and Bangladesh. These focused on how community-based groups are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lessons for climate action.

Musonda Kapena, from the Zambia National Forest Commodity Organisation (ZNFCO), told the meeting how her association is working with forest communities by fostering nature-based solutions to build resilience to climate change and other risks. 

Godavari Dange, secretary of the Sakhi Federation in Maharashtra state in India, told the meeting about how grassroots women in rural areas are responding to the pandemic.  She said women leaders have set up a task force that is offering support to migrant workers who are returning from cities after having lost their jobs because of COVID-19. The Sakhi Federation is a member of the Huairou Commission, a global coalition supporting grassroots women.

Dr Liakath Ali, director of Bangladesh NGO BRAC, reported that Bangladesh is facing multiple, severe challenges: climate change, the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan, an outbreak of Dengue Fever and COVID-19. BRAC has undertaken huge efforts to support people to deal with these threats to health and safety, food security and livelihoods, and Ali highlighted the importance of community-driven approaches for creating resilience.

During the presentations, the online chat stream was busy with participants commenting on the presentations and asking questions, but unfortunately, with a run-time of only 90 minutes, there was little time left for Q&As. The meeting host, IIED’s Sam Greene, noted: “We had so many participants that we ran out of time to host extensive question-and-answer sessions – but we look forward to having more time for interaction and networking at CBA14.”

You can watch a video recording of this event below, or watch it on IIED’s YouTube channel.

The road to CBA14 conference this September

This meeting was a preview for CBA14, which will take place online from 21-25 September 2020. 

To participate in CBA14, register now


Greene encouraged people to register and start benefiting from the many networking opportunities offered by the online format. He said: “We’re aiming for CBA to be interactive, engaging and to offer plenty of opportunities to network and share ideas and create a platform where community and grassroots voices can continue to be heard.”

During the coming weeks, registered participants will be invited to a series of ‘meet and greet’ events. Organisers are asking key individuals to host one-hour sessions for 10-15 people so that people can start creating their networks in advance and have lots of opportunities to engage with others from the international community.

Greene said: “The sooner that you sign up to the platform, the sooner these meet and greets will be available to you, and there will be another fascinating opportunity to engage with others and hear new perspectives.”

You can also explore the programme now and submit proposals for sessions, skill shares or the marketplace and collaborate with other organisations to develop them. 

The #CBA14 conference is happening in September. It's going to be like nothing you've attended before! Check out my new blog with @Chris_P_Hen to learn more: https://t.co/k2xTyBEw5B @iied @PAConsultingUK @CJRFund

— Heather McGray (@HMcGray) July 8, 2020

Biodiversity loss could be making us sick – here's why

Biodiversity News - Tue, 04/08/2020 - 10:19
Rich and diverse microbiomes in our local environment are important for keeping us healthy. Jake M. Robinson, PhD Researcher, Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield Licensed as Creative Commons – attribution, no derivatives.

Sustaining coffee producers’ agency in the context of COVID-19

Initiatives seeking to strengthen the agency of coffee producers are being disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. IIED hosted a webinar to look at how one social enterprise has been seeking to create positive social and economic change in Kenya’s coffee industry, the implications of COVID-19 and possible solutions for sustaining progress.

Vava Coffee is a social enterprise in Kenya that aims to tackle barriers to an inclusive, fair and sustainable coffee sector. Its main focus is promoting access and agency for women and young people in the coffee supply chain. With the advent of COVID-19, Vava Coffee faces unprecedented challenges.

IIED hosted a webinar to consider how the global pandemic has impacted Vava Coffee and its producers, and how they can overcome those challenges.

The webinar panellists were Vava Angwenyi, creator of Vava Coffee; Holly Kragiopoulos, owner and director of Vava Coffee’s UK partners North Star Coffee Roasters (North Star); and Brian Oduor, a young farm manager at Vava Coffee, currently heading the Kisaju-Kipeto organic food project.

About Vava Coffee and its partners

Vava Angwenyi set up Vava Coffee in 2009 and has provided capacity building and training to more than 30,000 Kenyan coffee producers and has purchased from over 14,000 of them to date.

Vava is also a founder and director of Gente del Futuro (People of the Future), a partnership between Vava Coffee, Kilimanjaro Plantation in Tanzania and Oro Molido in Colombia. The partnership aims to empower women and young farmers and create a viable future for coffee producers.

Vava Coffee works with North Star, an award-winning coffee roastery, academy and coffee shop based in Leeds, in the north of the UK.

Promoting the agency of women and young coffee producers

Vava Angwenyi said that agriculture is an important sector in Kenya, but there are many barriers to entry for women, including the fact the men own nearly all the land.

Eighty per cent of the population is below the age of 35 and the vast majority are unemployed. Young people are leaving rural areas, and the average age of coffee producers is gradually increasing, which is an issue for the future of the industry.

It was in this context that Vava Angwenyi started a social enterprise with the aim of disrupting the coffee sector and enhancing sustainable livelihoods for smallholder farmers, focusing on women and young people. Vava Coffee seeks to integrate more women and youth into the coffee supply chain by directly linking them to markets.

Vava Coffee seeks to create strong relationships with the coffee-producing communities and support them with a range of initiatives. 

Storytelling is used to capture producers’ experiences, and can be used to communicate their realities to domestic and international buyers – particularly to those who are prioritising traceability but also want to ensure a 'profitable' price. Vava works with producers to understand their production costs to inform price negotiations with buyers.

These approaches have facilitated relationships with buyers such as North Star that pay premium prices for ‘specialty’ grade coffees.

Vava Coffee has also created Africa’s first women-only fair trade certified coffee that is traceable to two women’s groups in the Rift Valley.

Watch a recording of the webinar above or on IIED’s YouTube channel

Brian Oduor pointed out that coffee prices are key to encourage farmers to grow this crop. Vava Coffee has gathered data on production costs to understand what a sustainable price is for coffee producers.

Holly Kragiopoulos explained that the prevailing market price is not sufficient and North Star wants to participate in a supply chain that is paying a price that is rewarding both quality but also the true production costs.

Some producers are interested in roasting their own coffee and setting up local business to give them additional revenue. Vava Coffee (via Gente del Futuro) has been providing training which ranges from the technical (such as how to grow coffee beans and improve quality) through to leadership and entrepreneurship.

Vava Coffee has a roasting facility that some producers use. Vava Coffee and North Star have also paid for scholarships for women and young people to help them access other jobs in the coffee industry – sensory analysis and exporting for instance.

Sustaining production and support at times of crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has hit Kenya’s coffee industry. Producers are seeing orders being cancelled and reduced.

Vava Coffee continues to engage in sustainable coffee projects. It has been providing coffee producers with funding to cover expenses during harvest and has been supplying them with personal protective equipment. Vava Coffee is also working with longstanding partners North Star, which has continued to support local producers by purchasing their coffee. 

Livelihood diversification for resilience

With support from Gente del Futuro, Vava Coffee had been implementing projects teaching women and youth how to grow other crops to diversify their income. This has been particularly key in the current crisis.

Oduor spoke about his experience as head of the Kisaju-Kipeto organic food project. He highlighted opportunities for young people, in particular, who are trained to produce organic food that can be consumed by local communities.

Vava Coffee has also encouraged women to produce biogas via cow dung and promoted improved animal husbandry practices to reduce costs and increase revenue.

What next for coffee producers?

Traceability is essential for producers and retailers of specialty coffee, so they can justify higher prices. Kragiopoulos said it isn’t easy to guarantee that all the coffee they sell comes from the same producers; this is one of the reasons why North Star has built a long term relationship with Vava.

Vava Coffee and Gente del Futuro are working with companies that are developing digital applications for improving traceability (including farmerline and trace.coffee) and hope to implement the technology soon.

To measure the impact of their projects, Angwenyi said that Vava Coffee and North Star use the price paid to producers, as well as the production costs and environmental standards. There may be other metrics to assess how interventions can support producers and their resilience. 

Vava Coffee and its partners are using social media to share stories from producers to get their voices out.

Kenya is not a coffee consuming country and Vava Coffee is also encouraging local consumption – which may help to increase producer incomes.

Additional resources

The webinar was part of IIED’s Empowering Producers in Commercial agriculture (EPIC) initiative, funded by UK Aid from the UK government through its Commercial Agriculture for Smallholders and Agribusiness (CASA) programme.  EPIC aims to empower rural producers and wider communities to influence public decisions and private sector conduct for locally beneficial and more sustainable investments in commercial agriculture.

IIED Debates

IIED Debates create a space for conversation on key and current sustainable development issues. 

This series of events offers insight into the world’s most pressing challenges and creates an opportunity to debate and explore solutions.

Through the convening of expert speakers and external stakeholders, IIED brings together an international community to discuss critical issues. By increasing our reach we hope to listen to and learn from broader audiences and perspectives and together move the agenda forward.

IIED Debates encompass both physical and digital events, including critical themes, breakfast debriefs and webinars. These events are public and are hosted regularly throughout the year in our London and Edinburgh offices and online. See a full list of events.

Learn more

Subscribe to our events newsletter for regular updates and contribute to the conversation through social media with #IIEDdebates.Recordings

Watch a playlist of videos of the events in the IIED Debates series below and on IIED's YouTube channel.  



 

From superheroes to the clitoris: 5 scientists tell the stories behind these species names

Biodiversity News - Mon, 03/08/2020 - 20:59
From a Hugh Jackman-esque spider to honouring traditional Indigenous words, these species have memorable names. Anthea Batsakis, Deputy Editor: Environment + Energy, The Conversation Licensed as Creative Commons – attribution, no derivatives.

Giant panda conservation is failing to revive the wider ecosystem – new study

Biodiversity News - Mon, 03/08/2020 - 16:12
Pandas have done more to raise awareness of biodiversity loss than any other species. But they may not be good at stopping it themselves. Jason Gilchrist, Ecologist, Edinburgh Napier University Licensed as Creative Commons – attribution, no derivatives.

Five years of building climate negotiators’ capacity: lessons from the field

The European Capacity Building Initiative (ecbi), launched in 2005, aims to build and sustain capacity among developing country negotiators in the UN climate change negotiations and foster trust between both developed and developing country negotiators.

IIED is a lead partner in ecbi with Oxford Climate Policy and Legal Response International, and works with strategic partners ENDA Energie and the Women’s Environment & Development Organization. IIED delivers the training and support programme, the most recent phase of which ran from November 2015 until May 2020.

ecbi gave me everything. You know how you go to a shop and you buy a bicycle? ecbi gave me the bike, the helmet, I have no excuses to not act. I’m expected to use it. – female training participant's workshop feedback

Here we review the past five years, reflecting on the lessons we have learned and how the programme has evolved.

Training developing country delegates to engage in climate negotiations

Through regional workshops, IIED and partners build capacity to engage in international climate decision-making processes, so delegates are better equipped to negotiate.

Every year, a training workshop is held under the European Capacity Building Initiative (ecbi) Training and Support Programme before the Conference of the Parties (COP) negotiations plus three regional workshops – for Francophone Africa, Anglophone Africa, and Asia and the Pacific. The aim of these events is to improve participants’ knowledge of the international climate decision-making process, so that they can engage in it effectively once they reach the United Nations.

Over five years and 17 workshops, more than 300 participants have attended our training and put the knowledge and skills gained into practice. With experience, we identified three best practices for achieving this aim:

  • Participants benefit by learning from regional experts – peers who’ve become lead United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiators themselves
  • Participants should have the opportunity to practice their negotiating skills in as real-life an environment as possible, and
  • Participants can cement their learning through continued participation.
Regional expertise

Officials trained by ecbi have risen to become senior negotiators in the UNFCCC process, as well as leaders of regional groups and of UNFCCC bodies and committees. Some have become ministers and envoys in their home countries.

These ecbi alumni are now capacity builders themselves, aiding the initiative's efforts to train the next generation of negotiators

One example is Mamadou Honadia, who has more than 20 years' experience of international climate negotiations and is the former head of Burkina Faso's delegation.

During the 2016 UN climate talks in Marrakech, he still valued the opportunity to share his experiences. At the time, he worked in the Prime Minister's office in Burkina Faso, dealing with the Green Climate Fund. He said: "I think it's very important because other people are still vulnerable to climate change. We are poor countries. We still need some strong young fellows to continue the fight we have started."

Mamadou Honadia speaks about the importance of training young LDC negotiators

At the training workshops, junior negotiators and national policymakers enhance their understanding of the UNFCCC’s key topics, as presented by these regional experts – senior government officials, experienced climate negotiators and their advisors. 

Senior negotiator @StellaGama highlights the importance of ⁦@UNFCCC⁩ to Africa ⁦@ecbioxford⁩ 2019 training workshop in Addis. ⁦@OxfordClimate@iied@legalresponse⁩ ⁦@EndaEnergiepic.twitter.com/9XEsmzqqVA

— European Capacity Building Initiative (@ecbioxford) May 3, 2019

In addition, the annual pre-COP training workshops are opened by the chair of the Least Developed Countries Group and focus on issues important to countries particularly vulnerable to climate change. 

Mock negotiations

In response to positive feedback from participants, the training workshops have grown to incorporate several practical negotiating skills sessions. These include a practical skills session where an experienced negotiator describes ‘what to do’ and ‘what not to do’, and mock negotiations that allow participants to practice negotiating together with experienced LDC negotiators. 

A mock negotiation session run by ecbi in 2017

Mock negotiation sessions allow participants to take the floor and try their hand at representing their country. Most delegates have not yet spoken at the UN climate talks. The simulation gives them the chance to practice their skills in English in a UNFCCC-like environment. 

Negotiating a group position on whether ⁦@UNFCCC⁩ COPs should be annual results in some eye-rolling at the @ecbi 2019 Anglophone Africa training workshop ⁦@OxfordClimate@iied@legalresponse⁩ ⁦@endaenergylinks⁩ ⁦@EndaEnergiepic.twitter.com/bBbip93zA0

— European Capacity Building Initiative (@ecbioxford) May 3, 2019

Participants say that these mock negotiation sessions give them tangible insights into what to expect at the negotiations.

[The training] made me confident in raising the flag of Rwanda, able to support the African Group positions. Training made me understand it’s not enough to make a statement and make your position; you have to speak up and raise your position, otherwise, other people will make position. It made me able to address the big countries — Canada, USA — and say no, I support the African Group. – female training participant  

To present your argument clearly to convince your colleagues to follow your idea or follow you. Soften up: you don’t have to say I only want this; no – it’s a give and take process. You need to be flexible enough. – male training participant 

[Without the training] I wouldn’t be much aware of the negotiations groupings, the sensitivity. When it comes to the negotiations there are not just skills, but so many sensitive issues. You are dealing with sovereign nations – these skills are not really written, but you can learn them through the training workshop with experienced negotiators. – female training participant

Continued participation 

Over time, it also became clear that capacity strengthening must be an iterative process. One-off attempts to train delegates were less successful, and participants described them as awareness-raising rather than capacity-building exercises. 

Participant interviews and feedback told us that our efforts could be improved by continued participation – so that negotiators could keep building up their knowledge and experience and plan ahead. 

As a result, since the 2017 workshops we have invited participants to attend a second time. The returning participants were better prepared to engage in the mock negotiations, share lessons with their peers and delve into the subject matter.   

Tailored publications

A series of guidebooks produced by the European Capacity Building Initiative (ecbi) and bespoke dissemination practices support the training of UN climate negotiators from developing countries.

An understanding of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a required foundation for negotiators. But there’s a lot to learn. Over the past five years, we’ve written a guidebook series tailored for those new to the process, and have disseminated it in a variety of formats accessible to our participants.

Pocket guides

Since there is limited time in the training workshops to go into detail on each negotiation topic, we developed a series of pocket guides. These easily accessible reference documents aim to inform primarily new negotiators from developing countries, and participants of the ecbi training workshops in particular but have also been used by delegations from developed countries.

They are written in simple, clear language, and follow a question-and-answer format designed to quickly address the reader’s needs. A number of these guides have also been translated into French and some are regularly updated to reflect the most recent developments.

The series was developed from 2017 to cover most of the topics negotiated in the UNFCCC, as well as its major agreements. They include the:

The full list of pocket guides and other ecbi publications is available on the ecbi project page.

Some of the publications produced by ecbi (Photo: Matt Wright, IIED) 

Dissemination

All publications under the training and support programme are available and free for download on ecbi and IIED’s websites, as well as other partners’ websites, such as the Climate Ambition Support Alliance (CASA).

What does the #ParisAgreement and #rulebook say about #transparency? Read our 2019 updated #ClimatePocketGuide on Transparency, now including the outcomes of #COP24, to know your ICAs from your BTRs, and FSVs from FMCPs: https://t.co/u0t0TFxmTI @harrovanasselt @RomainWeikmans pic.twitter.com/C9ap1pns09

— European Capacity Building Initiative (@ecbioxford) June 10, 2019

Each publication is promoted by being posted out to contacts and on social media. In order to maximise our reach we have also translated a number of them, including the Pocket Guide to the Paris Agreement, into French – the working language of our regional training workshop in Francophone Africa.

Beyond publications, we have recorded popular presentations from our workshops, sending them out with French subtitles in advance of workshops, so they can be shared widely and to allow participants to watch them in their own location and learn at their own pace.

In one of the most valued presentations at the workshops, Ian Fry, Tuvalu's Ambassador for Climate Change and Environment, explained some of the systems and terminology used in the UNFCCC negotiations, and passed on a series of tips from his extensive experience (Photo: Matt Wright, IIED)

However, we’ve also learnt that a lot of our workshop participants struggle with internet connections, due to no fault of their own. This has hindered their ability to access information and learn.

In response, we have prioritised printing publications and distributing USB sticks at workshops that contain all the presentations and publications, and these measures have increased dissemination to our target audience of developing country negotiators and helped build their capacity.

The ecbi paper [on Article 6] was useful in the preparation of the COP25 for the African Group as it served as a basis for some presentations such as the implication of the corresponding adjustment to avoid double counting. It also helped some delegates to better understand the general status of Article 6. – Mbaye Diagne, Lead Article 6 negotiator from Senegal

Upon the publication of the 'Pocket guide to the Paris Agreement', the first in the series, the prime minister of Fiji, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, who presided over COP23 at the time, expressed his appreciation saying the guide "offers a very practical means to appreciate the key provisions and objectives of the Paris Agreement. It is certainly an excellent guide which was very handy for leaders, politicians and experts alike".

The ecbi publications continue to be appreciated by negotiators both new and seasoned. The current chair of the Least Developed Countries Group, Sonam P. Wangdi of Bhutan, said: “I find your publications extremely useful, especially the simplification of substantive elements of the UNFCCC negotiations.”

Fostering regional collaboration and national implementation

Joint climate negotiation workshops allow country delegates to collaborate and exchange regional knowledge, so climate change issues become an integral part of policymaking across government ministries.

The European Capacity Building Initiative (ecbi) training workshops attract UN climate negotiators, many of whom spend most of their time acting as national policymakers. The information they gain there is useful to their role of translating international outcomes into national level implementation, as is the sharing with one another of their own experience in that area.

Our regional workshops are natural conduits for this exchange; a practice we’ve sought to enhance.

Bridging days

By facilitating discussions between the participants representing 15-plus countries at the regional training workshops, we can guide an exchange of experiences on national implementation.

Since 2017, the regional workshops in Africa have taken this a step further by bringing together the Anglophone and Francophone sessions to share lessons related to accessing finance and developing climate policies.

This was accomplished by arranging for the regional training workshops for Anglophone and Francophone Africa to be held during the same week. This allows for an extra day between the workshops – a bridging day – that brings together both groups and extends the length of the workshops at limited cost.

These events foster collaboration in the targeted regions and help ensure climate change issues become an integral part of thinking across government ministries.

Given the post-2020 shift to national implementation, we have also emphasised the two-way nexus between the negotiations and domestic policy – the negotiations must be guided by what implementation requires, and implementation needs to understand what the negotiations imply.

As part of the bridging day, we facilitate peer-to-peer exchanges by starting with “speed networking” to introduce workshop participants to each other.

This week in #AddisAbaba, 60 junior Least Developed Countries delegates are training for the upcoming UN #climatechange negotiations. The Francophone and Anglophone groups came together for some speed networking today. @endaenergylinks @ecbioxford @legalresponse @LDCChairUNFCCC pic.twitter.com/X9zsXqeLlI

— Brianna Craft (@pbnclimate) May 1, 2019

And at the end of the regional workshops, we hold small sessions of the thematic groups, where participants are encouraged to think through how they will keep in touch and support one another at the negotiations and after the workshop ends. This is mentioned in the diary written by workshop attendee Danise Love Dennis, from Liberia, who refers to the launch of a ’Junior Negotiators Bloc’ to improve cooperation and information sharing between junior negotiators from developing countries.

Building our regional partners’ capacity

The European Capacity Building Initiative (ecbi) collaborates with organisations in developing countries to train participants from the region. Our longest partnership is with Enda Energie, which has organised workshops in East and West Africa.

Since 2016, ecbi has worked in close collaboration with partners to organise the regional training workshops. These include the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) in Bangladesh; the Environment and Protection Management Services (EPMS) in Tanzania; Janathakshan in Sri Lanka; and the Prakriti Resources Centre (PRC) in Nepal.

Our regional partners have actively contributed to shaping the strategy for the ecbi training and support programme. We work together to train participants from the region, with the oversight of the appropriate government ministries. 

Today starts the #ecbi 2 day regional training workshop for Asia Pacific junior negotiators from #developing countries. The w/shop funded by #iied and #SIDA works towards sustained capacity building of #climatechange negotiators. #ClimateMatters #ItMatters #EveryCityMatters pic.twitter.com/cR6Vw3w9T9

— Janathakshan Gte Ltd (@Janathakshan) June 6, 2018

Our closest and longest collaborator is Enda Energie in Senegal. It has successfully expanded its capacity to deliver and chair regional training workshops for both Francophone and Anglophone Africa.

Enda Energie has organised these workshops in East and West Africa, collaborating with the governments of Senegal and Ethiopia.

Targeting support to women

The European Capacity Building Initiative (ecbi) Training and Support Programme aims to increase female participation in training workshops, support more women to attend the UN climate negotiations and track participants’ involvement in the negotiations themselves.

One of the aims of the training and support programme was to see women negotiators become more active in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process. To do this, we directly supported women to attend the climate negotiations.

In parallel, we also worked to achieve gender-balanced training workshops and tracked our participants’ involvement in the UN climate negotiations.

Direct support to women

Our programme enabled us to offer bursaries to selected junior negotiators to help them become experts in the negotiating process. Recipients were women from the least developed countries – the group that has the largest gender imbalance in the UNFCCC attendance overall.

We provided logistical support to allow women who had participated in relatively few UNFCCC sessions to attend the climate negotiations. These ‘junior negotiators’ joined their peers for daily check-ins, where they learned from IIED staff and each other about the complex UNFCCC process and how to integrate into the appropriate negotiating blocs.

Xaysomphone Souvannavong, of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, contributes to the discussion at a workshop before COP23 in Bonn in 2017, (Image: Matt Wright, IIED)

Bursary recipients such as Xaysomphone Souvannavong and Fatima Athoumani were also encouraged to document their experiences and the lessons they had learned by writing blogs that charted the sharp learning curve of an LDC negotiator and how they learned to make their voice count at the UN climate negotiations. 

Among this group was Danise Love Dennis, from Liberia, who wrote a diary about her year-long learning journey – from the ecbi training to negotiating for her country at COP25, which was hosted by Chile in Madrid, Spain.

Other bursary recipients have explained how the training and support programme has helped them improve their preparation for and participation in the negotiations.

I think I have a better understanding now of how to go to negotiations and I know how to prepare. For example, it takes a certain type of language. Clear, consistent, coherent. – female training participant, bursary holder

Gender-balanced workshops to increase women’s participation

During our regional training workshops in 2016, we noticed we weren’t seeing equal numbers of male and female participants. Like the UN climate negotiations themselves, most of the delegates the governments elected to send were men.

In response, we revamped our approach. In the invitation letters, we made clear the importance of nominating a gender-balanced group of participants. At the end of each workshop, we distributed certificates stating the skills the participants had gained and invited them back to attend the following year.

With these efforts, each year we attracted more female participants to our workshops. A review of our work between 2016 and 2018 showed promising results: we trained the same number of women and men.

Hellen Wilson Tom, of Vanuatu, and Elda Cesaltina da Costa Guterres, from Timor Leste receive certificates at the end of an ecbi training workshop in Nepal in 2019 (Photo: copyright Prakriti Resources Centre)

After five years of workshops, 48% of our participants were female. When we compared this against the ratios in the negotiations process as a whole, using the UNFCCC ‘Report on gender composition’(PDF) that in 2019 stated that 37% of delegates were women, we saw that the ecbi training and support programme is surpassing the gender balance of the negotiations process overall, and helping increase the chances that women can be part of their countries’ delegations at the international climate negotiations. 

Tracking participation in negotiations 

Equipping delegates with the skills they need to participate in the UN climate negotiations is just half the story. We also wanted to see how many of our participants, having been trained, were put forward to represent their country at the international negotiations. Were the rates different for men and women?

In 2019, Brianna Craft and Samantha McCraine looked at how well women are represented in spaces where international decisions on climate change are made, and in 2020, the duo detailed further efforts to bring more women to the UN climate change negotiations.

We scoured UNFCCC attendance lists and found that around half of those we had trained, and equal numbers of women and men, went on to join their country delegations.

The key to meaningful engagement is continuity, so we also tracked who participated in multiple sessions of the climate negotiations.

Again, of the men and women we trained, the number chosen to continually participate was relatively equal: 19 of the women we trained (24%) attended two or more negotiating sessions, compared to the 31 men we trained (30%) who attended more than twice. Notably, the three participants who attended all seven UNFCCC negotiations from 2016-18 were men.

IIED senior researcher Brianna Craft, right, presents research at the UNFCCC gender workshop in Bonn in June 2019 (Photo: copyright Jennifer Jun)