ICLEI South Asia and SouthSouthNorth (SSN), under the Climate Development Knowledge Network-Knowledge Accelerator (CDKN-KA) project, organised three sessions over a fortnight in October during the Daring Cities 2020, a virtual global forum, to deliberate on the need to bridge the gap between knowledge and action.
Given the climate urgency, the sessions discussed possible ways to strengthen the knowledge brokering programme to be able to support informed and evidence-based decisions.
The first session convened experts and practitioners to discuss ‘Knowledge brokering for climate compatible development’. It was moderated by Shehnaaz Moosa, SSN, and Director of the CDKN programme, who said knowledge brokering encompasses a wide range of activities that go beyond producing knowledge products, often including invisible actions such as building relationships and trust, linking, synthesising, knowledge translating, packaging and communicating.
Lisa McNamara, Programme Manager, SSN, highlighted that it was critical to producing knowledge in a participatory and legitimate way to ensure its technical robustness and credibility, and hence to maximise uptake. It is important to identify entry points into the decision-making system while responding within a particular window of opportunity to do effective knowledge brokering.
Chris Gordon, Country Engagement Lead, CDKN Ghana, University of Ghana, shared the perspective from Africa. He rightly put the focus on a very important fact that while getting the buy-in from top authority was important, it was more important to get ownership from the technical experts responsible for translating knowledge into actions. He shared his experience of creating a platform for effective communication between technical officers, breaking the existing silos, for effective actions on the ground. Co-development and co-designing of knowledge products with end-users ensures that they resonate with the target audience.
Atishi Singh, MLA and Chairperson of the Environment Committee, Delhi State Government, highlighted the need to make proposed environment solutions citizen-centric and incentivised to ensure their successful implementation. She shared the experience of the state government in subsidising electricity tariffs, managing the water supply and implementing the odd-even car rationing plan in winters to combat air pollution in Delhi.
Nivedita Mani, Secretary, Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group, shared her experience of knowledge brokering for bridging governance and capacity gaps to ensure gender and social inclusion in the peri-urban ecosystem and resilience planning. Collaborating with strategic institutions, leaders, and champions was the key to ensuring policy mainstreaming, she said.
The second session ‘Financing climate compatible development’ was organised to discuss various opportunities for sustainable and greener recovery. Joanne Manda, Climate Finance Specialist, UNDP, facilitated the session. Yolando Velasco, Manager, Climate Finance, UNFCCC Secretariat, brought global perspectives regarding the financing needs of cities, and sub-national and national governments. He stressed that there was a need to diversify resources portfolio and strategically use different sources of climate finance from public, private, domestic, and international sources. No single source of finance is enough to meet the needs of cities; there is a need to leverage a mix of finances through blended financing mechanisms. He emphasised the lack of awareness and capacity among officials to access funding, and the need to bridge the knowledge gap.
Fazle Rabbi Sadeque Ahmed, Director, Environment & Climate Change, Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation, gave a snapshot of the climate finance scenario in Bangladesh and raised the important issue of tracking climate finance expenditure to understand the gaps and bottlenecks in accessing funds from sources like the Green Climate Fund (GCF). He said there was a need to leverage every player and sector to access funds to be able to meet the ambitious targets set by the country.
Ronald Mukanya, Director, Sustainability Management, Western Cape Government, reiterated that the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic had further highlighted the deep vulnerabilities and unpreparedness of governments. “Innovative financing mechanisms are needed to meet the large investment needs of a transformative green and inclusive recovery,” he said, adding that “governance mechanisms should foster and incentivise investments to be routed towards sustainable infrastructure, green jobs and environmental resilience”. Opportunities to use public spending as a lever to respond to socio-economic and environmental risks should be explored. Procurement policies should drive green growth, and the public and private sectors should work together to promote green and sustainable economies.
The third session on ‘Climate knowledge brokering: Voices from the frontline’ highlighted the joint initiative of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and CDKN to bring stories and voices from the frontline across the globe, where grassroots groups have been proactive in responding to the pandemic. The session was facilitated by Michelle du Toit, SSN.
Dr. Saleemul Haque, ICCCAD, Bangladesh, deliberated on the value and impact of locally-led adaptation. Ms. Rose Molokoane, Shack Dwellers International, shared stories highlighting the importance of social actions in responding to the pandemic. Ms. Syeda Mehzebin Rahman, Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA), Guwahati, India, highlighted the dual responses of communities during floods and the pandemic, while Ms. Sarah Nandudu, Shack Dwellers Federation of Uganda, shared her experience on developing partnerships with the government to combat COVID-19.
Summing up, Dr. Deon Nel, CEO, Global Resilience Partnership, said that as we moved towards a post-pandemic society, our focus should be to ‘build back better’ with collective efforts coming from all sectors of society, including decision-makers, policymakers, practitioners, and community-based organisations, besides grassroots organisations and citizens.
The discussions in all the sessions were followed by interactions with participants. The sessions were well received and attended by more than 70 participants from across the globe.