Traditionally, capacity-building activities followed a “north–south” modality. Meaning that developing partners and institutions from the North (developed countries) provide support and training to the South (developing countries).
However, this modality has been scrutinized for not properly developing the institutional capacity of southern agencies (eg public officials, civil society, and NGOs) working in the development and environment sectors. In recent times, the new model of “capacity building” is to develop long-term support to develop the capacity of themselves and enhance their abilities to sustain these activities in a more systemic and effective manner. This has further been underpinned by the adoption of Article 11 of the Paris Agreement that reaffirmed the imperative of capacity building and climate education to effectively implement climate action.
Therefore, the old pattern of getting knowledge support from the developed countries has been shifted to a new pattern that offer mutual learning opportunities.
In the new world of International Climate Finance, the experiences of developing countries is vital in accessing and delivering funds in response to climate change impacts (adaptation) and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation). The climate finance is “an old wine in a new bottle but the bottle is very important,” said by Dr Saleemul Huq -- and to understand the dynamics of it, he emphasized on the collaborative learning and exchange of knowledge between north and south.
However, many developing countries, with Bangladesh at the forefront, have already demonstrated a wide range of capacities in accessing climate finance. This supports the notion of South-North-South collaboration which will eventually translate into concrete results in the ground.
Bangladesh has been a champion in climate change adaptation for a long time and very recently, have made remarkable progress in accessing international climate finance, particularly the Green Climate Fund (GCF). These successes have made an impact within the international forum, and have opened the door for Bangladesh and the country’s growing number of development actors to share their experience and knowledge with other countries of the world (including the North). This knowledge is not unique to Bangladesh, but is something that most developing countries have gained over their historic practices of dealing with development partners and sovereign agencies.
Collaboration between ICCCAD and HELVETAS Swiss Inter-cooperation
A recent advancement has been exhibited by the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), a research institution based on Bangladesh, in responding towards the institutional capacity development of HELVETAS Swiss Inter-cooperation.
HELVETAS is an international network of independent affiliate member organizations working in the field of development cooperation and emergency response. They have been operating in about 30 countries around the world. They organized a training on Climate Finance in Zurich from March 5-9 of 2018. We have jointly developed the course module and facilitated the sessions as resource persons.
The training was led by Dr Saleemul Huq, Director of ICCCAD and senior fellow at IIED, a global authority on the topic who has been assisting developing country negotiators and finance ministers in climate negotiations and climate finance. The target participants are country directors and senior program staffs involved in acquisitions and/or managing and establishing new partnerships with government and other stakeholders.
During the event, there were participants from 11 different countries including Bangladesh, Bolivia, Honduras, India, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Tajikistan, and Vietnam. The objectives of the training was to make HELVETAS country senior staffs familiarized with the current Climate Finance landscape, main multilateral funds, institutions and financing mechanisms -- to sensitize them for the importance of country ownership and private sector involvement and to provide hands-on experience on GCF Proposal Development.
The major outcome of the training course was to identify main opportunities and the potential role of Helvetas with regard to Climate Finance and for each region/country to develop concrete actions to access Climate Finance in the short and medium term.
Besides the training course, Dr Huq gave a public lecture in an event titled “Implementing the Paris Agreement: Perspectives from Least Developed Countries,” organized by ETH Zurich, NADEL -- Center for Development and Cooperation in association with HELVETAS. This event presented more insight into some of the challenges the world’s poorest countries face in the aftermath of the Paris Agreement and highlighted the opportunities for the international community to help address the challenges. Dr Huq portrayed Bangladesh as one of the climate victims, hence, the most resilient country in the world that provides a learning opportunity for other countries.
The discussion during the training workshop went very well. It followed through a common consensus in developing the capacity building that will require collaboration across geographic, political, sectoral, disciplinary, and other boundaries. Dr Huq emphasized the critical role of universities in harnessing the knowledge and to build the long term capacity to deal with climate change. He also mentioned the initiatives called “LDC Universities Consortium on Climate Change (LUCCC),” a South-South consortium of 10 universities from the region to enhance knowledge on climate change through climate capacity building and invited HELVETAS to get engaged with such initiatives to make it more global and to promote south-south and north-south collaboration.
Rupa Mukerji, Co-Head Advisory Services, HELVETAS, has agreed to the necessity of the north-south collaboration and is looking forward to making a follow up plan in near future.
Yousuf Mahid, Programme Coordinator, ICCCAD and Saqib Huq, Programme Coordinator, ICCCAD.