• Thursday, Apr 09, 2020
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Grass roots action

  • Published at 09:55 pm March 18th, 2020

Knowledge producers partnering with change makers on the ground

In its 6th year, the annual Gobeshona Conference went international with more than 70 international participants coming from both least developed and developed countries. The two major groups among these participants were representatives of Grass-roots and 2050 Collectives and Least Developed Countries University Consortium on Climate Change (LUCCC). 

To make the best use of having all these international participants from different countries with the same agenda, ICCCAD has organized different side events along with its regular scientific research and policy dialogue days. One of such side events were the “Grass-roots and 2050 Collectives Planning Workshop,” which was a half day workshop that took place on January 21 at the main Gobeshona Conference venue. 

The main two groups of participants in this workshop were the LUCCC group and the Grass-roots group. LUCCC, a south-south collaborative network of 10 universities of Asia and Africa has been established to enhance capacity on climate change in all 47 LDCs through education, research and training to enable them to adapt effectively to the adverse impacts of climate change. The Grass-roots and the 2050 Collectives on the other hand is a platform created for grass-roots organizations to find a common message which can help to bring recognition, voice and influence for the grass-roots. 

With initial exchange of ideas starting from 2009, the first planning meeting of the 2050 Collectives was carried out in CBA13 at Addis Ababa with support from Global Resilience Partnership (GRP). After a couple of virtual dialogues, the first planning workshop took place at the London Climate Week where capabilities, resources, long term vision and research priorities were identified followed by a strong presence at the Climate Summit in September, 2019. Since then, this group has been working to make the voices, needs, priorities and interests of grass-roots fully considered and recognized in climate decision making at all levels.

The basic idea of bringing these two groups together was to create a two way learning process where the grass-roots representatives will highlight how their organizations and grass-roots communities at large, play a major role in resilience building; LUCCC representatives on the other hand can understand the community perspective and help build their capacity by providing technical and scientific support. 

To start with the discussion between these two groups, it was important to understand the organizational development capacity of the Grass-roots as well as their focus on climate change and resilience building. By working collectively, the 2050 Collectives platform has chalked out the elements which the Grass-roots want to catalyze by working together; which are- collaborative partnerships, voice and power, influence, recognition and participation, and strengthening individual and collective capabilities. 

The overarching goal behind all these activities is to change the narrative of grass-roots communities being victims of climate change and establish and prepare them as change makers. Capacity building of communities and translating their work at the international level is an integral part of this process. The provision of skill, knowledge and resources directly on the ground is one way of strengthening capacities. While undertaking all the capacity building interventions, they come across few challenges, such as writing proposals and access to funds on the ground, which becomes difficult especially while working with the global north. 

To overcome this challenge, developing the capacity of local researchers about international requirements and processes is important. Development of leadership skills among the community members and especially among women is also crucial. Transforming grass-roots women as leaders, four interlocking elements should be looked at- investment in organizing leadership building workshops, having enough space and resources to take actions, innovations and experiments to build relationships and networks and a comprehensive framework which looks into all the issues of scale. 

Dissemination of learnings and information among the grass-roots is also an important element on which the grass-roots organizations are working on through a participatory integrated community development approach. Governance is also an integral part of the process and when it is not ensured properly, the organizations undertake alternative strategies to get things done.  

While the Grass-roots play a vital role in community based adaptation and overall resilience building, they also come across an array of challenges and gaps. Through this workshop, the two groups worked together to identify the needs and requirements of the grassroots communities in different parts of the world and brainstormed potential opportunities to accommodate all the needs in order to present concrete action points. 

The most talked about needs of the grass-roots were for development of effective enumeration tools to highlight and showcase their works, availability of climate related data and development of concrete scientific methodologies of doing research and converting them into actions, ensure access to climate finance at the local level, and establishment of a good platform where all the relevant organizations can meet periodically and discuss collective actions. 

The range of supports which the LUCCC group have identified to provide are: accumulation of information from the ground and document different stories from the grass-roots, development of scientific methodologies for research which can be easily used by the communities, creation of knowledge space for both parties and hold seminars, workshops and dialogues for knowledge production. In terms of ensuring access to climate finance at the local level, use of existing or newly formed federations to access climate finance can be a very good option. Exploring Public-Private Partnership (PPP) opportunities can also be an effective way of creating a sustainable model which will lead to evidence based results and ensure investments. 

With this ongoing discussion, these two groups plan to sit together in the upcoming CBA14 at Bangkok in May 2020 for identifying further ways of collaboration and development of a road map for 2020 of the 2050 Collectives. 

Shahrin Mannan currently works as a Senior Research Officer at the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD). Her research interest lies in community-based adaptation, gender and climate change, and sustainable development.