Mixing ministries for building capacities

Participants at the recent NDC training discussed climate finance, greenhouse gas measurement, and meeting adaptation goals. Photo: L. Cramer (CCAFS)
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Apr 23, 2018


Laura Cramer (CCAFS)


“It’s not about doing different things, it’s about doing things differently.”

– Zerihun Getu, Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation, Ethiopia.

This idea of doing things differently came up twice in a recent workshop organized by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) held in Nairobi between 10 and 12 April. The event brought together diverse ministry staff for discussions on topics including climate finance, greenhouse gas (GHG) measurement, and meeting adaptation goals. Through support by the German Development Cooperation (GIZ),  the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) developed an eight-module training course on implementing agricultural components of what is known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). NDCs are commitments that countries make to the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC) on how they will cut GHGs and adapt to climate change.

NEPAD invited staff members from the Ministries of Agriculture, Environment, Finance and Planning from Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda to participate in the workshop. Participants came from a range of backgrounds and experiences. Some were well-versed in their country’s NDC submission, while others found themselves immersed in a relatively new topic. This range of experiences fostered a great deal of cross-country and cross-ministry exchange over the three-day workshop.

Agriculture within the NDCs

The topic of NDC implementation within agriculture is critical for many African countries, because not only do farmers need to adapt to the impact that climate change is making on crops and livestock, but agriculture is often the country’s main source of GHG emissions. NDCs encompass other sectors such as transport and energy, but agriculture is unique because it is a huge driver of many economies in Africa south of the Sahara and is a two-way street when it comes to climate change.

Many Member States had requested assistance from NEPAD on NDC implementation, and this training is the start to answering those requests. NEPAD, GIZ and CCAFS joined forces to enable participants to come together for fruitful discussions on ways to engage with the private sector for achieving NDC targets, to access public and private climate finance, and to foster inclusive local processes that include gender considerations, youth, and other marginalized groups.

How does this relate to doing things differently? The first time this idea arose was during a discussion about climate-smart agriculture (CSA). The term has grown in popularity over the past few years, but for some people, it is still an abstract concept and some of the practices considered to be CSA might seem like typical agricultural development practices. The presenter for the CSA module was Rima Al-Azar, leader for CSA in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations' (FAO) Climate and Environment Division. After a lively discussion between several people in the room, Zerihun Getu from Ethiopia summarized the discussion.

Although some of the practices are the same as what has been done in the past, what distinguishes CSA is that practices are now implemented, policies revised, and institutions strengthened all with the aim of meeting the climate change challenge, therefore qualifying those actions as CSA.

Greater than the sum of the parts

The theme resurfaced near the end of the third day when participants were discussing the challenges of coordinating across ministries. Meeting NDC commitments and reporting requirements will entail collaboration within and among ministries. The NDC commitments are not standalone goals within countries; they must be integrated into other national development priorities such as Kenya’s Vision 2030 and Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economy strategy.

Governments have been collecting statistics previously within agriculture, have existing mechanisms for budgeting, and have been working with international donors and finance. Collecting data on GHG emissions and tracking climate finance flows will not require ministries to do different things, but it will require them to do those things differently. For example, they will need greater coordination mechanisms and new ways of engaging the private sector. These are not impossible tasks, but they require deliberate effort and political will.

As George Wamukoya, facilitator of the African Group of Negotiators (AGN), put it during one of the closing discussions,

You must contribute to the change.”

Future training plans

GIZ, NEPAD, and CCAFS will continue to work together to provide a second training in West Africa, to be scheduled for September. We will use feedback from the East African participants to improve the modules and mode of delivery. We are also discussing the possibility of national level workshops with greater numbers of participants, although this is subject to funding availability. We also plan to make the materials publicly available online for use by others.

Stay tuned to the CCAFS website for more information by the end of the year.

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