There is a laser-like focus on the capacity of developing countries to respond effectively to the steep challenges of their Millennium Development Goals and
Ethiopian farmer, with his children, shows newly irrigated crop to extension agent.
destructive climate change. Capacity gaps are relentlessly pinpointed. Sometimes national governments themselves provide the toughest evaluations, like this one from Bangladesh's Ministry of Environment and Forest on the country's climate adaptation action program:
"...institutional capacity including human resource quality [is] weak and poor and needs substantial improvement if the challenges of climate change are to be faced squarely....A lack of awareness, both of the potential gravity and the extent of the problem as well as possible actions that could be taken, is the foremost [barrier]. This lack of awareness exists at all levels from national level policy makers to sectoral and local level officials as well as amongst civil society and the most vulnerable communities themselves...."
There are, to be sure, capacity gaps in Bangladesh and other developing countries, and identifying what and where they are is the first step in closing them. But there are also "bright spots" and, perhaps more important, underlying strengths, especially at the local level across all developing countries that can be masked by the emphasis on gaps.