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DM2009 Finalist and Government: A Disconnect?

Tom Grubisich's picture

In the quickly evolving world of adaptation to climate change in developing countries, staying connected is critically important to the DM2009 finalists, both winners and non-winners.  As Aleem Walji, the new Practice Manager at the World Bank Institute, said in a recent mini-interview on this blog: "What can we do to connect these hundred finalists to everyone who we know who can help them go forward -- funders, capacitybuilders, past DM winners, each other. The real power is in networks and linking communities of practice. Our comparative advantage at the Bank is our ability to convene people and create connections between the DM community, other parts of the Bank (lending operations, for example), jurors, winners, and finalists, past and present. The power of that community could be muchgreater than any prize we can award."

It is very likely that funding for climate adaptation funding in developing countries -- particularly the 49 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) -- will increase significantly in the wake of the U.N.-sponsored international climate change negotiations that begin next week in Copenhagen.  One impetus will be new documentation of the need in coming decades -- US$100 billion annually, according to a new World Bank analysis.  Another is that the National Adaptation Programs of Action that have been produced by most of the LDCs are moving to the implementation stage. 

Can the DM2009 finalists who didn't win connect with their countries' NAPAs?  In many cases, the fit would seem to be perfect -- the big picture provided by the national government and all-important community focus by (mostly) community-based NGOs and entrepreneurs.   But government bureaucracies can put up walls that prevent that from happening.  The predicament was detailed in a 2008 World Bank report, which looked at the situation in rural communities, where most adaptation in developing communities has to take place, almost everyone agrees: "Despite the critical role of local informal institutions in rural communities' adaptation, they are rarely supported by government and external intervention."

I received this email today from Nazrul Islam (photo at left), Country Director in Bangladesh for RELIEF International, who was one of the five finalists -- all non-winners -- from Bangladesh:

"Since I came back to Bangladesh from the DM, I have been finding ways to locate resources and partners to continue this project. I am also trying to get in touch with the relevant agencies with the govt of Bangladesh dealing with the NAPA. Certainly we would love to be part of the NAPA since my project perfectly fits into the government's current agenda to educate people about the climate change. Since the government agencies themselves will implement most of the projects, I am afraid it would be little challenging for civil society organizations to join directly in this NAPA . Nonetheless, we can continue to interact with the government agencies and encourage them to take benefits of the expertise many CSOs have developed over the years to tackle the climate change. I also thought the World Bank's country office in Bangladesh could possibly join us in advocating for these five finalist projects and help us motivate the government to integrate these projects into the NAPA."

The RELIEF International project would help local media publish news that educates millions of their readers, listeners, and viewers in low-lying areas about flooding and other risks that climate change brings and how they can better protect themselves when disaster strikes.  Project details are specific in contrast to the more general language of the US$7,050,000 education project that Bangladesh has included in its NAPA.

Let's see what the World Bank can do about creating productive connections between RELIEF Interntional and the Bangladesh government, and, maybe other finalists and governments.

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