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How can development prepare for future change and uncertainty?

Time (GMT +00) 16:30 18:00

Dr Eva Ludi – Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute


Dr Duncan Green – Senior Strategy Advisor, Oxfam GB

Lindsey Jones – Research Officer, Overseas Development Institute

Dr Rosalind Cornforth – NERC knowledge exchange fellow and research scientist, University of Reading


Saskia Daggett – International coordinator, Africa Climate Change Resilience Alliance


A public event held at ODI on 26 March 2014 reported on Phase II of the Africa Climate Change Resilience Alliance (ACCRA) programme. ODI researchers Dr Eva Ludi and Lindsey Jones were joined on the panel by Saskia Daggett (ACCRA), Dr Rosalind Cornforth (University of Reading) and Dr Duncan Green (Oxfam GB).

With communities at the core of ACCRA’s approach, Saskia Daggett described the beginnings of change that are emerging in districts of Ethiopia, Mozambique and Uganda. Marginalised groups, particularly women, are becoming more meaningfully involved in decision-making, climate information is starting to reach those who need it most and national and district governments are beginning to work together more effectively to plan for future change. The audience and those streaming live online heard that the key to ACCRA’s success has been collaborative research, advocacy and capacity building.

We heard consensus from the panel that change and uncertainty are at the heart of development, but a focus on short-term delivery and outcomes are causing decision-makers, as well as development practitioners, to miss windows of opportunities. Lindsey Jones presented the findings of ACCRA’s research team in exploring whether the principles of ('Flexible and Forward-Looking Decision Making' (FFDM) could be effective for district planners in uncovering windows of opportunity for climate change adaptation. The team’s innovative ‘game-enabled reflection’ approach proved effective and popular in changing attitudes towards overcoming barriers to adaptation and exploiting the ‘wiggle room’ for adaptation action, even where barriers to FFDM are significant.

The potential for the game-reflection approach to explore critical trade-offs in adaptation planning and the utility of FFDM as an entry point to enhance adaptive capacity led to lively discussion among the audience. Acknowledging the political economy barriers to planning, including top-down planning, lack of agency at district levels and lack of incentives for adaptation, the idea of building capacity to recognise and exploit ‘wiggle room’, however small, was picked up by Duncan Green and practitioners in the audience as a means of affecting change.

The climate science community is also taking up these ideas. We heard how the Africa Climate Exchange AfClix is working to understand political context, knowledge gaps and local needs and demands in delivering climate services. Rosalind Cornforth explained that meeting this challenge will require working across scales, co-production of services with end users, recognising mutual benefits to both producers, and users and a focus on longer timeframes, a role that universities may be best-placed to fill.

Over the next two years, with funding from DfID, ACCRA aims to scale up efforts to support change at the core of communities and co-produce solutions with local, national and regional decision-makers.