As those of you who have been members of Climate-Eval since its inception will know, the Community of Practice was developed to promote collaboration and knowledge sharing around issues related to climate change and development evaluations. Its genesis came during the 2008 International Conference on Evaluating Climate Change and Development held in Alexandria, Egypt, after which the CoP was duly established. Over the next four years Climate-Eval has steadily grown to become the platform for a number of successful activities and projects including an active blog with contributions from evaluation experts, an evaluation e-library, a series of ground-breaking studies written by leading consultants as well as regular webinars which have attracted an average of 75 participants. As of January 2013, the site had more than 1,200 members and attracted an average of nearly 1,000 visitors every month. On the back of these successes, Climate-Eval's moderators were able to announce it had secured a new round of funding from the German International Technical Cooperation (GIZ), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).
However, despite these successes, the Climate-Eval team is not resting on its laurels! In fact, this blog is being written to inform members that Climate-Eval is now preparing to enter a new phase in its lifecycle. The plan is to broaden the CoP's focus to take include a wider set of issues and development interventions around evaluating Natural Resource Management (NRM). This seems like a logical step considering the close links between Climate Change and NRM. Take Climate Change adaptation for example, where natural resource management and adaptation activities are often self-reinforcing; natural resources are threatened by climate change and so thus adaptation activities are needed to help protect them, while simultaneously protecting natural resources, such as mangroves, can enhance adaptation to the effects of climate change, namely flooding. And NRM and Climate Change mitigation are also linked; natural resources, such as forests and certain marine ecosystems can act as a balancing mechanism to mitigate climate change via carbon sequestration. REDD+ projects, for example, are then linked to carbon trading platforms, which help regulate global greenhouse gas emissions.
At the broader level, the move to include NRM considerations is justified by the fact that while clearly biodiversity and natural resources management are key environment themes affected by climate change, no international community of practice currently addresses this relationship and evaluators working in the area have few opportunities and resources to assist them. Therefore, Climate-Eval, by extending into this area, will be providing a valuable service to a currently unmet audience. Furthermore, it is envisaged that expanding the thematic focus of Climate-Eval to include natural resources management will help foster a more holistic approach in assessing the effectiveness of interventions which attempt to address both poverty alleviation and sustainable resource use in the face of the aggravating impacts of climate change toward these objectives.
Having decided to integrate NRM in Climate-Eval, the next step is to work out exactly how this should look. To that end the Climate-Eval team is seeking the help of its members to ensure the inclusion is useful, productive and addresses the right questions. Therefore, please send us suggestions, comments, and questions. A few thoughts to get the ball rolling:
- What topics do you think we should focus on?
- What format should the information take - webinars, blogs, studies?
- What are the knowledge and skills gaps for evaluators which create challenges in conducting evaluation?
- What conceptual frameworks could best explain the links between climate change and NRM specifically in relation to evaluation?