29 Jul 2015

Commonwealth Professional Fellowship Scheme Climate Change Training

The Climate Change fellows during a field visit © Chris Magin/RSPB
By Olivia Adhiambo

Keep our planet cool! This is the message that participants of the Common Wealth Fellowship Programme on climate change policy and advocacy purposed to share with national policy makers. BirdLife International and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB, BirdLife in the UK) has co-facilitated a six weeks training on climate change policy and advocacy. The six week training which started on 11th May 2015 to 18th June 215, was aimed at building capacity of the BirdLife Partnership to advice, influence and support national governments to develop and implement effective climate change policies that take ecosystems into account. The participants were drawn from four BirdLife Africa Partners and the secretariat.

The training was delivered through a series of lectures and skills building sessions which included a history on the UNFCCC and the key milestones of the convention. The skills building session covered on how to develop policy advocacy and communication strategies. The fellows had a unique opportunity to engage with UK government policy makers and also to learn from private sector and government partnership initiatives on climate change adaptation. As part of the programme the fellows visited the Peak District where RSPB is working with a private water company (United Utilities) to restore blanket bog which is delivering carbon, water, people and biodiversity benefits. At the end of the field visit, Francis Kagema noted that good management practises now, particularly around soil conservation, can avoid future expensive habitat restoration.

The Climate Change fellows meeting BirdLife International CEO in Cambridge © BirdLife

The fellows had an opportunity to put their skills into practise by taking part the 42nd sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) convened in Bonn, Germany, from 1-11 June 2015. This conference provided an opportunity for the fellows to lobby their government delegates on specific climate change challenges in their countries.

The training was very timely as countries are currently preparing to sign a new climate change agreement in December 2015. The fellows who participated in the training are now climate change champions within the BirdLife Africa Partnership and are supporting their respective governments to prepare for the UNFCCC COP 21 in Paris to be held later this year.

The fellowship programme was funded by Commonwealth Professional Fellowship Scheme and facilitated by RSPB and BirdLife International.