CLEAR-FA and CLEAR-AA Participate in Launch of SUSTAIN Project in Bangkok
The Strengthening Borrowers' Capacity on Environmental, Social and Climate Best Practices (SUSTAIN) project recently kicked off in Bangkok with a gathering of over 40 representatives from Africa, Asia, and Europe. The event brought together participants from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Helvetas, members of the Value Chain and Capacity Building Network (VCB-N), as well as project management units and government representatives from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Pakistan, India, and Vietnam. GEI Implementing Partners, the Center for Learning on Evalution and Results for Anglophone Africa (CLEAR-AA), and the Center for Learning on Evalution and Results for Francophone Africa (CLEAR-FA) are the lead implementing partners for SUSTAIN in Africa and were also in attendance.
The fragility of ecosystems and of rural communities is increasing in the face of various economic, social and climate pressures. Vulnerable groups such as indigenous communities, women, persons with disabilities, children, and youth are particularly affected by these pressures. Governments and development partners need to be able to implement and monitor mechanisms to address the risks that vulnerable communities are exposed to in the design and implementation of development interventions.
The SUSTAIN project highlights the growing recognition that inadequate integration of Environmental, Social and Climate (ESC) provisions in rural development programs and projects can have adverse impacts on the environment and people's lives, create reputational, litigation, and financial risks for development partners, and jeopardize the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The four-day event was aimed at raising awareness about the relevance of applying ESC standards and Social, Environmental and Climate Assessment Procedures (SECAP) in rural development programs and projects. Participants worked towards co-developing an appropriate SECAP training curriculum, identifying trainers, and shaping the SECAP Community of Practice to build a team with a common understanding of ESC standards.
According to Candice Morkel, Director of CLEAR-AA, "The idea is that targeted and tailored capacity building programs, together with knowledge and learning exchanges through a Community of Practice, will be able to address the persistent capacity gaps among vulnerable and at-risk groups in IFAD agricultural projects. We believe this will contribute to improvements in the design, implementation, and monitoring of ESC risks and improve conditions related to these projects."
The SUSTAIN project has two components, starting with the development and provision of a customized and modular training offering, and secondly, the development of a Community of Practice. The work is part of the SUSTAIN SECAP initiative of IFAD, which aims to raise awareness and strengthen the capacities of national ministries engaged in rural development to meet environmental, social, and climate standards and contribute to equitable, socially inclusive, and environmentally sustainable rural transformation. The initiative aims to train 600 representatives from 59 countries in the Asia Pacific, East and Southern Africa, and West and Central African regions.
Morkel acknowledged that there is still much to be done in the next phase, including the Training Needs Analysis for the East and Southern African Region and the West and Central African Region, the Training of Trainers workshop, and building a Community of Practice to support the long-term vision of IFAD's SUSTAIN SECAP initiative in contributing to equitable, socially inclusive, and environmentally sustainable rural transformation.
The SUSTAIN project's launch in Bangkok marks a significant step towards strengthening the capacities of borrowers, governments, and development partners to implement best practices in environmental, social, and climate standards in rural development programs and projects. With a focus on vulnerable and at-risk communities, this initiative aims to create positive impacts on the environment and people's lives.