The 2021 SNRD Conference — Adapt and Change in Challenging Times
About the focus of the gathering
Onsite live interaction ⎮ Photo: © GIZ
The changing climate and the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic are heavily transforming our life on earth. Everywhere we witness the impact of this new normal.
Rural areas in Africa are no exception. Though the continent emits very little carbon dioxide in comparison, i.e. 4% of global emissions, Africa’s countryside will most definitely continue to be reshaped substantially. Numerous detrimental effects on rural development and agriculture are already seriously impacting the lives of smallholder farmers and entire communities.
More than enough reason for SNRD Africa to make climate change mitigation and adaptation the focus of their meeting in November 2021. In Accra expertise from all over Africa and beyond was brought together to strategize raising awareness and discuss ways to tackle the impediments to development efforts.
Photo: © GIZ
Why climate change matters to SNRD Africa
For GIZ’s sector network climate change does play an important role because 43 of 115 member projects work explicitly on climate-related topics. Basically all of SNRD’s working groups have put climate-related activities on their agenda by now.
For an innovative and future-proof sector network that caters to the needs of the local population, it has to consider ways and strategies to intensify the strengthening of the capacities of farmers and various others stakeholders to adapt and mitigate climate change on local, regional and global scales.
The first-ever hybrid conference of SNRD Africa has created great traction in the online and offline audience of members and invited guests. Following the motto Adapt and Change the conference (20-26 November) saw 100 participants in presence in Accra and 200 online participants who were sharing their learnings, toolboxes and insights from various projects. Successful collaborations, possible synergies between projects and initiatives and many technical discussions around climate change mitigation and adaptation, rural development and agriculture were held during the week.
Different formats such as panel discussions, expert rounds (24-26 Nov) training sessions (20-21 Nov), field trips (25 Nov) and working groups meetings (22-23 Nov) were organised to create a colorful and attractive programme.
The conference kickstarted with a hybrid opening ceremony (23. Nov) with Germany’s Ambassador to Ghana, Daniel Krull, and GIZ Country Director, Regina Bauerochse, giving their honors and encouraging Ghana in its efforts to combat climate change.
To get participants in the mood for the topic SNRD Africa’s sustainable transformation for Rural Development and against climate change the event had started with two days of training and capacity building (20- 21 November) and two days of working group sessions (22-23 Nov) to prepare and learn about the topic.
On the main days of the conference members of the sector network discussed approaches and exchanged proven recipes for project implementation, e.g. ICT tools created by the Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture Supply Chain (INA), which is using the digital applications Farming Solution and Extension Solution, with those companies can identify key areas for improvement.
Photo: © GIZ
Shaping the way forward – SNRD conference speakers
The conference hosted renown speakers such as Nana Ama Browne-Klutse, lead author from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Manyewu Mutamba from New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) and Marc Dumas from the Global Climate Fund. Their inputs connected the challenges of climate change with the need for climate adaption and mitigation in agriculture as well as the need for sustainable food systems in African countries.
GIZ commissioning parties from the BMZ represented by Martin Hoppe, Sebastian Lesch and Hendrik Denker as well as Leonard Mizzi from the European Union actively shaped the programmes with their impacts on connecting challenges of climate change with sound food systems and sustainable supply chains.
Gaëtan Etancelin, representing private sector efforts from Madagascar stressed the need to include actors from companies to be part of the solution combating climate change.
Photo: © GIZ
Methods to create an innovate programme
The conference hosted up to four parallel sessions at the same time – yet, with still many proposals coming from the sector network which couldn’t be considered be presented.
So how to handle the high demand with the aim of creating an innovative qualitative programme? The approach used was a thorough match-making process where related proposals were asked to create a session together. This made presenters condense inputs to the essence and think of links between the different ideas.
This extra trigger led to new levels of collaborations between the different ideas and projects and encouraged strong networks among people. All sessions were hybrid and allowed online and offline audiences to follow excitedly. With interpretation available, participants were free to choose who to follow and contribute in English and French.
Sustainability measures of our climate conference
Holding a conference with the theme climate change demands extra efforts in light of sustainability and climate awareness. Hence, the wide programme accepted contributions from all over the world – but they were held in a virtual manner – saving CO2 emissions and transmission of the pandemic.
A sustainability concept was developed together with the hotel, catering and waste management. As a practical highlight – the closing ceremony ended with a joint tree planting exercise on the hotel premises which was undertaken to offset emissions. In total over 50 trees were planted and over 500 plants were distributed to participants.
An SNRD tradition and a usual highlight were the field trips into rural areas where participants had the chance to visit five different GIZ Ghana projects, see their real impact and engage in discussions with partners. From mango and pineapple farms to cashew seedlings nurseries, rubber plantations and gender-transformative vegetable farming practices different approaches on how to mitigate emissions and adapt to climate change as well as Ghanaian produced chocolate products with its cocoa coming directly from organic farmers in the region.
Connecting colleagues in challenging Covid-19 times, to discuss issues beyond virtual engagements was not only a challenge but a goal which SNRD Africa succeeded in Accra — mindful of safety measures.
With the Head of Division of West Africa 2 and Madagascar, Kirsten Focken, present, this favored what SNRD exists for: Strengthening the network of GIZ experts working in the field of rural development. Members of the network who could not make it to Accra were given the opportunity to participate online and express ideas there.
Documentation and takeaways from the contributions
The conference has shown how much experience on mitigation and adaptation to climate change as well as connections to food systems and other nexus topics such as water, energy and infrastructure and even health exist within GIZ. Now, the real work starts where we connect all the expertise together.
The presentations of the conference are documented here (Internal link).