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IMC Worldwide at COP24: Climate Adaptation at Scale and the role of Innovation Prizes

Event at COP24 in Katowice, Poland, discussed climate adaptation initiatives and the role of innovation prizes.

Wednesday 12 December 2018, Private: Benedetta Sala

As leaders meet in Katowice, Poland, for the two weeks long 24th UN Climate Change Conference, discussions about climate change initiatives from around the world are in the spotlight. On Wednesday 5 December, the Nepal Government, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and representatives of the Adaptation at Scale project team co-hosted a side event at COP24.

The event shared innovative ideas and initiatives being implemented on the ground that aim to influence national policies for climate adaptation and address growing gaps in finance, technology and capacity, especially in least developed countries (LDCs). The event highlighted examples from Nepal with Adaptation at Scale, lessons from Government of Nepal’s Local Adaptation Plan of Action and experiences from climate innovation prizes.

Adaptation at Scale is one of the innovation prizes run by the UK Aid-funded Ideas to Impact Programme, which is delivered by a team led by IMC Worldwide. 

Innovation prizes are competitions that reward new ideas, technologies and services that can solve specific problems, such as climate change adaptation. They allow new and local actors (entrants and winners) to influence and accelerate policy-making with innovative ideas and through a bottom-up approach, and often involve localised actions and local communities. 

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Dr Madhav Karki, representing Adaptation at Scale, shared his experience on LDCs adapting to climate change through a scaled approach, and suggested further needs and requirements for transformative adaptation. He suggested that transformational adaptation is needed to replace failing systems and institutions. He also argued that current adaptation work in LDCs does not address the ‘adaptation deficit’ adequately. He therefore suggests that scaling-up (i.e. influencing policy at the national level through a bottom-up approach), and scaling-out (i.e. reaching more people and beneficiaries through local participation) represent a potential to move on transformational pathways and address the adaptation deficit. 

In addition, the conversation revolved around the topics of achieving better disaster risk reduction through bioengineering, and improving resilience through livelihoods diversification and indigenous knowledge.

Dr Lars Otto Naess, from IDS, has been involved in the Ideas to Impact programme. Dr Naess took the opportunity at COP24 to highlight the key role that climate innovation prizes play in supporting adaptation to climate change. In particular, they are extremely beneficial and effective because they:

  • Leverage adaptation funding in new areas; and complement existing funding.
  • Promote diversity of actors and solutions beyond those already involved.
  • Put local actors in the lead.
  • Raise awareness and influence policy.
  • Help build communities of practice.

In particular, he shared his experience with the Climate Information Prize, also part of Ideas to Impact. The latest prize was awarded in Nairobi, Kenya, at the end of November 2018. Read more about the Tekeleza Prize.

In his final remarks he noted lessons learned up to date:

  • Innovation prizes can help bring in new actors: such as entrepreneurs in Kenya, and small-scale organisations in Nepal.
  • The entering threshold needs to be lowered and the risks of participation need to be taken into account.
  • Prize process should be supported with capacity strengthening, information, visits.
  • Government support and buy-in is key to success.
  • As transformative change is slow, prize competitions can help put the spotlight on issues more quickly.

As negotiations are coming to a close, we hope that these insights will be helpful to climate actors interested in speeding up climate adaptation in innovative and alternative ways.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions cited in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of IMC Worldwide and associated organisations. 

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