NewsDeveloping climate-resilient and peaceful societies through evidence-informed training on effective programming

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Climate shocks and stressors, be they rapid-onset such as floods and storms, or slow-onset such as rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns, are increasing in frequency and intensity the world over.

In fragile and conflict-affected contexts, their interaction with existing vulnerabilities such as food insecurity, poor governance, and economic weakness may enhance hardships and grievances and sometimes risk heightening tension and conflict. The United Nations Secretary-General's Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) is the United Nations (UN) system's financial instrument of first resort to sustain peace in countries or situations at risk or affected by violent conflict. Since 2017, the PBF has invested over $100 million towards climate, peace and security efforts through its projects across the world. 

DPPA’s Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), together with the United Nations System Staff College, the Climate Security Mechanism, and independent think tank Adelphi, co-organized the Climate, Peace and Security Programming Training. This training which is a response to the findings of the PBSO’s newly launched Thematic Review on Climate Security and Peacebuilding 2023, provided an opportunity for participants to improve their programming capacity and project design for new national and cross-border peacebuilding projects being developed for the Peacebuilding Fund. Participants from UN agencies, funds and programmes in Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Madagascar, Mauritania, Niger, South Sudan, and The Gambia representing Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Labour Organization (ILO), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights  (OHCHR), United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Women, World Food Programme (WFP) and the PBF Secretariat came together with their diverse expertise, experience, and perspectives, allowing for new and innovative ideas to emerge.

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Thanks to the hands-on nature of the training, participants benefitted from dedicated sessions to present PBF project proposals under development and receive concrete feedback from the training team and their peers. The similarities and scale of challenges and needs identified in countries across Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean confirmed the relevance for the UN to adopt a proactive approach in dealing with climate-related risks to peace and security. Some of the main takeaways from the discussion include: 

  • Reconciling the peacebuilding and the environment communities. Horizontal and vertical collaboration is needed among ministries and institutions to inform decision-making and budgeting and support environmental and peacebuilding goals. At the same time, integrated programming among UN agencies, funds and programmes focusing on different technical areas is essential to respond to complex situations in an efficient, robust, and agile way. The PBF’s multi-agency approachsets a good example in this regard.  
  • Programming for specific contexts. Interventions must reflect a deep understanding of ongoing issues and the context in which they play out. As such, programming should be informed by inclusive and participatory conflict and climate-related risks analyses that provide sufficient information to develop responses commensurate to the specific risks to climate, peace and security identified and their geographical scope, whether local, national, regional or cross-border. Awareness and understanding of key contextual elements are also necessary to realize the ‘do no harm’ principle. 
  • Developing partnerships with local, national, regional, and cross-border actors. Strong partnerships with relevant actors are essential to get buy-in and support from the outset, as well as to ensure that project activities are in line with relevant policies, practices, etc. As programming for climate security and peacebuilding is a relatively new field, leveraging all available knowledge and expertise through partnerships should not be neglected. The short duration of PBF projects also makes it a good practice to build on existing support, as peacebuilding usually happens over longer timeframes.  
  • Connecting political objectives to local level peacebuilding. Peace can flourish in the most unlikely circumstances, as evidenced by the experiences shared by participants. When it comes to addressing climate-related risks to peace and security, climate change adaptation can provide useful entry points to facilitate dialogue and build social cohesion among affected communities, for example through joint management of natural resources. This requires having the right policies, processes, and frameworks in place to ensure long-lasting results. UN responses should be holistic and operate at different levels with the aim to reconcile higher level political objectives and strategies with local peacebuilding needs.   
  • Making climate finance accessible to fragile and conflict-affected countries. The PBF’s risk-tolerant approach is a case in point. Fragile and conflict-affected countries currently mobilize around one-third of the funding allocated to non-conflict affected countries. Through effective investments in climate adaptation and peacebuilding, even in increasingly complex and fragile contexts, the PBF can offer ‘proof of concept’ that other climate funds and donors can consider scaling up.  
  • Increasing flexibility of funding to fragile and conflict-affected contexts. Situations can shift quickly in fragile and conflict-affected contexts, even more so when vulnerability and exposure to climate shocks and stressors are high. Funding mechanisms should take this into account by providing flexible implementation frameworks that allow partners to adapt and respond to emerging needs over a project’s lifetime. Strategic Foresight exercises have the potential to support UN programming as they help anticipate for different scenarios. 

The training successfully concluded after two and a half days of exchanges. As participants move forward with the development and implementation of their climate security projects, new learnings on the field of climate security programming will emerge to improve the quality and quantity of PBF and UN support to fragile and conflict-affected countries. UNSSC and the PBF will also bring forward learnings from this training into a second iteration to be held before the end of 2023. The next training will aim to strengthen the capacity of PBF Secretariats to support the development, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of climate security projects, and to offer tools and techniques for the facilitation of discussions and knowledge sharing activities with key counterparts around climate, peace and security.

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