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5 lessons from the Action on Climate Today programme

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Sharing learning as the multi-sectoral programme concludes

Over the past five years, the Action on Climate Today (ACT) programme has supported governments in South Asia to plan and deliver integrated climate resilience development programmes by incorporating climate change considerations in to planning, budgeting, and delivery at national and sub-national levels across five countries and 10 locations.

With the end of this multi-sectoral, multi-faceted, and diverse programme, we share some key successes (see below), and present the top five learnings from the programme that can be useful for others in the development space to design and deliver programmes on climate change and other issues:

  1. Maintain a flexible and evolving theory of change: ACT’s success has been in large measure due to the adaptive management approach in which the programme has been designed and implemented. An evolving theory of change and a flexible log frame, matched with a clear focus on outcomes and impact, has helped achieve this to a large extent.
  1. Map the political economy of policy contexts: Understanding the interests and incentives, as well as values and ideas, of key decision makers critical to driving change. Determining salient policy narratives, social, cultural, and political norms, are particularly critical for climate change policy change, as the politically palatable entry points for climate action might be in other sectors or alternative framings of the issues.
  1. Adopt a regional approach to programming: The fact that ACT operates across 12 locations in five countries provides greater robustness and credibility to our models and has enhanced the programme’s influence, while also allowing for innovation and replication.
  1. Go beyond technical assistance: Through the course of the programme, ACT has gone beyond its initial phrase of tailored technical assistance support, and facilitated access to national and international project finance to help governments test innovations and accelerate scaling up.
  1. Invest in learning and robust communications: The concerted focus on sharing lessons and learnings has helped identify common standards and build a common language on resilience building. This has helped ensure that others in the larger network learn from our work and adopt some of the tools, approaches, models, and frameworks that the programme has developed to derive an ‘amplified’ impact.

The achievements from this programme include mobilising or shaping over $1.3 billion for new and additional climate action in South Asia. ACT has also supported implementation of 30 different policies, system enhancements, budgeting tools, and decision-making tools that incorporate climate risks across all 10 locations where the programme operates, and secured government adoption of nearly 100 additional climate proofed policies, tools, and budgets. Additionally, the programme has built the institutional capacity of 86 regional institutions, national and subnational government departments, civil society, and academic organisations to mainstream climate change and has facilitated cross-learning across the region.

While the programme has made extensive progress in charting a course towards building climate resilience in South Asia, the true impact of the programme in terms of adapting economic and social systems to climate change, ensuring climate-resilient and sustainable development and, in particular, reducing the vulnerability of communities to climate change impacts, will only be realised long after the end of the programme. It is of the utmost significance now, more than ever, to keep up the momentum for building a climate resilient world and continue the action on climate change!