ISDAf’s Plan

Current Initiatives to Enhance Resilience to Environmental Degradation and Climate Change in Africa

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects up to 4 degrees Celsius warming in eastern Africa by 2100, and a greater frequency and intensity of devastating tropical cyclones (Knutson et al. 2020). As a consequence, many UN organizations have initiated ambitious programmes to reduce deforestation and land degradation, increase biodiversity, promote sustainable agroforestry and use of indigenous crops to provide nutritious food for rural communities (e.g., UNDP, UNEP, UNFAO, the UN Food Systems Programme (UNFSP)).  The UNFSP (2020) clearly states that “indigenous crops and species are a valuable natural resource in the fight against malnutrition. African based organizations have partnered with UNEP, to provide regional strategic and policy guidance across nations to help promote sound environmental management for sustainable development” (UNEP 2020).

In 2015, the UN General Assembly crafted the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which addresses forced migration and displacement. The first two areas of focus outlined in 2030 agenda apply directly to issues our initiative will address in our workshops, publications, white papers and presentations to agencies: I) Addressing the root causes of displacement (e.g., cumulative impacts of poor development planning, natural disasters and environmental degradation); II) identify measures to help mitigate negative factors that compel people to leave their homes; II) supporting governments to integrate migration and displacement in national and local development plans, including during the localization of SDGs, and strengthening positive impacts of migrants/diaspora. 

The WBG has also supported several initiatives, including the Forest Action Plan FY16-20, to reduce the vulnerability of rural communities and indigenous groups to climate change and poor development planning.  In 2016, Laura Tuck, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development, stated that, “The World Bank Group Forest Action Plan seeks to make the sustainable management of forests an integral part of the global development agenda. It is an ambitious response to growing demand from client countries that recognize the critical role forests play in supporting sustainable development, lifting people out of poverty and addressing climate change” (WBG 2016).  The WBG is striving to accomplish this by streamlining its interventions across the WBG as well as across its forest-related funds (e.g., the BioCarbon Fund, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, the Forest Investment Program and the Global Environment Facility); coordination is deemed critical to meeting sustainable development and climate goals. 

ISDAf’s Plan

The ISDAf founders recognize the logistical difficulty of getting even relatively small groups of people together for a series of workshops, and even greater difficulty of getting representatives from LID communities to a workshop: many live in remote, rural areas of Africa with few or no developed roads, and no reliable airports within hundreds of kilometers. As such our plan is a three phased approach.

Phase One (Workshops with Professional ESIA Practitioners)

Phase one workshop attendees will include ESIA practitioners, government officials and representatives from NGOs.  In the nearest future (2022 – 2026), these meetings will be held regionally in East, West and South Africa. Meetings in Central and North Africa will be held as practical (i.e., dependent on funding). These regional meetings will coincide with national or international conferences on African archaeology and anthropology in 2022, 2024 and 2026, as feasible. By hosting our meetings coincident with conferences, we will be able to engage with a broader audience of social scientists who work in Africa.  Prior to each workshop, the ISDAf founders and local social scientists and anthropologists/archaeologists will participate in an open session at the respective regional conference. The session will be dedicated to participants sharing their experiences conducting stakeholder engagement in Africa, success stories and failures, and engaging with the audience. If sufficient technology is available at the conference, our session will be videotaped and broadcast on YouTube to solicit input from a global audience.  Audience insights, observations and questions will be recorded and further examined in our workshop, which will be held the following week.

During the Phase one workshops, participants will discuss ESIA projects where they have witnessed fear and apprehension expressed by LID community members regarding sharing information about their communities or resources important to them. The workshop will explore whether these LID community members: (1) had past experiences where they voiced concerns regarding a project and the project did not acknowledge and adequately address these concerns, or (2) had been threatened by project proponents, project supporters or corrupt government officials, and therefore were too afraid to share information that would be presented in the EIA or ESIA. Phase one workshops will also explore means of auditing ESIA outcomes to help ensure LID communities are more accurately and fairly represented, and insofar as feasible, that projects are re-designed to minimize direct and indirect impacts on LID communities and their cultural heritage. 

On the final day of the Phase one meetings, Phase two meetings will be planned. The Phase one meetings will identify a sample of four LID communities to meet with in-person within a 100-200 km radius of an ESIA project that had been completed and licensed/permitted at least five years (5-yr) prior to the Phase one meeting. 

Phase Two (Workshops with LID Communities)

Within six-months of the Phase One workshop, the ISDAf and its sponsors will finance four regional ESIA practitioners, with knowledge of local indigenous dialects and with working relationships with at least one of the four selected LID communities. These meetings comprise the ISDAf’s Phase two workshops. Each practitioner and an assistant would travel to the community they have an existing relationship with and solicit their input to how their local and national government, NGOs, WBG/AfDB can improve engagement with them on long-term development plans or resource management plans for their region, as well as on future development projects and conservation programmes.  The ESIA practitioners would also ask the LID community members how they feel about development in the region (everything from commercial agriculture and forestry to infrastructure and mining), if they felt they had been adequately engaged in these development projects/programmes, what went right, and what went wrong on previous projects, and how they would like stakeholder engagement to change (what would make it better). It is anticipated the ESIA practitioners would spend up to 10 days working with their assigned community to gather this information.

Immediately upon returning from the field, the ESIA practitioners conducting these interviews would consolidate the information in confidential reports and prepare a Power Point (PPT) presentation summarizing key findings of their meetings with LID communities.  Within two-months of gathering information from the LID communities, these materials would be provided to the ISDAf founders, who would then distribute the materials to all Phase Three workshop participants to read prior to the Phase Three workshop meetings, which would be planned for one-year following the Phase One meeting for the region.

Phase Three (Workshops with ESIA Practitioners, National and Local Government Representatives, and Regional Representatives of the WBG and AfDB, and UNDP)

Within two months of sharing the confidential reports and PPTs with Phase Three workshop attendees, ISDAf would host a series of four three-hour on-line ZOOM meetings.  Each ZOOM meeting would be recorded so workshop invitees that were unable to get on-line at the time of the meeting could watch it and provide their written feedback or call one of the ISDAf participants and share their feedback.  The ZOOM meetings would be dedicated to: (1) Examining the summaries of shared experiences, concerns, and interests expressed by LID community members. This information would be garnered to determine what works and what does not work with the current manner in which stakeholder engagement is conducted, conveyed in EIAs and ESIAs, and ultimately implemented; (2) Determine if policy changes are needed at national, AfDB, WBG and UN levels.  If adequate funding can be obtained, these meetings will take place in person.

Phase One, Two and Three Workshop Documents

Each series of regional workshops will result in a series of documents, including: a policy statement to be distributed to national governments, agencies and organizations working in the region; a technical paper summarizing key issues and solutions for release on the WBG and other IFI websites; and a book for an academic audience to be published by Routledge press in their Africa Studies/ Development series.