Adaptation Network reflections on 2016

By Candice Arendse

The Adaptation Network had a fruitful and dynamic 2016 with valuable contributions from our members and Steering Committee. On 29 November 2016 the Network held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the National Botanical Gardens in Pretoria, with 23 participants in attendance. Participants reflected on the activities of 2016 and envisioned plans for 2017. Other key agenda points that were discussed included a report back from the Steering Committee on Network activities and plans, the forthcoming Mid-term evaluation, the election of the Steering Committee and the appointment of the Network Secretariat.

Image below: Participants at the AGM

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The Network Steering Committee (SC) plays an integral role in supporting and enhancing the functionality of Network activities. The elected members of the Steering Committee for the current year are Claire Davis (CSIR), Felix Donkor (University of Witwatersrand), Kgaugelo Chiloane (WWF), Mpumi Mhlalisi (GenderCC), Mxolisi Nyuswa (KwaZulu Regional Christian Council), Nick Hamer (Rhodes University), Penny Price (African Climate and Development Initiative), Sarshen Scorgie (Conservation South Africa), and Victor Indasi (Climate Systems Analysis Group).

The Environmental Monitoring Group was reappointed as the Secretariat of the Network. Secretariat Manager Noel Oettlé thanked the outgoing SC members for their commitment and for the valuable input they had provided in the course of the year, and welcomed the newly elected SC members.

The SC members are individually assigned to four portfolios that underline the key performing areas of the Network. Through these portfolios, SC members guide the strategy and activities of the Network, engaging the knowledge and enthusiasm of individual members. SC members reported to the AGM on the activities of each portfolio in the course of the year, as well as challenges and future opportunities.

Mark New reported on fundraising, informing the meeting that the Fundraising Portfolio aims to provide a strategy to make the Network financially sustainable. This will enable the Network to continue with future planned activities beyond the three years funded by the Government of Flanders.  The portfolio also aims to assist organisational members to secure funding for adaptation related projects and work, and will thus include Fundraising Capacity Training Events to support the members through a variety of capacity building activities such as writing workshops to improve the writing of good concept notes and full funding proposals. The proposed strategy includes items such as a Fundraising Toolkit, Fundraising Digest and an Action Plan for 2018 and beyond.

Image below: From left to right, Mark New of African Climate and Development Initiative, Vhali Khavhagali of Department of Environmental Affairs, Nick Hamer of Rhodes University, Mandy Barnett of South African National Biodiversity Institute and previous Network Chair Bettina Koelle

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The outgoing Chair of the Steering Committee, Bettina Koelle, reported on capacity development activities. The Network hosted three well attended and successful workshops during 2016. The two-day workshops were hosted in Cape Town, Tzaneen and King Williams Town, and were attended by participants from government, local communities, private organisations and non- governmental organisations.

She thanked the co-organisers of the successful Adaptation Colloquium, held at the University of Witwatersrand on 7 & 8 July 2016 provided a platform for integrated knowledge sharing and learning in the field of adaptation.  The Network was a co-organiser of the event and awarded travel bursaries to several members to enable them to attend.  Discussions regarding the next Colloquium are currently taking place.

Noel Oettlé presented an overview of the activities, income and expenditure of the Network during 2016, as well as planned activities which includes continuity and improvement of the communications within the Network, and engaging in local and national policy and governance processes.

A monitoring and evaluation plan for the Network was also discussed during the AGM. This will be linked to a midterm review that will focus on identifying gaps and areas where additional focus is needed. The midterm review will involve interviews with Network members and role players. The process and structure of the midterm review and the monitoring and evaluation plan will be facilitated by Penny Price and Alicia Okeyo.

A final session provided a platform for participants of the meeting to discuss and report back on suggested future plans for the Network. In addition, participants were able to provide feedback and suggestions on the information being received during the meeting. Participants were fully engaged during each session and gave insightful concrete input into the planning.

Member suggestions include:

  • Knowledge exchange at local level;
  • Increased student engagement;
  • More social science approaches such as knowledge exchanges, dialogues and narratives;
  • Improve communication of opportunities within the Network;
  • Contribute to implementation of adaptation aspects of the Paris Agreement in South Africa.

The Network aims to produce a brief annual report for 2016, outlining its activities, expenditure and budget.