By Candice Arendse and Mpfunzeni Thsindane
The Environmental and Social Policy (ESP) of the Adaptation Fund (AF) is a vital component of the AF’s project to identify, mitigate and manage environmental and social risks. The ESP ensures positive social and environmental development without compromising local and international legislations. The ESP consists of 15 principles that include project compliance on aspects such as labour, human rights, access and equity and protection of natural habitats. During 2016, SANBI as the NIE to the Adaptation Fund in South Africa was awarded a Technical Assistance Grant by the Adaptation Fund to assist with efforts of complying with the Fund’s safeguards for the Small Grants Facility and the uMngeni Resilience Project.
Contracted by SANBI, the Institute of Natural Resources (INR) has been tasked to develop an ESP Risk Dashboard with a set of Guidelines to assist project implementers in better understanding and reporting against the 15 Principles of the ESP. The Dashboard aims to provide a process that assists project implementers to identify and assess the probability of environmental and social risks within their projects through a transparent process and with efficient technical support.
Through an ESP Reference Group established to guide the work, SANBI announced that two training workshops would be conducted to support SGF partners to use the Dashboard. Following the initial Namakwa training (11 July), another training workshop is planned for the Mopani Small Grant Recipients in August 2017. Additionally, the Dashboard was presented to URP partners at a local coordinating meeting (21 June 2017).
During the first training workshop, Fonda Lewis from INR gave an overview of the Dashboard tool and the 15 incorporated ESP principles. The principles were contextualized to reflect the South African situation and definitions of terms specifically related to South African laws and policies were included.
Fonda highlighted that the Dashboard is developed in such a way that uncertainty is minimized through a standardized process that is able to identify triggers in the specific project. The Dashboards highlights priorities within each principle through specific questions that the user should answer. The tool also includes an area where recommendations and follow up actions for mitigation and monitoring are summarized, and any other additional notes captured. The contextualized questions and prompting of mitigation actions where required contributes to a simplified process of monitoring compliance.
The training involved a test run through the Dashboard to identify challenges and areas of clarification, and participants offered suggestions as to how the dashboard could be improved and simplified further to make it more user friendly The participants were divided into two groups and given an example of projects with different types of hidden risks that could be triggered and monitored using the Dashboard. Overall, the Dashboard received positive and constructive feedback and it was noted that its use enables a fairly straightforward and simplified process, when compared to the previous reporting format. Upon completion of all the training workshops, the Dashboard and Guidelines will be made available and adopted as a formal Environmental and Safeguards tool for the SGF and URP projects.
More information on the ESP principles of the Adaptation Fund is available from https://www.adaptation-fund.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Environmental-Social-Policy-approved-Nov2013.pdf