ACCCRN in Indonesia is engaging various stakeholders including practitioners, the government, academic/research institutions, and the private sector. To better understand the needs of these actors, Mercy Corps Indonesia conducted a series of interviews in the cities of Jakarta, Semarang, Cirebon, and Probolinggo. Our goal was to understand some of the major challenges in implementing urban climate change resilience (UCCR) programs and identify strategies to alleviate them. We were also interested in understanding how the private sector perceives the impacts of climate change on their businesses and how membership of the network would interest them. The information we gathered from sitting down with people face to face and listening to their stories, concerns, ideas, and hopes for the future will help guide ACCCRN Indonesia progress.
So, what were the big findings from the interviews?
Several common themes emerged related to challenges in implementing urban climate change resilience programs: lack of leadership, lack of government funding, lack of public awareness, and lack of climate change experts. Other less-common challenges included lack of infrastructure, lack of coordination among stakeholders, lack of government capacity, lack of government policies, lack of government continuity, and lack of a clear plan from the private sector. Common proposed solutions to these challenges included: good leadership, government awareness, government funding, and stakeholder involvement. However, several interviewees explained that the continual changing of political leaders makes it difficult to have good leadership supporting climate change programs. Different leaders have different mindsets and it is very difficult to help them to prioritize climate change issues. Additionally, interviewees mentioned that it’s difficult to find qualified human resources to implement climate change programs. Lastly, faced with limited budgets, city mayors often don’t prioritize climate change issues or are unaware of the importance of these issues.
When asked what kind of support they would need from a network, most people responded saying knowledge-sharing and interaction among experts were top priorities. Other needs included: stakeholder involvement, funding, technology, advocacy guidance, publicity, and public education. When asked how a network might support members in influencing regional and national governments on urban climate change, the common thread was the idea of the ACCCRN Network playing an advocacy role. Here are some thoughts from our interviewees:
1) ACCCRN could bridge the gap between the local development body and the government.
2) We need experts from ACCCRN and practitioners that can raise the awareness of our leaders regarding climate change issues. If experts from ACCCRN join with national government to influence regional governments that would be useful.
3) ACCCRN could give direction and recommendations to the national government on specific laws related to climate change.
4) The network could help ensure that UCCR is a crucial issue for national and regional governments.
5) The network could be a place where government representatives (regional and national) could connect with NGOs. It would be a forum to bring everyone together for increased dialogue.
Most interviewees from the government and NGOs believed that sharing best practices and lessons learned would be their biggest contributions to the network. However, most people also admitted that they are not currently very active in the network. An important part of the network’s success will be to find a way to encourage individuals to be active members, engaging in dialogue with various stakeholders and contributing their expertise and best practices. As one of our interviewees said, “My biggest contribution to the ACCCRN Network is being an active member by communicating and disseminating information, replicating successful activities, and increasing motivation and spirit within the network.”
Building urban climate change resilience is complex and there are no simple solutions. Everyone has an important role to play: NGOs, universities, government, and the private sector. To build inclusive and equitable UCCR across Asia it will require these different actors to come together to build the capacity of practitioners to implement climate change programs, to align government policies and the private sector’s day-to-day operations with gender equitable UCCR principles, and ensure that the ACCCRN Network is internally sound and sustainable.
*) Anna James is currently pursuing her Masters in Global Human Development at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, specializing in education and the role of gender in development. She spent the summer working with Mercy Corps’ ACCCRN team in Jakarta, Indonesia. She can be reached at email@example.com.