GDN worked closely with the successful applicants to provide them with the support needed (beyond funding) to define the scope of research, effective implementation of the research agenda and monitoring of the research outcomes throughout the grant period.
GDN also engaged a panel of advisors to mentor and support the selected research teams throughout the period of each of the research projects. Each research team was assigned a Scientific Advisor, to provide hands-on guidance on the research design, implementation, analysis and effective research outcomes. GDN actively promotes professional networking amongst researchers across the program and believes in cross-fertilization of ideas and knowledge. In support of these ideals GDN organizes peer-review workshops, facilitates presentations of research findings at appropriate international fora and policy interface wherever applicable.
In order to support the research teams, following activities were carried out by GDN, as per its program timeline:
A Research Methodology Workshop on “Natural Resource Management – Natural Wealth Accounting” in Mauritius on January 29-30, 2015.
A Global Peer-Review Workshop in Morocco, along with the 16th GDN Annual Global Development Conference, on June 10, 2015
A Research Communication workshop in Paris on November 25-26
A Policy Dialogue on “Natural Resource Management” in Paris on November 27, 2015
This first workshop, held in Mauritius on 29-30 January, aimed at refining researh project proposals: definition of the concepts, methodology, limits of the country-study. The research teams met with their respective scientific advisor, who was their mentor for the duration of the reserach project. In addition to these face to face meetings, they benefited from collective sessions on Natural Resources Management and Accounting. This workshop was an opportunity for every participant to discuss on the stakes involved in the management of natural resources and the environmental accounting.
The first day was dedicated to a presentation of valuations methods and tools as well as environmental accountability. The second day focuses on governance issues, environmental services accounting uptake by policy makers and other stakeholders.
To access the program and the biography of participants, click here
During this workshop, the teams presented the first results of their research to the Scientific Advisors, the members of the Scientific Committee, representatives from the Ministère des Affaires Etrangères et du Développement International et de l'Agence Française de Développement, and the GDN staff as well. The team received comments on the first draft of their paper from the audience and other teams. It l enhanced cross-fertilization between teams and also increased the quality of the papers. It built the capacity of researchers to present their work, to defend it and to take into consideration the criticisms. The lively discussions revealed the complexity of the questions related to environmental accounting, especially when it refers to methodologies. In line with GDN’s research capacity building mission, the afternoon was dedicated to face to face meetings between the mentors and the teams to take stock on the morning discussions and agree on a work plan to complete the study.
This workshop occured a day before the 16th Annual Global Development Conference. The topic of the annual conference was “Agriculture for sustainable growth: challenges and opportunities for a new green revolution”. One sub-theme of the conference was on natural resource management (more information on www.gdn.int/conf2015). The peer-review workshop, close to the event, was the opportunity for each research team, mentors and scientific committee members to have a larger audience and to interact with experts from all over the world.
This peer-review workshop had accredited as a Side Event of the conference “Our common under climate change” that will take place in Paris on 7-10 July. The conference was organized under the umbrella of ICSU, Future Earth, UNESCO and major French research institutions, with the support of the French Government. It was an opportunity for this program to be more visible, to create connections with other researchers and to anchor the program in the global agenda on natural resource management.
Pictures of the event: click here
Download the program from here
The workshop provided grantees with training on both written and oral communication to give them communication tools which they can use to disseminate the results of their projects incuding beyond the specific project(s) duration. These tools should increase the visibility of their research and increase the linkages between their results and the policy-making space.
The written part aimed to (i) understand how policymaking processes unfold and how research and policy interact, (ii) take a strategic approach to research communication, (iii) get familiar with policy briefs, (iv) get a general overview to getting published. This part provided them with tools to disseminate their findings, especially towards a policy maker audience.
During the part of the workshop dedicated to oral communication, the researchers received a training on how to present their research in 3 min in front of a non-specialist audience. They were trained to take into account the audience, to perceive the impact of non-verbal communication while speaking, to engage while speaking.
To conclude its one-year program on “Natural Ressource Management and Natural Wealth Accounting”, (supported by the Agence Française de Développement and the Minsitère des Affaires Etrangères et du Développement International), link this work with other initiatives, learn lessons and open a discussion with policy makers on natural capital accounting, GDN organized a policy dialogue on November 27 2015 at the Agence Française de Développement.
This policy dialogue, chaired by Pierre Jacquet, President of GDN, aimed at discussing natural capital accounting at the policy making level and bridge the gap between researchers and policy-makers. To open the discussions, each team presented its results in three minutes in front of the audience. Each member of the panel (namely Sofia Ahlroth (Senior Environmental Economist, The World Bank), Abdelhak Allalat (Directeur de la Comptabilité Nationale, Maroc), Osman Mahomed (Député, République de Maurice), Harison Randriarimanana (Conseiller spécial auprès du Président de la République de Madagascar) et Laura Recuero Virto (Ministère des Affaires Étrangères et du Développement International) was then able to react and presents his or her own opinion on the three following questions:
What is the current assessment of national accounting initiatives within each country?
What are the major obstacles faced in implementing natural accounts?
As a policy maker and development actor, how does each panelist use national accounts and what are his or her expectations?
The discussions emphasized the necessity of a multidisciplinary approach, especially through the collection of biophysical data and their analysis. Natural capital accounting gives new insights on the relations between the society and the environment, between different economic sectors and between different places. The accounts can thus be a powerful communication tool which can generate local debates during the process of building the accounts itself but also in developing scenarii based on the accounts. They reveal the costs of natural capital degradation and the impacts on ecosystems services and eventually the implication for the society and thus provide tools to inform policy-makers.
However, building the accounts can be a challenging process and developing countries might not always have neither the resources nor the capacity to carry it out. Collecting data and building the accounts requires knowledge on the ground on natural capital and ecosystem services and a local and contextualized understanding of their relations with the society. Moreover, translating biophysical data into accounts involves conceptual and methodological problems, that every country faces and that were highlight during the discussions. It is therefore critical to support research in developing countries regarding that matter in order to provide local researchers with tools to give information on natural capital and the services it provides in their country. This approach should lead to a better appropriation of the accounts by policy-makers in developing countries.
This type of initiative supporting research on natural capital accounting in developing countries is line with target 17.19 of the SDGs: “by 2030, build on existing initiatives to develop measurements of progress on sustainable development that complement GDP, and support statistical capacity building in developing countries“. The discussions also pointed out that natural capital accounting is very much in line with the target 15.9 “by 2020, integrate ecosystems and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes and poverty reduction strategies, and accounts” and the implementation of different international conventions: on biodiversity, on climate and on desertification.
Eventually, the representatives of Madagascar, Mauritius and Morocco all expressed their interest in pursuing the work and involving researchers from their respective countries to carry out this mission.
Pictures of the event: click here