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Day One of the European Development Days kicked off with a packed agenda full of thematic sessions, debates, brainstorming sessions and an opening ceremony with an exciting line-up featuring many world leaders including Ban Ki-Moon, Federica Mogherini, Uhuru Kenyatta sharing their visions for the next 15 years!

The focus of this year’s Dev Days is on the Sustainable Development Goals, I thought it important to focus on implementation and more specifically current best practices driving progress towards achieving these goals.  The ‘Quick wins or climate change development’ reflected this, speakers provided their experiences on the issue of ‘short lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), a group of air pollutants comprising of black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and hydrofluorocarbons,’ which is global in nature but requires local action and engagement throughout.

The two key takeaways from this session were:

Innovation in climate change adaptation needs to be localised to truly be a win

Panellist Pacifica Achieng, Director of Climate Change for the Government of Kenya,  commented on how innovations to produce alternative household energy systems end up not being used.  This is due to innovation not being tailored to the local experiences of the people using the technologies. She gave an example of clean energy cooking stoves which were being distributed in Kenya but had a very low adoption rate because the cooking stoves were difficult to move around and could not produce enough energy to prepare local foods.

This example illustrates that innovation processes must be owned entirely by communities who are going to use these products. Investment for alternative energy sources should not only focus on science and technology expertise but complimented with participatory development approaches that integrate users in the design process.

A ‘win’ in climate change means different things to different geographies

A key issue discussed in this session was how climate change priorities differ across regions. There are competing priorities, developing countries need to create alternatives for SLCPs such as household cooking stoves. While for industrialised countries, addressing the impact of greenhouse gases remains a critical focus. Up until now these differences, particularly around climate change priorities in different regions have made global agreements complicated both in addressing the challenge of coordinating action at the ground level and in ensuring political commitments.

However, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is now considered to be the solution to possibly all climate change problems across regions, the ultimate silver lining to solve all woes! Perhaps I’m too cynical or not a climate-change expert (yet) but I highly doubt that climate change and a cleaner planet comes before economic –gain and world power status.

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