FCFA’s work in Namibia was carried out in the capital city, Windhoek, by FRACTAL and led by the University of Namibia. FRACTAL aims to explore the decision-making process in southern African cities, to support how cities respond to the risks associated with the effects of climate change and the pressures of rapid social, economic and environmental change.
Learning labs are engagements strongly focussed on mutual and integrated learning about identified development issues in cities. Drawing strongly on serious gaming, mess mapping and even improvised drama to encourage building trust, openness, and transparency, the labs had significant impacts and outputs in many of the cities. Learning labs played an important role in starting discussions around climate change means in Namibia, and how the impacts of climate change in Namibia may affect the development of Windhoek.
The Embedded Researcher (ER) approach was adopted by FRACTAL to bridge the science-policy divide (most notably for climate science). An early career researcher from the University of Namibia was appointed as an ER to work within the City of Windhoek.
The aim of this approach was to co-explore and co-produce knowledge, creating and sustaining learning opportunities to integrate climate information into cities, strengthening urban governance networks and sharing lessons between African cities and beyond. In Windhoek, the ER played a vital role in ensuring sustained engagements around climate issues and impacts of climate change in Namibia, in particular supporting the ICCSAP in the City.
Climate Risk Narratives are stories of three climate futures for Namibia that have ideally been co-produced using a diversity of knowledge sources and perspectives. The co-production of knowledge uses climate information with stories of plausible futures from a wide range of stakeholders to bring together climate information and local knowledge into Climate Risk Narratives that can broaden conversations across sectors. In Windhoek, these narratives reflected on a hotter and drier climate to demonstrate how climate change in Namibia would impact water security in Windhoek, as well as impacting various other sectors.
FRACTAL developed the distillation framework as an attempt to map out some guiding principles, concepts and processes to inform climate information communication. Information distillation in Windhoek, commenced through engagement around the first Climate Risk Narratives.
This engagement highlighted key local insights that were missed by the narratives and also raised the issue of framing the challenge as negative storylines that are ineffective in getting stakeholder buy-in, as opposed to positive outcomes of interventions. Strong engagement by local youth representatives, during a Climate Change Awareness Workshop for City of Windhoek Junior Council, provided a forward-looking positive framing of successful implementation of policies and plans.
The emergence of the Integrated Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (ICCSAP) process provided a valuable path to impact and the revised narratives, using the distillation framework, provide key storylines in the ICCSAP. Targeted climate science training for councillors focussed on the underlying assumptions, interpretations, limitations, confidence, and uncertainty of the exact effects of climate change in Namibia, and built understanding and trust between disciplinary experts and decision-makers.
Learning Labs is a transdisciplinary process involving co-producing research questions that are relevant for all actors, including academics and practitioners, and knowledge that contributes to answering these questions. FRACTAL’s Learning Labs approach in Windhoek partly contributed to a shift in how the City viewed climate issues, most notable was the reframing of their climate response plan into a broader response with an Integrated Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (ICCSAP) rather than the sectoral Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (CCSAP), which was initially envisioned.
The first Learning Lab in Windhoek in March 2017 played an important role in framing the impacts of climate change in Namibia, with a variety of stakeholders co-exploring relevant ‘burning issues’ in Windhoek. The biggest issues identified by participants were water insecurity, and the lack of access to energy and services in informal settlements in Windhoek.
Later in 2017, the second of these Learning Labs introduced stakeholders to the proposed ICCSAP and presented preliminary results of the water security research being conducted by FRACTAL partners. After the second Learning Lab, stakeholders identified key next steps for the ICCSAP being:
These steps were supported through FRACTAL, and in order to improve the technical capacity of the City at least two climate science training workshops were implemented.
At the third Learning Lab in August 2018, FRACTAL facilitated dialogues about water and energy. This allowed stakeholders to co-explore key issues and concepts, while climate information training increased stakeholders’ knowledge of climate systems and climate modelling. The lab also reflected on the way forward for the ICCSAP and the sustainability of the “co-learning” work to support the implementation of Namibia climate change policy and the response plan.
Two FRACTAL representatives from Gaborone (from the University of Botswana and the City of Gaborone) attended this lab to learn from Windhoek stakeholders, as they had initiated discussions in Botswana to develop their own city-specific climate change plan.
This prepared stakeholders for the final Learning Lab in June 2019, where the progress of FRACTAL in addressing burning climate change issues in cities was reflected on. The Learning Lab provided a platform for stakeholders from Windhoek, Maputo and Durban to share and learn from the experiences of other FRACTAL cities. FRACTAL colleagues presented research on the factors that have influenced the “Windhoek Managed Aquifer Recharge Scheme” and participants considered how lessons from this research could be integrated into the development of the Master Water Plan for Windhoek, initiated at that time of the last lab. Participants also brainstormed ways to integrate climate information into this plan.
While the learning labs aimed to improve the capacity within the City of Windhoek, much of the final event reflected on whether the work had stimulated human agency to ensure the sustainability of FRACTAL’s work. The extension phase of FRACTAL will focus on supporting the implementation of the ICCSAP (codesigning Monitoring and Evaluation) and, where possible, informing the Water Masterplan.
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