Exporting knowledge

Inclusive Economy29 Jun 2011Evert-jan Quak

Last week the Knowledge Network on Sustainability, Climate and Energy (an initiative of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs) organised their last meeting, a South-North Dialogue on Knowledge on Water-related climate change adaptation last week. A group of young professionals from 6 countries (15 from developing countries and 4 from the Netherlands) was working one week to assess the strengths of the Dutch water sector in terms of knowledge.

Adaptation against climate change is becoming an increasingly important part of the development agenda in developing countries most at risk from climate change. The week addressed the best knowledge on water management from the Netherlands and tried to find out if knowledge in the Netherlands can match with the adaptation needs and demands from the developing countries.

One of the main issues the participants raised in their final report was the need for capacity development (especially practical implementation and science and applied research) and the need for knowledge development (especially regional scenarios models). Awareness and supporting networks have less priority, the young professionals concluded.Some critical notes came from the audience. First there was the remark that there was a lack in the dialogue program on what the Dutch can learn from the knowledge generated in the developing world and in particularly how the Dutch high-tech approach is useful for implementation in developing countries.

Secondly, there must be a focus on South-South dialogue as well. A North South dialogue is like the auctions of flowers in the Netherland where flowers from all around the world are transported to the Netherlands to export them again.

Thirdly and a very interesting contribution to the discussion was the notion that the G77 negotiators themselves are telling in the climate negotiations that capacity development isn’t needed, only money and implementation. A debate started about the definition of capacity development. The conclusion was that the negotiators are looking for a mature relationship between North and South. Capacity development in a much broader definition still is important for the choices countries have to make on spending money on climate change adaptation, implementation and monitoring.

Water knowledge is an export product of the Netherlands. Some examples were presented during the meeting, from the Rotterdam Climate Change Initiative, Connecting Delta Cities (C40) to Africa Re-greening Initiative. Question remains how these initiatives can include the demands of the poor? Do they fit well enough for country-specific climate change adaptation?