Improving leadership to kick-start climate change adaptation, from City-to-City

Written by Berry Gersonius, on 17 May 2018

Not too long ago, a story was published on the Global Partnership webpage about the “building leadership capacity to drive city-to-city learning on climate adaptation” project, also known as the City-to-City project (read it here). The project focusses on strengthening leadership capacity with government officers from four Vietnamese cities (Ho Chi Minh, Can Tho, Da Nang and Quy Nhon) to accelerate progress towards climate change adaptation. But how do leadership and climate change adaptation tie in together?

Leadership as a tool for climate change adaptation

Mr. Ahn Le, project coordinator at the Da Nang Climate Change Coordination Office, says that even though he might not be in a position to lead change yet, enhancing his leadership skills has helped him a lot in his job as a project coordinator. “I work with a lot of different stakeholders, especially those who are in leading positions. The skills that I have acquired during the workshops have given me the tools to better advise these ‘leaders’ and convince them of what I think is the best way to handle specific issues”.  Furthermore, he adds that the workshops have given him a new perspective on leadership, much like Dr. Quan said in the previous story. “You do not need to be the boss or the leader to show and use leadership skills, you can be an officer and advise and direct those who actually are in the position of creating change – that is also a kind of leadership” Mr. Le says.

“The knowledge I have acquired on leadership, this new perspective on what it entails, I use it every day” say Mr. Le. “I see that my leadership skills have improved, little by little, and I use it not only in my work at the Climate Change Coordination office, but also in my personal life. I try to transfer leadership skills into other things: I think of ways I can better lead myself.” Dr. Cuong, who is originally from Quy Nhon city, but who currently works at the Environment Protection Agency of Binh Dihn city, also adds that leadership is an important skill to be able to advocate for climate change adaptation policies. Dr. Cuong, says that “I think that changes in policy are important to solve climate change issues and implement climate change adaptation”. He further adds that “strong leadership skills are important when pushing for policies on mitigating climate change”.

Listen and learn

But how can a project such as City-to-City push for climate change adaptation in Vietnam? “Understanding the concept of leadership, the skills a leader requires and understanding what kind of leader you are, those are the two important things I take from the workshops” says Dr. Cuong. “But the fact that we shared our own experiences working in the field of climate change, learning about climate change issues in other cities and how they plan to implement climate change adaptation strategies, that is perhaps even more valuable” he adds.

“Actually, I think it is the relations that we have created during the workshop that can help with implementing climate change adaptation” Mr. Le says. “I had the chance to meet peers and senior project officers from the other cities. I had the chance to learn a lot from them. All the participants deal with climate change in their respective cities, and through them I also gained a lot of information on their strategies on implementing climate change adaptation, new approaches and perspectives that are very beneficial for my current work as project coordinator at the Climate Change Coordination Office of Da Nang”.

Perhaps, the impact of the project cannot be measured immediately when it comes to climate change adaption. However, the project has sparked small changes amongst these climate change professionals, and small changes in the initial conditions may lead to large changes in the results. The network these participants have created amongst themselves is perhaps the most tangible impact the project has cultivated. These professionals continue to cooperate with each other on climate change adaptation. And as Dr. Quan said in a previous interview:  “when people work together, their voice is stronger”.

Read more about the Global Partnership programme and activities here

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