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COP27 was a special milestone for the Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA), signalling one year since its formal launch in Glasgow.

In addition to celebrating this anniversary, the ARA engaged in several events with members and partners that focused on strengthening its commitment to linking research with action for adaptation to climate change.

Below follows a summary of the Alliance’s four headline events, which capture the insights shared by expert speakers and the valuable work the ARA and its initiatives.

Bridging adaptation action and research

In this event, held at the Resilience Hub, the ARA showcased how it is delivering impact by bridging adaptation research and action on the ground. Specifically, by reflecting on key learnings from its Consultative Processes and micro-grant awards.

Victoria Matusevich, from ARA member Fundación Avina, opened the session with insights gained from a consultative process on financing climate resilience at the local level run in partnership with the ARA and the BASE initiative.

“We used these processes to learn from doing,” said Matusevich. “We want to implement different tracks of grants to effectively understand what happens on the local level and how we make more resources reach the local level more simply and quickly.”

Joanes Atela, from ARA member the Africa Research and Impact Network (ARIN), then spoke about the key lessons learned from the 25 micro-grants awarded by the ARA to initiatives addressing burning adaptation issues in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. In particular, he noted a gap in articulating, supporting, and measuring the needs and actions of local communities in adaptation research and policy.

“A lot of work is going on, and a lot of projects are working with communities, but the outcomes and lessons remain at community level and there are no platforms through which the experiences and best practices in these communities can be tracked into the policy space,” he said.

ARA Head of Secretariat Jesse DeMaria-Kinney closed the session by formally launching a second round of micro-grant funding under the ARA’s Grassroots Action Research Micro-Grants.

Understanding urban risk

“We need to do research, but we need to do it differently,” said DeMaria-Kinney at this event with the International Development Finance Club (IDFC).

Focusing on understanding urban risk, the session took the format of a ‘Dragon’s Den’ where four panellists from India, Kenya, South Africa, and the Philippines shared their insights on understanding and tackling climate risk.

The session closed with ARA Co-chair Rosalind West, who spoke about the ARA’s work and recognition of urban areas as a vital theatre in the battle against climate change.

For example, she said, the ARA supported a learning initiative on understanding climate risk identified cities as a critically important geography for action against climate impacts. ARA’s innovative, peer-to-peer Tracking, Sharing and Learning initiative has taken up this theme for further investigation.

“The ARA has demonstrated a strategic and engaged approach to exploring these critical adaptation issues that we hope will result in cutting-edge and real-world solutions for tackling climate risk particularly in urban areas.” West said.

ARA: One year on

In an event celebrating its first year after launching at COP26 in Glasgow, the ARA shared how it is influencing programme design through the integration of the Adaptation Research for Impact Principles.

A panel discussion explored how the ARA’s co-creation model is influencing the design of new programmes to ensure inclusion and ownership of scoped programmes, while setting these up to be Southern led.

“Southern leadership in science is really about leadership of science and research coming out of the continent,” said ARA Steering Board member Judy Omumbo from Science for Africa.

“These are grassroots leaders in research – and these are the ones who come up with the solutions.”

The session ended with the launch of the ARA Co-creation Space to scope four new thematic programmes on smallholder agriculture, nature-based solutions (NbS), Least Developed Country (LDC) universities’ capacities to contribute to national adaptation planning, and urban resilience. 

ARA Steering Board member Jenny Frankel-Reed from the Agricultural Development Team at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation shared the programme’s commitment to the Principles and announced it will be working with the ARA Secretariat to develop a co-creation process focused on programme development for smallholder agriculture.

“We’re excited about the co-creation process and learning how do we fill the gaps between action and research, and how do we learn from that so that all the action and research that we do can be empowered by new ways of doing things,” she said.

Capacities for building climate resilience

In a session centred on insights and learning from three global initiatives working to build climate resilience, the ARA was joined by the Lima Adaptation Knowledge Initiative (LAKI), and the EPIC-Network. 

The ARA’s DeMaria-Kinney highlighted the importance of a paradigm shift of doing research differently to strengthen adaptation action.

Sharing how the ARA is advocating for a paradigm shift to bridge adaptation research and action by co-developing and conducting research for and with the end-users, Taylor Martin from ARA member Cowater International, highlighted the Alliance’s work in connecting members to share their learnings on adaptation action research. 

From this collective learning, she said taking a participatory approach and building cross sectoral partnerships were identified as essential elements of success.

Tarek Sadek, UN-ESCWA, shared how the LAKI process has helped to identify the priority adaptation knowledge gaps in the Middle East and North Africa region and is currently focused on the science-policy interface.

Building on the theme of policy, Maha Balbaa, from the British University of Egypt, discussed how students at her university were part of a vulnerability assessment mapping based on which a policy roadmap was developed to inform policy development.

She stressed the importance of working collectively (across national and international levels), as well as empowering students and capacity-building of youth through engagement in research projects.

Kay Phanthuwongpakdee, from the EPIC-Network Asia, highlighted the EPIC model of connecting students to challenges faced in their local communities and the success of that approach in providing opportunities for youth to learn and gain experience while allowing them to make a positive impact locally.

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