The Challenge

Although ECAS’s work often begins with informing responses to environment and development challenges, the success of such initiatives ultimately depends on effective implementation through research and capacity building. With right capacity and research evidence, the rule of law can emerge, enabling a culture of compliance and environmental improvement. Through its work on research, programs and policies, public awareness on critical issues, and publications on key dimensions of environment, ECAS helps grow the effectiveness and resilience of key links in the development and sustainable development by: Leveraging knowledge and learning to increase sustainable development effectiveness, facilitating open access to environmental information, enabling effective delivery of sustainable development priorities, working with governments to meet their sustainable development obligations, enhancing private sector and civil society contributions to achieve tangible sustainability results, and supporting efforts to ensure that natural resources are protected and benefit the vulnerable.
Achieving sustainable development requires evidence-based decision-making and requisite capacity in setting priorities, allocating resources and implementing effective intervention programmes. Yet, past experience shows that many obstacles impede capacity development and application of research evidence in such decision-making processes in sub-Saharan Africa:
• Capacity building efforts are fragmented or missing: Decision-makers and practitioners usually lack targeted, synthesized and timely trainings and research outputs that they can easily access and use.
• Capacity building outputs not appropriately packaged: When it exists, most capacity building opportunities are expensive and in technical formats that are not amenable for use by decision-makers and practitioners.
• Input of end-users rarely taken into account: Decision-makers and practitioners are hardly consulted or contribute to defining the capacity and knowledge gaps thereby creating a disconnect between the needs and available options.
• Local capacity to link research evidence, policy and programme development is weak: Many development actors in Africa lack expertise in synthesis, translation and use of research evidence in decision-making processes.
• Capacity building policy provisions driven by politics: Policymaking processes are often driven by strong partisan political and ideological interests, which diminish the availability, acquisition and application of necessary capacities.