A Critical Reflection on Learning from the FCFA Programme

Sub-Saharan Africa is highly vulnerable to weather and climate variability as well as future climate change. Therefore, in parallel to reducing climate related risks today, there is an urgent need to account for future climate risks in long-lived planning, policy making and projects. Large-scale investments and programming have been implemented to address climate risks and vulnerabilities in the region. The Future Climate For Africa (FCFA) programme represents one such large-scale initiative, emphasising a trans disciplinary approach to knowledge production and mobilisation through strengthened research and policy/decision-making capacity. The goal of this publication is to take stock of the lessons emerging from implementing this cross regional, use-oriented, and consortium-based research programme, in order to inform future investments into research on climate and development. We focus on three interrelated themes: project team members’ collective learning, leadership and capacity development, and knowledge co-production and research uptake. Insights on these themes were gathered through interviews and surveys with approximately 31% of the project team members of FCFA’s five research consortia, while ensuring a wide diversity in geographic location, gender, career stage, and roles within the consortia. This study highlights the need for programmes to entrust greater responsibility and accountability towards Southern partners, challenging traditional power dynamics and the typical definition of roles, such as Southern partners as network champions. Future programmes need to consider fostering a leadership model that is inclusive, equitable and focuses on distributed leadership, especially for South-South and South-North partnerships. Leadership and capacity are highly connected, in acknowledging this, there needs to be a shift towards ways in which leadership functions focus on the collective rather than the individual and how capacities have emerged to achieve broader outcomes.