Capacity building in Sustainable Environmental Management

A crucial time for the global environment

This time of year is associated with the major international summits for the protection of the environment – and this year they are even more crucial. The first part of the 15th Conference of the Parties of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) has just ended with the adoption of the Kunming Declaration outlining the ambitions of the signatory states in terms of nature protection. The aim of COP15 is to reach a framework for restoring biodiversity by 2030, and to be “living in harmony with nature” by 2050.

COP15’s sister event, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), opens on 31 October. The challenge is to agree on the final technical details of the Paris Agreement, the new rules for carbon markets, and the transparency framework.

The two events are closely linked: “Because climate change and biodiversity loss are intertwined, with the potential for both win–win solutions and vicious cycles of destruction, they must be addressed together” (New York Times, 14 October 2021). Biodiversity loss and climate change are two sides of the same coin.

More than ever, we need to recognise that climate change, biodiversity loss and the food system are closely linked. Biodiversity is the basis of sustainable food systems. At present, the way we produce food is responsible for a third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – and it is the main cause of biodiversity loss. Our food system has a major impact on our planet. We need to adopt good practices for nature and biodiversity that can reduce the impacts of the food system and agriculture.

Environmental sustainability

Training is one of the three pillars of COLEACP’s sustainability commitment.
Our environmental training courses present two key tools: environmental risk analysis, which identifies the environmental impact of producers’ practices; and life-cycle assessment, a standardised method for carrying out an environmental assessment of production. In its production itinerary, a horticultural company needs to consider from the outset the issue of recycling or recovering the “waste” produced during the cultivation process.

View an introduction to our Sustainable Environmental Management self-study course

Training the trainers

One of COLEACP’s newer training themes is Sustainable Environmental Management. Within our “cascading” training approach, ACP experts have benefited from capacity building in teaching methods, technical aspects of environmental sustainability, and presenting online courses. During 2020, 117 experts from 20 ACP countries were trained as trainers in this theme, supported by the Fit For Market programme.

Also, 38 experts took part in capacity building on providing distance learning courses through the COLEACP e-learning platform. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, group training had to be carried out online. The experts learned about the specific teaching approaches, digital tools and technical skills they need to successfully deliver remote training on Sustainable Environmental Management. Then environmental experts reviewed the training content that they plan to teach, based on COLEACP’s training manuals and notebooks.

Cascading the training

Since May 2021, pairs of our expert trainers have been delivering online group training to SMEs. Each pair specialises in presenting one of the following topics in Sustainable Environmental Management:

  • Sustainable soil management
  • Sustainable water management
  • Sustainable waste management and recovery
  • Sustainable air management
  • Sustainable management of production systems
  • Sustainable energy management
  • Sustainable management of biodiversity

View an introduction to our Sustainable water management training

More than 100 ACP companies have already completed at least one of these digital group training sessions, delivered in French or English. The target participants are supervisors from professional organisations, farm managers, agricultural technicians responsible for supervising producers, production managers, irrigation managers, processing managers, packaging managers, and quality and traceability managers.

“The training is perfect”
-Talent Ndige (Zimbabwe)

“The participants’ engagement was quite good hence it’s easy to connect to the practical situations at work”
– Daniel Otieno (Kenya)

“This course was very well executed, apart from [a need for] more reliable internet connections”
– Dean Avril (Jamaica)

Each training session is for a maximum of four weeks. Participants have the opportunity to follow:

  • activities in online self-learning mode, with a subsequent “diagnosis” (analysis of practices, identification and measurement of impacts, interactions with other environmental factors, etc.)
  • direct online debates and exchanges with experts in Sustainable Environmental Management
  • “training by doing” through guided exercises (coaching) to learn how to seek and identify sustainable solutions, and how to develop an action plan to restore and improve sustainability for their company.

To face the challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change, the COLEACP training focuses on the consequences of certain agricultural practices for the environment, so that horticultural companies can work to adopt more sustainable practices to reduce their impacts on biodiversity degradation and global warming. The trainings also provides tools to assess the resulting environmental risks and prioritise interventions.

At the end of the training, we ask companies if they would like to receive additional support through in-company coaching.

Thanks to experts and companies

We would like to highlight and congratulate the work of all the ACP experts who have already accomplished 21 digital sessions for companies from around 30 ACP countries. Also, we would like to thank all the companies that participated in these training sessions for their trust and commitment.

Following the resolutions of COP15 and COP26, we will continue to organise and improve our seven digital training topics on Sustainable Environmental Management with this new pool of environmental trainers.
View COLEACP’s Environmental Management e-learning here.

These activities are supported by the Fit For Market programme, implemented by COLEACP within the Framework of Development Cooperation between the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and the European Union, and co-funded by the French Development Agency (AFD).

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