Mainstreaming Climate Change: Showcase the Green Future

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Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. It affects livelihoods, governance,  health, and social economic development and poses a risk to the achievement of sustainable development goals and. To address this challenge effectively, mainstreaming climate change has become a necessity. Mainstreaming climate change refers to the integration of climate considerations, climate adaptation, and climate mitigation strategies into various policies, programs, and projects across multiple sectors of society. This ensures that climate change is not tackled as a standalone or niche issue but becomes a fundamental and pervasive consideration in all decision-making processes and actions.

At Helvetas, we place the green transition at the forefront of our strategic priorities. This commitment reflects our aspiration to mainstream and integrate sustainability across every aspect of our organization, extending it to our existing portfolios, upcoming projects, and organization life. We use a comprehensive approach, including capacity building, investments in people, enhanced collaboration practices, knowledge sharing, advocacy, and systemic change.

Walk the Talk: Transform Your Organization in a Green One

Green transition is a transversal topic at Helvetas, applied at organizational and project levels. In pursuit of sustainable change, we have developed the “Navigation tool for cross-cutting themes and approaches.” (see the latest the latest webinar on this topic for more). This innovative tool reflects Helvetas’ commitment to transforming into a green organization. The tool provides a structured framework for evaluating the integration of cross-cutting and sensitive themes into intervention programs. Projects are classified into five distinct levels, ranging from ‘negative,’ where the project does not consider and has a negative effect on national/regional policy, legal and regulatory framework for climate action, to ‘transformative,’ where the project is fully geared towards policy change by advocating for inclusive, just, and ambitious climate laws and policies and/or their proper and timely implementation.

By utilizing this tool, both Helvetas and its projects assess their alignment with climate policies and explore opportunities for improvement. This process includes identifying where a project stands on the continuum and formulating strategies for enhancing its climate responsiveness.

Policy Change as an Entry Point with Multiplying Effects on Climate Change

Finding the entry points and making the case is the critical first step in setting the stage for mainstreaming climate change. It involves identifying policy changes that have multiplying effects on climate action and creating a foundation for integrated climate considerations across various sectors and decision-making processes.

Policy Level Entry Points

The Risi Albania is a Helvetas innovative project supporting the private sector growth with the goal of creating new attractive jobs for young people. The sectors where the project operates (Agri-business, Tourism, ICT, Skills and Career Development, etc.) are largely affected and can affect climate change and the environment. The project, after initially working with lead private firms, began addressing potential adverse environmental effects also at policy level. The project introduced and adopted international quality standards in agrifood and tourism sectors as enabling factors to achieve market access and mitigate negative effects on the environment and, potentially, on climate change. It also supported training providers to introduce green skills programs to meet future rising demand. Entering to the third and last Phase, the project shifted the focus beyond working with a few lead firms including the public and private actors and raised the issues of adopting quality standards at the policy and at the meso level. Through these efforts, the project transitioned from being climate blind to climate-sensitive, gaining awareness of the standards and advocating for them at the policy level.

Vocational Education Training Entry Point

In accordance with Article 6 of the “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,” the development and implementation of education and training programmes regarding climate change are vital for mainstream climate change. The Risi Albania, which focuses on skills development and supports training programs to meet market demand in sectors of ICT, Tourism, Agri-business, Career Development, and Vocational Education etc. places a strong emphasis on the green transition. In this regard, the project has foreseen supporting training providers to adopt the training programs and to introduce training programs on green skills.

Environmental Assessment Criteria Entry Point

Demos, a Helvetas project in Kosovo, which supports the 38 municipalities of the Republic of Kosovo in achieving more democratic local governance and better municipal management provides performance-based grants for municipalities acknowledges that most of the locally implemented projects have an environmental impact. Taking a systemic approach, Demos allows municipalities to independently prioritize, design, and manage everything according to their own rules and procedures. While respecting autonomy and working on the system, Demos supports the national government in monitoring and measuring municipal performance and recently is promoting even compliance with environmental and climate change issues. Furthermore, Demos incorporates environmental factors into social audits.

Start from Yourself – Showcase the Green

Helvetas Kosovo Country Office has taken significant steps in promoting environmental responsibility. The establishment of a green team underscores the commitment to sustainable practices. Initiatives such as transitioning to digital filing/archiving, reducing plastic usage, and promoting recyclable products within the office premises are all steps in the right direction. Additionally, the team is actively considering an energy efficiency audit to minimize the office’s carbon footprint. Plans to provide training to staff members on environmental and climate change matters further signify the commitment to sustainable practices. Helvetas Kosovo also strives to expand its portfolio in climate change and the environment building of a showcase in Western Balkan.