Assessing Institutional and Governance Partnerships for Climate-Compatible Development in sub-Saharan Africa

Project summary

Climate Compatible Development (CCD) aims to minimise harm caused by climate impacts, while maximising human development opportunities presented by a low emissions, more resilient future. In line with this aim, increasing climate finance, as well as the voluntary carbon market, present a valuable economic opportunity for developing nations. By harnessing these opportunities, countries can mitigate climate change (through enhanced carbon storage) and potentially deliver significant wins for adaptation and poverty reduction through CCD.

While carbon payments have been found to contribute to rural incomes, trade-offs with other ecosystem services and livelihood impacts and outcomes require careful consideration. Recent research reflecting on the lessons learnt from sustainable land management and community-based conservation initiatives stresses the importance of building on existing institutional and governance structures and processes. The role of private sector companies and NGOs in developing new opportunities and multi-stakeholder partnerships through international carbon credit schemes has also been identified as important. However there is a lack of studies and evidence assessing the role of different partnership structures in complex dynamic governance situations.

This research will contribute valuable and timely empirical data to the study of these issues by providing local- and country-scale analysis, focusing on areas of pressing poverty needs, carbon storage potential and a range of complex and dynamic governance situations across a suite of countries, with a view to sharing lessons across the southern Africa region. Identifying good practices in partnership-building, and experience-sharing to inform adaptation and mitigation policy and climate finance investments more broadly, is vital if the green growth potential offered by climate finance is to reach the poorest and most vulnerable groups.

Research process

The project will assess evolving case study settings in tropical forest and sub-humid miombo woodland systems of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia (both pilot countries in the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) programme receiving support for National Programme activities), and in the dry sub-humid miombo woodlands of Zimbabwe and Mozambique (non REDD pilot countries but where voluntary carbon schemes are developing).

The project goals will be achieved through 3 core activities:

  • A review of governance structures and institutional development and local-level costs, benefits and trade-offs in a selection of current community-based initiatives aimed at climate compatible development in each of the 4 study countries.
  • In-country workshops which bring together different stakeholders to build capacity by sharing experiences and improving understanding of successful and less successful current practices. One workshop will be held for stakeholders from Zambia and DRC; a second will be convened for those from Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
  • A regional knowledge-sharing workshop for stakeholders and policy makers from all countries at which partnership and governance models identified in activity 1 will be evaluated and their transferability assessed. This workshop will build on the outcomes of activities 1 and 2.

Project goals

This research seeks to:

a) Identify and analyse successful CCD models and institutional and governance partnership activities involving different combinations of stakeholders in complex and dynamic governance and political economy contexts in sub-Saharan Africa

b) Build capacity across sub-Saharan Africa by sharing experiences in delivering adaptation and poverty alleviation benefits to the poor that can also encourage land use and land management practices enhancing carbon storage.

Four countries (Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe) provide a regional case study focus to explore these issues. Project staff will work with private sector, NGO, Government and academic staff in each country to identify best practices and share insights on the opportunities provided for climate compatible development.


  • A report for policy makers outlining successful partnership and governance models, and setting out key considerations/policy recommendations.
  • Workshop reports highlighting synergies across sectors and experiences of a range of stakeholders.
  • A regional workshop report identifying the key ways in which governance models may need to be adapted for other complex and dynamic governance contexts. It will also outline a stakeholder-evaluated process that can be followed to enable appropriate changes to the models.
  • Best practice guidelines for community engagement and partnership, targeting traditional authorities and NGOs in the study countries.

We will also develop academic journal papers presenting the partnership and governance models, assessing their implications and providing a regional synthesis of emerging partnerships and lessons for their facilitation within both policy and voluntary carbon market led initiatives.

For more information please contact Lindsay Stringer: or Jen Dyer:

Publications and outputs


Good Practice Guidelines for Community Carbon Projects report

CDKN Mozambique Zimbabwe Workshop report

Unpacking partnerships to inform climate compatible development

Climate and Development Knowledge Network Concept Note (May 2012)