The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH-Climate-Smart Land Use Project concluded the GIZ-SEARCA ASEAN Climate Leadership Programme (ACLP) with a virtual closing and awarding of certificates to 27 participants from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Held on 10 December 2020, the closing ceremony marked the end of the two and a half months (1 October to 11 December 2020) online leadership programme which discussed the role of land management for food security and climate change in the context of the ASEAN and its Member States.
Designed as a Leadership Journey, the programme aimed to strengthen key leadership skills in initiating and facilitating change processes and collective cross-sectoral transformative action in climate-smart land use. The online leadership programme consisted of the following modules: Module 1 – Introduction to the ACLP; Module 2 – Strengthening Your Knowledge Base; Module 3- Sensing and Presencing Journey; and Module 4- Closing the Journey.
The sessions leading up to closing ceremonies were highlighted by the presentation, per group, of the participants' proposed Change Projects to their peers, coaches and mentors, and their respective supervisors who were invited to attend the final presentations. The four Change Projects focused on the following "Urban Agriculture for the Youth," "Women Climate Warriors," "Nature and Private Sector Investments," and "Climate-Resilient Agricultural Village." During the final reflection, the participants shared that the programme has enhanced their understanding of the climate-smart land use concept, developed their leadership skills based on the Theory U, which is "an awareness-based method for changing systems." Participants also expressed that the programme has expanded their network at the regional level. Ms. Rafeah Rabiatun binti Othman, one of the participants from the Department of Agriculture- Malaysia, said that "during the change project work with my sub-group, I learned that instead of keeping on pushing forward to achieve goal, it is also fine to reflect and consider other options from different perspectives. It's like stepping back to leap forward."
A Way Forward, Applying the ACLP Knowledge and Experience
During the ACLP virtual closing ceremony, Mr. Martin Hansen, Country Director Indonesia, ASEAN, and Timor-Leste GIZ and Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director, reflected on the relevance of leadership for driving transformational change towards a more resilient and low-carbon society and economy in ASEAN. They congratulated all participants for completing their leadership journey and highlighted that despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the participants have shown exceptional example for cross-country, cross-institution, and cross-sector collaboration, showcasing true ASEAN spirit.
ASEAN and its Member States have been addressing challenges related to climate change and food security through various regional policies and actions. However, managing complexities as sustainable land management and ensuring food security in the context of climate change will require further engagement at the national, regional, and international levels. In this context, individuals with vision and the ability to motivate others, facilitate dialogue and promote collaboration across sectors will be key.
Mr. Hansen and Dr. Gregorio both expressed their hope that the ACLP alumni will put their strengthened leadership skills and technical knowledge to good use. "The next important step is to apply this knowledge and experiences you gained to contribute for the positive changes in our world," Dr. Gregorio said in his closing remarks.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hansen encouraged the future leaders to continue their leadership journey "to further build on the knowledge and the experiences gained from this programme, and to continue to be a role model, and to inspire other people to be part of the change you want to see."
In line with the true ASEAN spirit, ACLP participants will stay connected through different media channels such as a new ACLP website to be hosted by SEARCA, a Facebook group, and virtual meetings. The ACLP documentation will be disseminated soon and knowledge products based on the programme's approach and content will be developed and shared across the region in the coming months.
The ACLP was supported by the project Climate-Smart Land Use (CSLU) in ASEAN with funding from the GIZ and in close cooperation with the ASEAN Secretariat. Jointly organized with SEARCA, the ACLP was also made possible through the efforts and contributions of, in terms of knowledge and expertise, ASEAN-Climate Resilience Network (CRN), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (FAO-RAP), the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Grow Asia, the Center for People and Forest (RECOFTC), and the Amsterdam Leadership Academy. The sessions were ably facilitated by Mr. Andre de Wit, Dean, Leadership Academy Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Ms. Rejani Kunjappan, Senior Program Officer, Training and Learning, RECOFTC-The Center for People and Forests, Thailand.