When Training Is (and Isn’t) the Solution

Training can take many shapes – institutional twinning, briefings, participation in networks, study tours, and on-call assistance are just some possible options. Traditional training seminars are only one tool out of many.
  • {{"article.by"|translate}} Susan Legro
  • {{"article.posted"|translate}} 01-06-2020

When Training Is (and Isn’t) the Solution

Training can take many shapes – institutional twinning, briefings, participation in networks, study tours, and on-call assistance are just some possible options. Traditional training seminars are only one tool out of many.


Recently, the UNDP-GEF project “Strengthening institutional and technical Macedonian capacities to enhance transparency in the framework of the Paris Agreement,” also known as the CBIT project, undertook a training needs assessment.

Training is included in all GEF projects, and it’s easy to understand why. Most projects assume that when people have more skills, they can do more to address environmental problems. Training is also relatively easy to provide and report on – what’s not to like? But does it get us where we want to be in terms of fighting climate change?



Training for What?


The first step in the training needs assessment was to consider the goals of the project and the bigger goals of North Macedonia in the area of climate change. These key goals are achieving its Nationally Determined Commitment [link] and meeting its reporting requirements under the Paris Agreement.

The second step was to determine the skills needed to meet these goals. We surveyed 26 stakeholders working on climate change policy and programs in North Macedonia. 17 of the respondents were government officials, and 69% were women.



Training Isn’t Always the Solution


The survey asked several questions about problems when reporting on climate change. In some cases, training would be an effective way to address these problems. For example, training on procedures would be helpful to address data collection from local governments and large enterprises, a problem that was mentioned by several respondents. Another problem mentioned was a lack of understanding about how climate change was related to various sectors. Training would be helpful here, too.

However, training is only effective in strengthening individual capacity. It can’t address higher-level capacity problems. For example, it can’t solve the problem of an organization that does not have enough staff (an organizational capacity problem) or problems related to the lack of legislation on climate change reporting (an institutional capacity problem).



The Most Common Training Needs? Adaptation


The survey asked stakeholders what kinds of training they and/or their staff might need for reporting under Article 13 of the Paris Agreement. Their answers are as follows:

*Respondents could list more than one answer.

Nearly half of the responses identified vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation as the topics where the most training was needed. This is understandable: the modalities, procedures, and guidelines for reporting on adaptation in the form of the Adaptation Communication are still under development, but countries will need to apply them by the end of 2024. Greenhouse gas emissions calculations were also selected, which is also understandable, as new skills need to be applied when moving from one tier of reporting to another.



Biggest challenges? Time and turnover


The survey also asked stakeholders to list potential problems when training staff or experts. More than half of the responses identified lack of time for training (52%). For this reason, the training needs assessment recommends providing support on an as-needed basis using peer networks and institutional twinning. This will allow experts to get answers to their particular questions quickly and without having to leave the office.

The second most common problem cited was staff turnover (24%). Here the training needs assessment recommends providing briefings and briefing books for incoming management and higher-level political appointees – this introductory “training” can be provided quickly, while the briefing books can serve as a reference on key climate change reporting concepts. At the technical level, the training needs assessment recommends repeating training sessions during the projects and training trainers in order to address the needs of new technical staff.



Traditional training sessions are only one tool in the toolbox


As the section above illustrates, training can take many shapes – institutional twinning, briefings, participation in networks, study tours, and on-call assistance are just some possible options. Traditional training seminars are only one tool out of many.

If you’d like to learn more about the training needs assessment and the resulting CBIT project training plan, a recording of a webinar with the presentation of the results is available here .

Susan Legro

Susan Legro is a senior consultant on climate change and has worked on projects that address climate change for more than two decades. She has edited several National Communications and funding requests for climate change reporting in Europe and Eurasia.

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