2 – 6 September 2019 — UN-Habitat in partnership with Arcadis successfully concluded this year’s Shelter Academy that took place between the 2 – 6 September 2019 in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Focused on practical and theoretical urban measures for climate adaptation and mitigation, the participants consisting of high-level local officials, senior-level policy and decision-makers from 10 different countries actively participated in workshops, case studies, one-on-one expert sessions, and fieldtrips to key sites in the Netherlands.
The workshop was enhanced by guest speakers from Waternet on the water board of Amsterdam, Municipality of Rotterdam on its proactive climate change adaptation measures, Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) on a prioritization tool for decision-making, and Leiden Municipality on (water)governance. The participants also visited the ZOHO district of Rotterdam, known for its climate proof measures, Kinderdijk windmills, as well as canals of the City of Amsterdam.
The evaluation of the programme showed that 100% of participants strongly agreed or agreed that the workshop was a valid use of their time and that they could think of tangible ways it would positively affect their work. As explained by Nontsundu Ndonga from the Umhlathuze Municipality in South Africa, the skills she has acquired “will take the climate action a step further in my municipality, especially around collaborative action with partners at the local level, along with the institutionalization of SDGs”.
On a scale between 1 (lowest) – 5 (highest), participants found what they learned about good practices from the Netherlands very useful (4.4). Alex Nthiwa, a participant representing the County Government of Makueni, stated, “having the expert sessions and learning about water management, innovative ways of growing trees and forestry in desert areas, and water boxes, was very interesting for me and I think that is a technology that can really work in my home town and also the county of Makueni.”
In addition, participants also found that they were empowered by the Shelter Academy (4.6) and found the training useful in terms of the knowledge acquired about feasible climate change mitigation and adaptation actions (4.3). This sentiment was shared by Malebogo Kruger, Mayor of Lobatse Town Council, who enjoyed learning about good practices from fellow participants and experts. She found that the prioritization tool on climate action, developed by UN-Habitat and IHS, was “eye-opener”. On the whole, the whole experience made her “well-informed and empowered when it comes to the adaptation and mitigation of climate change.”
“I come from is a semi-arid area and having the expert sessions and learning about water management, innovative ways of growing trees and forestry in desert areas, and water boxes, was very interesting for me and I think that is a technology that can really work in my home town and also the county of Makueni.”
Alex Nthiwa, Kenya – Chief Officer or Lands, Physical Planning and Urban, Development, County Government of Makueni
“I have liked the good practices that I learned from my fellow participants and consultations with experts. The lecture that we had at HIS on the [prioritization] tool was an eye-opener. I feel that I have really been well informed and empowered when it comes to the adaptation and mitigation of climate change.”
Malebogo Kruger, Botswana, Mayor, Lobatse Town Council
“I have a few take-homes that I will try and implement at home as we are still at a very infantile stage of climate action [planning]. Those take-homes will assist me to take the climate action of the municipality a step further, especially around collaborative action with partners at local level and also institutionalization of SDGs as part of the climate action.”
Nontsundu Ndonga, South Africa – Deputy Municipal Manager, Umhlathuze Municipality
“I have been taking a lot of trainings in my life and I have to say that the Shelter Academy has been the best experience in terms of gaining knowledge and establishing relationships that I’ve had. There is something very special about the Shelter Academy. There is first the knowledge, understanding how things work in a way that can be adapted to a country. Then there is this other part about establishing relationships with other professionals from other countries, with private sector firms that are leading the research and action in the world. It has been a very rewarding for my own professional growth and personally.”
Rose May Guignard, Haiti – Senior Urban Planner, National Government, Port-au-Prince
“Coming here, I have learned so much about climate issues, adaptation and mitigation and how to handle water. In Accra, one of our major issues is flooding. I have learned that we can find better ways of dealing with water.”
Cecilia Akyeampong, Ghana – Head of Physical Planning Department, Ablekuma West Municipal Assembly
“The interaction with the trainers and all the experience and knowledge I have obtained during the Shelter Academy course will be very useful when I go home.“
Beng Hong Socheat Khemro, Cambodia – Director-General, General Department of Housing, Phom Penh
“I had little knowledge and awareness on climate change and urban planning [before]. Now, I have gained so much knowledge on how to handle climate adaptation and mitigation and I hope to get more knowledge and more experience by cooperating with the Shelter Academy and UN-Habitat.”
Saw Sandar Oo, Myanmar – Deputy Director, Urban Planning Authority, Yangon City Development Committee
“Being part of the Shelter Academy was a rich experience. During an intense week, we could combine knowledge and experiences through an action-oriented program. The training brings cutting edge expertise to implement climate action in cities, where city officials can discuss projects with experts as well as field visits to best practice project sites. Other exciting aspects of the program are peer exchange moments. The exchange brings to discussion technical and operational viable solutions, especially for developing contexts. Also, it strengthens the links between cities and favors the creation of a network of cities for climate adaptation.”
Gabriela Uchoa, Brazil – Head of Agenda 2030, Municipality of Teresina
“Meetings with experts on various topics were extremely important and helpful for us and for our experience and professional knowledge, which will be useful to serve my people as well as my city and country. Your cooperation and friendly support and guidance will be greatly appreciated and remembered. I came back with lot of knowledge and enthusiasm to do work on my project.
Mohammad Muneer Shah, Pakistan – Mayor, Town Committee Sakrand Local Government Department