This is an historic time for the war ravaged country of Somalia. The comparatively smooth transition to a new government headed by ex-peace activist and educational campaigner turned president – the 57 year old Hasan Sheikh Mohamad – has generated a new wave of optimism for the region’s future. This buoyant mood builds upon the rapid progress being made in the fight against radical Islamic group Al Shabaab, who until late last year, held much of southern Somalia under its sway. Now, thanks to unprecedented regional military cooperation bringing together Ugandan, Burundian, Kenyan forces, with Ethiopian troops, Somalia’s iconic capital of Mogadishu has been reclaimed, and the prized southern port city of Kismayo has all but been recaptured. Al Shabaab are well and truly on the back foot, and their future looks bleak.

And Somalis are seizing the moment for themselves. Members of the diaspora are flooding back to the country from as far afield as Australia, Norway and the United States, bringing with them a spirited entrepreneurialism and cash. Capitalising on the growing stability, new enterprises are springing up across the battle scarred streets of Mogadishu. Freshly painted coffee shops, newly constructed hotels, and electronics stores laden with the newest appliances from Dubai all are materialising from the rubble that has defined the past 20 years.

Of course, much remains to be done to ensure this brief moment in time heralds a sustained recovery from a history bleached by entrenched conflict, crippling corruption, and oppressive regimes. Somalia has often been described as ‘the world’s most failed state’, a label which rightly angers many Somali’s nowdays. Yet there is no denying that the region remains dangerously fragile. The biggest risk is that this volatile time of political transition sparks more fracturing rather than unification, incites new conflict rather than peaceful settlement over timeworn issues.

The balance hangs in the hands of the Somalis themselves. Yet the regional powers have a critical role to play in ensuring their support is not driven by self-interest at the expense of wider stability. And the international community, in Somalia’s case a growing range of actors with increasingly diverse interests, must remain consistent and coherent in its support of the country’s rebirth.

My role as Senior Stabilisation Adviser for the British Office for Somalia, sees me heading a team at the sharp end of the international community’s assistance to the region. We are charged with working in areas newly ‘liberated’ by military forces, helping to restore stability, and create the conditions for longer term recovery.  It is certainly no easy task, yet the early signs of progress are appearing – we are supporting Somalis to establish local administrations, implement community security programmes and rebuild basic infrastructure like roads and markets.

Yet one-off stabilisation projects will only go part way to solve the problem. The real challenge in such a fragmented, fractured landscape, to Somalis and internationals alike, is to find new ways of forging concerted action. Action that brings together the Somali businessman from London keen to invest in his old neighbourhood, with the newly appointed District Governor, with a group of young unemployed men, with the women from the local market, with the head of the African Union military unit, alongside the police commissioner… to decide for themselves what the real problems are, and how they are going to solve them together.

Crack that, and the rubble of Somalia’s history may just be swept aside once and for all.

In the framework of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in May 2010 in Bonn/Germany, South Africa, South Korea and Germany launched the International Partnership on Mitigation and MRV. The overall aim of the Partnership is to support a practical exchange on mitigation-related activities and MRV between developing and developed countries in order to help close the global ambition gap.

To this end, the activities of the Partnership contribute to the design and effective implementation of ‘Low-Emission Development Strategies’ (LEDS), ‘Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions’ (NAMAs) and ‘Measuring, Reporting and Verification’ (MRV) systems.

Bringing together climate experts from a variety of countries, the Partnership seeks to foster mutual learning between peers, identify best practices, establish a shared mitigation-related knowledge base, and disseminate lessons learnt. This will contribute to the building of trust, capacity and expertise, allowing countries to find nationally appropriate solutions to address and combat climate change.

Within this context, technical workshops offer the opportunity for members of the International Partnership on Mitigation and MRV to immerse into particular topics of individual interest within the spectrum of mitigation and MRV. Offering technical workshops, the Partnership aims at contributing to an in-depth understanding of key aspects critical to the implementation of ambitious climate policies.  During the workshops, participants from developing countries may together work on strategies and roadmaps for mitigation policies and measures of their individual countries.

The first technical workshop of the International Partnership on Mitigation and MRV took place in June 2012 for negotiators from member countries of the Partnership dealing with mitigation issues.It analysed the existing UNFCCC framework for MRV, identified necessary requirements and interest regarding MRV in developing countries, and supported  informed decision-making in the negotiations.

Wasafiri Consultant, Sampa Kalungu, was contracted by GIZ to facilitate the workshop, ensuring a participatory approach that promoted exchange of knowledge and experiences from participants. The workshop was a strong success, with participants leaving better able to harness their MRV in order to confidently represent developing countries at international climate change negotiations.

I recently returned from the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual Africa meeting in Cape Town. I attended to support a high-level meeting focussed on scaling-up public-private initiatives that will help smallholders become more commercially successful. The meeting was attended by Presidents and Ministers from governments across Africa; heads of international agencies such USAID, IFAD and the African Development Bank; business leaders from mullti-nationals such as Pepsico, Yara, Kraft and Swiss Re; and, unlikely as it may seem, me! How did I find myself the smallest fish in a pond full of very big ones? This happened through the convergence of some long-term personal and strategic goals.

A few years ago, I was asked by the UK’s Department for International Development to consider how the private sector could be engaged in support of agricultural development. I ended up recommending to DFID that they supported country-level facilitation of public-private partnerships to integrate smallholders in to commercially viable markets. However as part of a stretched team, and with an impending change of government, there was no political impetus and, regardless how welcome my suggestions were, they led to no consequential action.

However, developing my report for DFID gave me the excuse to knock on the door at WEF and establish some relationships. I maintained these, and in the meantime established myself in a key role coordinating the engagement of Development Partners for CAADP – a pan-African movement to boost agricultural production and thereby address poverty and hunger. This year CAADP agreed that it was a top priority to leverage the technical, financial and human resources of the private sector. At the same time, I was aware that, driven by their multinational membership, WEF had pioneered a couple of promising public-private partnerships in Tanzania and Mozambique, and was looking to scale-up their efforts. WEF’s limiting factor was finding countries where there was strong political leadership in place that would want to work on such initiatives. Earlier this year I was able to connect the effort by WEF and the effort by CAADP by introducing key people to each other.

The event at WEF Africa was the result of bringing together the public-sector-led CAADP efforts, and the private-sector-led WEF efforts. This was the right political moment and the result is remarkable. Top-level political commitment was secured from across sectors for a scaling up of initiatives across Africa. In the next year we expect to see new partnerships launched in 6 countries. The Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania provides a practical example of one of these. In this key farming region, businesses are establishing new hubs through which to work with small-scale farmers, providing inputs such as fertiliser or seeds, establishing storage facilities, processing commodities, and finding markets for products. The government is investing in infrastructure such as roads, rail and irrigation. Development Partners are providing catalytic finance and capacity development. By acting together everyone is establishing the confidence required to establish functioning markets. These initiatives translate a great deal of talk by policy-makers in to action. The involvement of the private sector will only last if they see results, and as such this creates a tangible sense of hustle and focus that is often absent from development processes.

I played an enabling role at the WEF event in Cape Town –  writing briefing notes for participants, helping facilitate a roundtable discussion with the Rwandan Minister of Agriculture, writing a follow-up report and participating in the working group that will take the outcomes forward. The achievement I am really proud of was to maintain a long-term strategic focus on the value of public-private partnership for agricultural development, building relationships in that space, and then, when the political moment was finally right, I was able to make some key connections so that others with much greater power and influence could multiply their impact by working together.

The context: The world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are the ones most affected by Climate Change. Yet they bear little responsibility for humankind’s contributions to the problem. Achieving a fair and legally-binding deal from multilateral climate negotiations has become quite simply an issue of survival for the most vulnerable.

Wasafiri’s role: Wasafiri consultant Liberal Seburikoko has been contracted to lead Climate Analytics’ work in Africa, providing LDC’s with real-time, cutting-edge scientific, political and strategic support for global Climate Change negotiations.

Generating action: The capacity of Africa’s poorest countries – those most affected by Climate Change – to negotiate a fairer deal at global Climate Change forums has been greatly increased by Liberal’s work. LDCs are in a stronger position than ever before to ensure their interests as considered alongside those of the world’s richest nations.

The context: With three-quarters of Africa’s poor living in rural areas and depending on agriculture for their livelihoods, governments recognise that boosting agricultural productivity offers a key strategy for alleviating poverty and hunger. In 2009, the African Union’s plan for agriculture (CAADP) reached critical momentum with 20 countries working on new robust plans for agriculture. At the same time, the international community sought avenues through which to invest in tackling the food crisis, which now means 1 billion people, are hungry. CAADP provided a great opportunity, but only if African governments and Development Partners could establish ways of working together.

Wasafiri’s role: Wasafiri consultant Ian Randall, pulled together a team including Liberal Seburikoko, to facilitate a meeting at the UN in Addis Ababa, through which 18 African and 15 donor governments came to a common agreement on how to work together on CAADP. The resulting guidelines can be downloaded here. Since then Ian has worked for DFID, GIZ and USAID to support co-ordination between Development Partners as they align behind CAADP.

Generating action: The meeting was dubbed “The Addis Consensus” and heralded as a watershed moment in effective partnership by the international community to tackle the food crisis. Many African governments are developing strong agricultural plans that look set to receive additional donor finance. In Rwanda, the CAADP plan has seen agricultural growth leap from .7% to 15% and donors recently pledged a further $83 million.

Ian Randall facilitating a session

Ian Randall facilitating a session