Leveraging CLA’s “Je Ne Sais Quoi” for East Africa’s Wilderness Landscapes
East Africa’s iconic natural capital spans national boundaries, industry sectors, and habitat types, delivering ecosystem services to 33 million people. To effectively protect and manage these landscapes in the face of climate change and other threats, policymakers at the local, national, and regional level need evidence that captures the full value of the region’s natural capital. Recognizing this need, the East African Community (EAC) wanted to increase their ability to make evidence-based transboundary policies and programs that improve land use and development. In response, USAID designed the Economics of Natural Capital in East Africa Program (NatCap), implemented by Environmental Incentives (EI) and Anchor Environmental Consultants (Pty) Ltd.
NatCap applied two key CLA principles – external collaboration and evidence-based decision-making – and, most importantly, this locally led project created space for the “je ne sais quoi” of CLA, emphasizing relationship building and connection over traditional metrics. Through the project, our team cultivated and maintained a cohort of diverse decision makers across Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda who determined what evidence was gathered through co-design, validated the evidence collected, and collectively adopted an Action Plan informed by that evidence. At the end of the project the EAC Technical Working Group moved to adopt the Action Plan, a critical step towards enacting evidence-based regional policies to protect natural capital. Today, development partners and policy makers alike can confidently and collaboratively make decisions based on evidence that is well reasoned, broadly supported, and ready for investment.
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