Capacity building for climate change: Lessons from other regimes

Submitted by Kevin Adams | published 6th Oct 2017 | last updated 10th Jan 2020
Low-lying homes in Bangladesh


Because not all countries have equal capacity to adapt to climate change, and because those with the least capacity are hit first and hardest by impacts, it is critical that the Paris Agreement’s capacity building provisions are implemented successfully.

This brief is the second in a series summarizing research carried out for the 2017 AdaptationWatch Report. It presents recent work by Mizan Khan from North South University in Bangladesh, who argues that climate leaders must learn from existing work under other international regimes to ensure the effectiveness of their programs, including support for long-term capacity building, with recipient countries taking ownership of the work.

The key messages and policy pointers from the report are provided below. Download the full text from the right-hand column for more detail.

Key messages from the report

  • Institutional development and strengthening is a focus of all regimes and weakness in this area can undermine regime effectiveness.
  • Developing human resources through education, training, and research is key to building national capacity.
  • Strong financial support for capacity building can increase member nations’ compliance to regime provisions.
  • National ownership of capacity building efforts is key to their sustainability.
  • Networking, partnerships, and sharing of experiences are important contributors to effectiveness.
  • Web-based tools can improve capacity building.
  • External experts and consultants can inadvertently work against building a nation’s in-country capacity.

Policy Pointers:

  • International and national support through institutions and financing is critical for successful capacity building.
  • Capacity building must be designed to be long-term and self-sustaining.
  • National ownership by recipient countries of capacity building efforts is key to ensuring their success.
  • Education, training, and awareness-building on human rights is central to sustaining long-term capacity building.