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19/12/2011: COP 17 in Durban offered a rare opportunity for Southern Voices Capacity network members from all over the world to meet, plan and share experiences. Especially two events brought the network members together; one being the Southern Voices Capacity Building Programme planning meeting on November 30th 2011.

Question from Sherpard Zvigadza ZimbabweAt this meeting, nearly 50 network participants from Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as the their partners in the Climate Capacity Consortium met to share the successes and challenges in the programme. The discussions were aimed at providing inputs and improving the programmes second phase planned to start from July 2012. Among the issues high­lighted by many networks was the need to improve exchange of experiences among the networks to promote mutual learning.

Among the key joint findings was that sharing information at the website and through the newsletter is not sufficient for networks to learn from each other. So for the next phase of the programme, it is recommended to arrange regional and inter­regional meetings, including, suggested by the networks in East Africa, the need for toolkits to guide lobbying and advocacy.

The other great COP 17 event for the Southern Voices programme was the co-hosting of a side-event with Climate Action Network (CAN) International. The event was used to present the first draft version of the report 'Southern Voices on Climate Policy Choices–Analysis and lessons learned from climate change advocacy'

Dr. Hannah Reed from IIED presented the report, which she had edited together with colleagues in the Capacity Strengthening of Least Developed Countries for Adaptation to Climate Change (CLACC) network. The report included examples and case studies brought together by the 20 climate networks in the Southern Voices programme, and their member organizations. Information to order a printed copy of the final report is also on the website, which will be published around April 2012. There will also be summaries available in French and Spanish.

The report shows that civil society plays a key role in holding governments to account on commitments made; pushing for new laws, programmes, policies or strategies; and ensuring that poor and vulnerable people are not forgotten in national policy making, Hannah said.

At the COP17 event, members of Southern Voices also shared experiences. Abdul Saeed from Civil Response Ghana explained how the network had to push the government to ensure that forest users were consulted in the preparation of the national REDD Readiness programme. From Central America, Mónica Lobes Baltodano explained how the Sustainability Watch network had been successful in mobilizing environmen­tal ministers in Central America to demand recognition of the region as vulnerable in the UNFCCC negotiations.

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