Capacity buiding just simply means supporting the training and providing of tools , knowledge and experience to help those benefiting from capacity building programs to develop the ability to achieve measurable and sustainable results. When we talk about capacity building in the Pacific we mean, strengthening the human, scientific, technological, organisational, and institutional and resource capabilities, skills, and management competencies and abilities of people and communities so they can overcome, solve and professionally manage their own development issues like waste management and climate change adaptation planning, resource preservation, diabetes prevention and so forth.
The UNDP defines capacity building or capacity development as a long-term continual process of development that involves all stakeholders; including ministries, local authorities, non-governmental organizations, professionals, community members, academics and more. This is also how Ecologically Sustainable Deelopment can only come about - by a sustained all of community approach. As Sustainable Sevelopment is our development approach and goal, capacity building is the means of acheiving it, while considering the potential, limits and needs of Pacific Islanders. The UNDP outlines that capacity building takes place on an individual level, an institutional level and the societal level:
- Individual level - Community capacity-building on an individual level requires the development of conditions that allow individual participants to build and enhance knowledge and skills. It also calls for the establishment of conditions that will allow individuals to engage in the "process of learning and adapting to change."
- Institutional level - Community capacity building on an institutional level should involve aiding institutions in developing countries. It should not involve creating new institutions, rather modernising existing institutions and supporting them in forming sound policies, organizational structures, and effective methods of management and revenue control.
- Societal level - Community capacity building at the societal level should support the establishment of a more "interactive public administration that learns equally from its actions and from feedback it receives from the population at large." Community capacity building must be used to develop public administrators that are responsive and accountable.
In this context, at PAA looks at capacity building at the same tiered level - from training one person to become an environmental auditor, to training whole departments in a particluar aspect of waste management, or a whole community on alternatives to plastic shopping bags. We also beleive that using skills available on island with targeted training and supervision, to implement projects and programs is a valuable capacity building tools becasue Islanders are learning by doing.
We practice what we preach when adopting an all of communtiy approach. For example we have used an AusAID Australian Leadership Award Fellowship grant for a pilot program to train environmental auditors in the Paci!c Islands. PAA received numerous applications from waste management departments Pacific wide and selected Kiribati candidate Noketi Karoua, a Pollution Control fficer working for the Ministry of E nvironment, Lands and Agricultural Development (MELAD) in Kiribati to attend a three day Environmental Auditing course sponsored by the University of New South Wales in Sydney. The course gave Noketi internationally recognised environmental auditing skills. Kiribati’s MELAD had identifed organisations on Kiribati which would benefit from the auditing process. The timing of the program was very appropriate for Karoua who would proceed to contaminated land auditing training in New Zealand on his way back to Kiribati.
"The School of Risk and Safely Science, UNSW welcomes the support of AusAID in funding Islanders to att end our short courses on Environmental Management Systems (EMS) and Envir onmental Auditing (EA). The courses dev eloped by the University are tailored to meet current market requirements and equip participants with the required knowledge to set up EMS's and audit them. Experts in Academia and industry are invited to deliver the lectures over the duration of the short courses. It is hoped that the short courses will bene!t the island communities as it will help them in developing and auditing management systems so as to identify environmental impacts resu lting from activities on the islands and properly manage
them. Candidates will apply the knowledge gained by undertaking a major project investigating the application of environmental auditing on their Islands"
Karoua left us with his impressions of the course:
"This course was hugely beneficial for me and my team. Before, we used to just turn up to a place we were going to audit and look around. We didn’t know what we were supposed to be looking for. We didn’t know we could ask the questions that we have to ask. I learnt how to structure, plan and execute an audit and the course provided a wealth of resources that I will use in my future work. Completion of The University of New South Wales course and a professional qualification gives me much greater authority in conducting audits and liaising with clients and will enable me to properly identify and prioritise environmental risks on Kiribati, thus improving the environment and living conditions for all islanders. The team at PAA really helped make my attendance at the course a big success. "
Our Goal - to help create a legion of trained environmental auditors around the Pacific Islands
We are currently developing a similar training program to train Islanders in Climate Change Adaptation Planning.