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15/3/2013: "Bridging the gap" between the civil society, governments and the business community was one of the key results of the CANSA Conference on Climate Change Issues and Priorities in South Asia - from 18 to 19 February in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

CANSA-bridge-the-gapPolicy makers are often difficult to access and have little time for interaction. It makes it hard for CSOs to contribute with important data to decision making. This is why Climate Action Network South Asia had invited government as well as business people in South Asia to discuss the climate challenges in the region with CANSA civil society membership to discuss the climate change agenda in the region.

It became clear from discussions between the 45 participants at the conference, that lack of knowledge might be one of the reasons. Even policy making bodies are sometimes unaware of the existence of certain CSOs. Speaking in a panel discussion, Mr. Khalid Siddiqui from the Ministry of Climate Change in Pakistan said, "I heard of CANSA only when I received the invitation to attend this event."

Business with a Climate Touch
Stakeholders from the corporate world presented their perspectives on climate policies. Mr. Mansur Ahmed, adviser to FBCCI Bangladesh highlighted that representatives from "the system" face difficulties in seeing the big picture as they are focused on the minute technicalities. He reinforced the need for external perspectives and practical experiences in dealing with different players in the field.

According to the business representatives the main culprits are not necessarily the business community in general. Some of them are making a conscious effort to cut down on their carbon foot print, though they are not from the block of largest income making producers.

Capacity Building for All
Many capacity building projects are targeting the CSOs, but they are not necessarily those most in need of capacity building. As voiced by government representatives, they too need to build capacity to follow negotiations and its evolving process.

"The concepts in climate change negotiations are quite new to us. If we use the term "NAMAs" it is new to many people," Mr. Khalit Siddiqui stated.

"Economic analysis of climate change adaptation process is lacking. If you could provide a knowledge sharing or training on the matter, it will be useful," added Mrs. Nilimini Rangasighe, representative of the Ministry of Environment of Sri Lanka.

Moving Forward Together
"At the regional level, there is a selfishness of the governments which prevents them from going beyond their national interest," said the representative of Ministry of Environment of Bangladesh, Mr. Moshtaq Ahmend highlighting the need for more regional cooperation. "Most of the research is done by civil society, and we need to have coherence, in different parts of the society."

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About the author

profile vosithaVositha Wijenayake is the Southern Voices Regional Facilitator for Asia & Pacific.

A lawyer and a human rights activist from Sri Lanka, Vositha joined Climate Action Network (CAN) South Asia in early 2013 as Advocay and Outreach Officer. Vositha is CAN Leadership Development Program Fellow (2012-) and former Executive Coordinator of the Sri Lankan Youth Climate Action Network (SLYCAN).

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