1 February 2022

Lunch and Learn: Lessons learnt from UKNIAF pivot to a climate-smart programme

The three lessons in this blog describe how we were able to engineer this transition, keeping our core model in place, retaining our ever important partnerships, continuing to contribute towards our impact, but delivering a different set of tools and processes.

UKNIAF recently transitioned to a climate-smart programme. We had not done this before, and we had no blueprint to follow, so it was an iterative journey littered with abandoned strategies, plans, tools and documents. What better opportunity to stand back, reflect and learn. And so in our most recent Lunch & Learn we shared our experiences of this process, its frustrations and challenges as well as our progress on this journey. The three lessons in this blog describe how we were able to engineer this transition, keeping our core model in place, retaining our ever important partnerships, continuing to contribute towards our impact, but delivering a different set of tools and processes.

Our shift to a climate-smart programme has resulted in significant changes to our scope, most notably a shift away from traditional development outcomes such as poverty alleviation and toward a blended model in which these outcomes are still central but viewed through a climate lens.


Implications on the UKNIAF approach

The UKNIAF model hasn’t changed; we’ve kept our three components – Power, Roads, and Infrastructure Finance – intact. We continue to collaborate with the federal government and its agencies in the infrastructure space, as well as a few states, on each of these components. We also continue to provide technical assistance in a demand-led way. However, the outputs of our model are quite different. As we continue to support the Federal Government of Nigeria’s (FGN) goal of economic growth through the development of climate-smart infrastructure, we now offer a win for both Her Majesty’s Government and the FGN.

Lesson 1: Adaptability

UKNIAF was originally designed as an adaptive programme. We began by researching various models that would assist us in adapting our delivery pathway. Following that, we had internal discussions with our Component Leads, as they were the ones who would take technical ownership of delivering on our International Climate Finance indicators (ICF). Setting these parameters was not only an intellectual process but one that required collaboration with both internal and external stakeholders for them to own the new delivery pathway.

Some important takeaways:

• Be agile in your approach – don’t be afraid to leave behind ideas and plans that no longer fit,
• Ensure your core values are core (!) when assessing the validity of ideas, and

Lesson 2: Stakeholder management

Stakeholder management was an important aspect of our pivot, as we had to engage at various levels of government. Our interaction with the Vice President’s (VP) office was relatively seamless. The HEVP is quite aware of climate change and where Nigeria is heading with the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). Special Advisers to the Ministers played a critical role in this understanding and in facilitating our communication to the Office. They assisted their principals in seeing the value in our new delivery focus.

Our engagement at the mid-level of government was not as smooth. These officials were in the middle of carrying out their MDA’s mandate and were completely focused on it. Their awareness and understanding of the centrality of climate change regarding this mandate was not as well embedded as that of the VP and advisers. It took some effort to communicate that our pivot did to undermine or confuse the MDA mandate, but strengthened it. Once the MDAs were on board, we continued to collaborate to determine the greatest value this type of support could provide in the long run. This included meaningful, long-term growth that could aid Nigeria’s climate awareness and resilience pathway. As we begin to focus on the NDCs and Nigeria’s energy transition plan, MDA leadership are now developing solutions on how to proceed.

Some important takeaways:

  • Collaborate and communicate closely and on an ongoing basis with our partners
  • Being creative in our messaging and patiently delivering the message even when it takes time to be understood by the recipients
  • Backing our proposals with evidence and sharing it in a meaningful way
  • Approaching our new focus as part of our ongoing partnership – this was not a new relationship
  • Sharing the realities about what we could and couldn’t do.

Lesson 3: Strong Delivery Approach
The UKNIAF programme will be measured by the quality of our delivery. Guided by our new logframe, which is ICF-aligned, we are working to achieve the ICF indicator 15 – which is, transformational change within the institutions we support. Our goal is to set in motion a catalytic process that will lead to other transformational changes within the MDAs by the end of our programme.

Some important takeaways:

  • Working with MDAs and the structures they’ve put in place to deliver results while also gathering evidence for those results in a meaningful way.
  • Both parties must agree on the delivery pathway and the quality of evidence, which helps to define what success will look like.
  • Being reflective throughout the design and implementation process, gave sense to our definition of agility within our resource capabilities.
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