Exploring power and procedural justice within Climate-Compatible Development project design: whose priorities are being considered?

Produced as part of the Understanding green growth and climate-compatible development CCCEP research programme theme

Climate-Compatible Development (CCD) is gaining traction as a conceptual framework for mainstreaming climate change mitigation and adaptation within development efforts. Understanding whether and how CCD design processes reconcile the preferences of different stakeholders operating across global, national and local scales is important for revealing: how the concept contends with patterns of socio-cultural and political oppression which cause patterns of development and; if it is being used instrumentally. However, the literature has yet to explore who is ‘driving’ CCD design. We address this research gap by exploring procedural justice and power within the design of two donor-funded projects that pursue CCD triple-wins in Malawi. Household surveys, semi-structured interviews and documentary material were analysed using a framework developed to evaluate procedural justice and its links to power in CCD.

Findings show that donor agencies are driving design processes and involving other stakeholders selectively. Local people’s participation has been particularly constrained. Whilst considerable overlap existed between stakeholders’ ‘revealed’ priorities for CCD, invisible power dynamics encourage the suppression of ‘true’ preferences, which betrays the benefits of knowledge co-production. Visible, hidden and invisible forms of power have created barriers to procedural justice in CCD design. We present four recommendations to help policymakers and practitioners overcome these barriers: 1) put local priorities first; 2) make participatory assessments robust and reflexive; 3) take steps to reconcile different world views; and 4) harness co-production between professional stakeholders.