Capacity Development

Lessons learned in capacity development

Lessons learned in capacity development by SPREP from 20 years of working with the Pacific Island member countries are summarised as follows:

  • On‐the‐job training is most effective, with regional workshops being the least effective
  • Workshops should be seen as part of the capacity process – i.e. as training events - and not as the entire process
  • Exchanges and attachments are valuable, recognized as such, but not used as much as they should be. Its too easy to take the "workshop" option
  • Internships generally take the person away from their job for too long. Gap filling can be done with professional volunteers.
  • Follow-up to capacity building events is essential.
  • A lot of professionals actually have the technical knowledge but lack the confidence and/or institutional support to deliver. This is where follow-up and support can be most powerful.
  • Achieving conservation benefits is about showing people what success looks like and then supporting them on their own path to achieve it
  • Recognise champions and support them
  • Getting the right people to attend can be difficult – for all sorts of reasons
    1.  These can be for the "right" reasons
      • The country doesn't have enough people to cover all the meetings going on at the same time but wants to be involved and sends whoever they can
    1. More usually they are for the "wrong" reasons
      • Participation is taken by senior staff who are not interested in the subject
      • Participation is delegated down to junior staff not in a position to implement the training, or unlikely to stay in the post long
  • Strategic planning can be very useful, and often the process is more important than the resulting plan
  1. Multi-sector strategic planning helps breakdown organisational barriers
  2. Select the battles you can win
  • Clear institutional strategies are needed, owned by stakeholders, management and staff
  • Effective performance management systems are needed within institutions
  • Weak coordination of projects, activities and training events affects capacity development at all levels (individual, organisational and enabling environment) in the region.