While sub-Saharan least developed countries (LDCs) are highly exposed to climate change, they often lack the know-how that is necessary to adequately address climate risks. One reason for this is that most climate-related information for these countries is fragmented or only available in English. To address this knowledge gap and establish a scientific basis for the National Adaptation Plan (NAP), Benin (with financial support from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) as part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI)) has launched the Support Project for Science-based National Adaptation Planning (PAS-PNA, for its French acronym). The PAS-PNA project supports government and scientific actors in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the NAP, and collaborates with actors from civil society and the private sector to that end.
The cross-sectoral implementation of a scientific and participatory approach to national adaptation planning in Benin relies to an important degree on so-called environmental cells (EC). Established in Benin in 2001, the cells play an important role in the participatory process of NAP preparation in Benin. They have been established as focal points for environmental issues including issues relating to climate change in Benin´s different ministries (such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries or the Ministry of Health) and allow for institutionalised horizontal coordination and discussion of relevant issues. As such, they help to integrate environmental and climate change adaptation dimensions into strategic and planning documents as well as projects and programmes of different sectors.
As part of the PAS-PNA project, the environmental cells inter alia provide support in the development of vulnerability studies, conduct environmental assessments, facilitate capacity building of key sectoral actors and strengthen sector planning instruments.
The environmental cells constitute a good practice as they foster strong inter-sectoral coordination, adopt an innovative and science-based approach, and engage various stakeholders in the context of the PAS-PNA project.