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  • There is an “adaptation gap” between the amount of resources put into technical approaches to addressing climate change and concrete action
  • The course aimed to increase the capacity of young decision makers in Latin America to mobilise collective action geared towards combating climate change
  • Participants appreciated learning about the human dimension of climate change, and the innovative and multi-faceted teaching methods

Latin American societies are highly dependent on their natural resources and biodiversity for social and ecological well-being as well as economic development. Strategies for land use play a key role in conserving biodiversity, reducing vulnerability, while at the same time contributing significantly to mitigating climate change. However, while there are many initiatives addressing biodiversity conservation and climate change, many have noted the “adaptation gap” between the amount of resources put into technical approaches and concrete action.

Currently, most educational efforts that aim to increase the capacity to conserve biodiversity and natural resources as a way of coping with or mitigating climate change, place a strong emphasis on scientific and technical issues. Furthermore, governance and policy matters are mainly considered under a conventional academic lens.

Innovative and active training

SwedBio supported the Costa Rica-based Latin American Chair of Environmental Decisions for Global Change (CLADA) at the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) to bring together 28 women and men from 16 Latin American countries for a ten-day training course aimed at filling this gap. By adopting an innovative educational approach that combines real-world case visits, classroom reflections, theory and role playing games, the course aimed to change participants’ mindsets about the climate change problem, and to provide them with hands-on and direct experience.

The main goal of the course was to increase the capacity of Latin American decision makers from different backgrounds and knowledge systems to mobilise collective action geared towards combating climate change. Specifically, the objectives were to:

  1. Increase the capacity of actual and potential promoters of climate change initiatives to both understand complexity and, to find effective solutions to complex problems
  2. Increase the participants’ capacity to engage with collective leadership efforts needed to mobilise knowledge towards concrete action



The course used a combination of approaches to promote learning, including:

  • field visits to real-world cases where participants learned from case leaders about processes to overcome barriers and promote mobilisation for ecosystem-based initiatives to combat climate change;
  • role-playing games inspired by real-world cases with small groups of participants;
  • theoretical classes (on leadership, environmental psychology, adaptive governance, complexity and systems thinking analysis) using lectures, plenary discussions and videos;
  • exchange of experiences from participants facing real-world leadership challenges.

The participants appreciated the course content covering the human dimension of climate change, analysing the process of decision-making, and introducing tools for mobilising knowledge that leads to action. They also emphasised the effectiveness of this kind of learning space and multi-faceted teaching methodologies to inspire youth in Latin America, leading to a dissemination of the course outcomes beyond the participants:

Personally, I’ve been through a few youth leadership processes. I’m able to take part in this course today because someone has made an investment in me before. Now, I want to go back and return this investment in these processes for youth leadership” explained a young Guatemalan participant.