Turning pledges to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change into real action poses a complex and daunting challenge. The challenges become even more pronounced once the discussion moves into the logistical nature of planning and implementing these actions. A recent workshop I attended shed light on the various challenges countries face in terms of establishing effective governance and information-sharing structures across sectors and vertically, between national and sub-national governments.
I was intrigued by the workshop’s highly interactive methodology called “prototyping”. The excercise immersed participants in focus group discussions and peer-to-peer consultations to identify common challenges and practical solutions for climate governance and transparency frameworks. These exercises seem to have inspired a number of new actions among participants.
For instance, prior to the workshop, Ms. Elizabeth Ouma, a Policy Advisor at Kenya’s State Department of Devolution, had not been very involved in the climate change debate in Kenya. Yet, her experience working with sub-national governments brought valuable insights to the discussion.
“There is something about the approach used in the workshop that makes you understand that there are always linkages with spheres outside of your area of expertise if you care to listen, care to interrogate and speak with others,” she said.
The discussions gave Ms. Ouma a new appreciation as to what the Department of Devolution could do to bring Kenya’s county governments into the fold of action on climate pledges or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which each country submitted for the Paris Agreement in 2015.
“I know for sure that the environment and climate discussion has not yet happened at the sub-national level, and this gives me an opportunity to go back to start the conversation. We clearly need to look at the integration of the NDC targets and the NDC process into our development planning. We have to look at the integration of that through the multi-level, two-tier planning system that we have developed and more importantly, see how to strengthen our monitoring, reporting and verification system to make sure that all levels are able to report in the manner that allows for the aggregation of our emissions data for us to understand whether we are meeting our NDC targets,” she continued.
By the end of the two-and-a-half-day gathering, 11 actionable solutions – referred to as “approaches” in the prototyping methodology – were developed, of which six were selected by the group for further elaboration. One approach proposed to create a capacity-building program for sub-national governments to access finance, while another suggested to advocate for climate action at the grassroot level in order to drive action at the national level. By the end of the workshop, some participants from national governments and international organizations were already expressing interest in piloting the approaches in their respective programs.
Ms. Jisun Hwang, Senior Climate Advocacy and Policy Officer at Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), has been working on vertical integration – meaning coordination from national to sub-national level – and was already seeing how several of the approaches could be embedded in the Urban Low Emission Development Strategies (Urban-LEDS) project, which is being implemented by ICLEI and UN-Habitat.
“Three approaches developed in the workshop were particularly interesting to me. The first one is the national coordination platform. We already have different projects that are going on in-country and all of them have a vertical integration element. The platform idea will facilitate multi-level policy dialogue. That is one concrete idea that I am definitely going to take to my colleagues,” she explained.
“The second approach that I found quite useful is the vertical integration tool, which will be a repository of lessons learned and best practices. I see value in developing it further with ICLEI’s own knowledge products and projects. It can be a nice capacity-building tool. The final approach I would take forward within my own work is the one on advocacy for leadership. We already established collaborative relations with UNFCCC, UN-Habitat, as well as COP 23 President and Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, so we see value for these high-level people advocating for the Paris Agreement implementation because that sends a strong signal to national governments and sets the tone for sub-national governments to actually get the cue from the leadership,”* she said.
The workshop “Building and Strengthening Climate Transparency and Governance Frameworks at All Levels to Support NDC Implementation” took place in Washington, DC, in June 2018 and was attended by national governments and sub-national government representatives, as well as other development organizations, civil society organizations, and academia. It was co-organized by the UNDP NDC Support Programme, the World Resources Institute (WRI), and GIZ for the IKI NDC Support Cluster.
* A policy brief on this multilevel climate governance approach has been published jointly by ICLEI, GIZ and UN-Habitat.