Rethinking climate governance


By Surveyor Efik

From all indications, it is crystal clear that the world is earnestly yearning for best practice in climate governance, thus unfolding global developments have led to a trend of rethinking climate governance with a view to improving or advancing the performance on climate actions to actualize the goals of Paris Agreement and by extension, that of the other related instruments such as 70th United Nations General Assembly resolution tagged “Transforming our world;  the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, in particular its goal 13; the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development and the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. By climate governance it is defined by Prof. Katrien Termeer of the Wageningen University as “the (inter)actions between public and/or private entities ultimately aiming at the realization of collective goals”. This was one of the focus areas of the 2016 Global Gathering on Climate Action (GG16) 5-7 December 2016, which the World Resources Institute (WRI) convened back-to-back with the 2016 Open Government Partnership (OGP16) Summit 7-9 December, both in Paris, France.

A cursory look into Paris Agreement and Marrakesh Partnership for Global Climate Action, including the Marrakesh Action Proclamation for our Climate and Sustainable Development – will reveal not only a generic commitment to an all-inclusive; all-hands-on-deck’ climate governance but also that which is supported and benefited by all stakeholders (Parties and Non-Parties).  This no doubt contributed to setting the trend for rethinking, redefining and reshaping climate governance. Today, there is global wave of rethinking climate governance in order to reshape its meaning to reflect both its democratic and responsive context. The breeding ground for it was Paris through the recently concluded #GG16 and the #OGP16, mentioned above.

One of the factors that further triggered the momentum for rethinking climate governance is the inclusion of climate and sustainable development into the OGP agenda, which has brought about the need to make climate governance not only inclusive and participatory but also open, transparent and accountable in order to eliminate the vicious “anti-development virus” known as corruption and increase the momentum of climate actions vis-à-vis accruable benefits to all stakeholders. This is a new dimension in climate change development that actually gave birth to the term “Rethinking Climate Governance” by WRI, and has actually aroused the thoughts of many climate actors, including mine. The inclusion marked a paradigm shift that has brought about a new dimension of defining climate governance and a new era of related best practices.

In defining climate governance along the rethinking paradigm, the GG16 organized by the WRI and other global partners such as The Access Initiative (TAI), Transparency International (TI), Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) to mention just few; provided the platform for rethinking aloud the redefinition of climate governance. One of the activities at the GG16 was the Social Media Photo Campaign in which every participant sent in his or her photo with respective definition of climate governance. In my aroused thought, I defined it as “An open, transparent, accountable and inclusive climate action driven by all stakeholders, for all stakeholders”. This means an inclusive partnership over an action or decision that will save the climate and be in the interest of all partners.

The practice of this new definition of climate governance is displayed by OGP governance structure, where there is 22-member Steering Committee that comprises of equal balance of governments and civil society representatives, with two Governments (France and Georgia) and two civil society(WRI and ODAC)  representatives constituting the Co-Chairs. This is a classical example of Parties and Non-Parties partnership/governance framework that should be replicated at the national level of all OGP-member countries, especially in their project implementation process.  Another best practice in climate governance was displayed in this year’s Marrakesh Climate Change Summit, in which the Moroccan Government’s partnership with the civil society in Africa and across the world stands out as an exemplary feat of commendation that is worth emulating.

There is yet another outstanding best practice in climate governance, which places priority on climate action that is supported and benefited by the citizens and general public (all stakeholders). It is the French Government’s climate action of declaring all public transport operated by Government free for all citizens and non-citizens in France for one week (5-9 December 2016, the week of the OGP Summit) in order to reduce the observed soot/carbon emissions from vehicles that polluted French the atmosphere. The benefits include; improved air quality, safer streets, and poverty alleviation.  According to global statistics, transport records 22% of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) worldwide. Thus, I paused here to imagine; if all the countries of the World could take such low-carbon transport measure for one week, indeed, a huge emissions reduction will not only be recorded but also an outburst of multiple environmental, economic and social development benefits to all stakeholders in way that will erupt a global mass action to win the fight against climate change and makes Donald Trump’s apathy towards it pale into insignificance.

Meanwhile, it may be interesting to note that the global wave of OGP initiative is resonating and trickling down to the grassroots. A global gathering of “OGP for Cities” is coming up in Madrid, Spain early 2017, where open, transparent and accountable governance in the area of fiscal openness and open data will be the focus. The URAIA Platform of the UN-Habitat in partnership with the Spanish Federation of Municipalities (FEMP), will be holding an international workshop on “Transparent and accountable cities: innovative solutions for municipal management and finance”, from 8-10 February 2017. This is another global demonstration of top-down development trajectory that will further set the pace for rethinking urban/local government governance, including its climate governance agenda. 

In conclusion, the basic elements in the climate governance is in the phrase that I underlined below in the first statement of the Marrakesh Partnership for Global Climate Action of COP22, which states as follows: “The Marrakech call is loud and clear: nothing can stop global climate action. The momentum for the adoption of the Paris Agreement was enabled by Parties and non-Parties stakeholders taking action to address climate change and undertaking to progressively enhance the ambition of this action”. This should be the guiding principle that ought to be reflected in all our climate solution actions at all levels.

Finally, it is worth noting that the unfolding best practices enumerated above are indications of good and sustainable progress, which in reality, re-enforces an audacity of hope in the global pursuit of giving climate change a supine fall in the near future. I crave for governments of all national, sub-national and local levels to emulate it, especially the African nations. The Heads of State/Government of both developed and developing countries should endeavor to incorporate climate governance practice into the implementation process of their respective UNFCCC obligations and voluntary NDCs through promoting climate transparency and integrity in line with the OGP framework.

Efik is the National Coordinator of Climate Change Network Nigeria.