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Climate Governance and Climate Policy in Africa

A: Global Climate Governance and Sustainable Development

Global climate governance was formalized through the UNFCCC in 1992. An outcome of the first earth conference, the emergence of this framework was characterized by shared concerns about the global environment and the need for collaborative efforts to respond to the emerging challenges of Global Environmental Change. The apt title of the 1992 World Summit on Sustainable Development, also referred to as the Rio Earth Summit founding document, “Our Common Future” captured the commonality of the global environmental concerns and the spirit of shared responsibility for the future of the earth. The Rio Principles also reflected and sought to build on the shared concerns. Some of the Rio principles, principally the Precautionary Principle and the Principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR), also became the founding principles of the UNFCCC. 

Since Rio, however, climate governance has increasingly come to be dominated by contestations particularly between developed and developing countries. These contestations are reflected in the struggles over the interpretations of the various provisions of the Convention, the difficulties of constructing binding agreements on many issues such as financing, adaptation, mitigation and technology transfer, and the increasing volatility of subsequent COPs. The impacts of the resultant and rapidly changing global climate governance on Africa needs to be clearly documented, and the implications for the future of African economies and development agendas outlined for policy makers at all levels.

It is important to improve the support that is available to African state and non -state actors in order to enhance the African voice in global climate governance. 2015 will be a particularly significant year for global climate governance, with three key global events taking place during the course of the year. These are the launching of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Hyogo Protocol Summit and the Paris COP 21. The global agreement on SDGs will provide a global articulation of sustainable development in the 21st century. This will clearly overlap with the UNFCCC COP21, Financing for Development and Hyogo Framework (the WCDRR), among other global fora. All of these present concrete opportunities to support the improved integration of African interests into global climate governance.  This work stream seeks to define the practical steps that will be undertaken to encourage sustainable development processes that are mutually reinforcing. These will include:

  • Mapping out each process to identify key moments and specific opportunities to improve alignment. ACPC will proactively anticipate how to make best use of the opportunities presented by these global convenings to achieve positive alignment between the process, and enhance African presence and participation by supporting preparatory processes, providing pertinent science based information, and publicizing African positions.
  • Aligning the narratives of post-2015 and related processes so that they put forward a shared vision of sustainable development. This will be achieved by summarizing the key objectives of each post 2015 process, identifying its implications for Africa’s sustainable development and delivering these to African policy makers through policy briefs. Newspaper and other articles.
  • A key challenge to tracking the impact of governance frameworks is the lack of indicators of progress. ACPC will work towards identifying possible shared measures of progress and ensuring that these are mutually accepted by the main ClimDev partners as well as the beneficiaries of ClimDev (African Governments). ACPC will also support the collection of data that will be useful in improving the implementation of agreed programs and actions. Sharing indicators between different processes can help to improve efficiency in data collection and align implementation efforts.

B: National Climate Policies and Climate Governance

The global climate governance regime has also conditioned the development of national and regional climate governance frameworks in Africa. In particular, many African governments have produced climate policy frameworks such as NAPAs and NAMAs in line with the dictates of the UNFCCC, but have not implemented them in any meaningful ways, or developed national institutional capacities to respond organically to climate change. Some nations have begun to domesticate their climate responses by allocating budgetary and other resources to climate policy and climate proofing many aspects of national development processes.

There is a need to continue supporting climate governance in Africa and ensuring that sustainable development is based on and incorporates climate strategies. To this end, this program will seek to identify opportunities that exist in existing national policy frameworks to integrate climate change into sustainable development policies and actions, support actions that can demonstrate the viability of such opportunities (such as appropriate technology policies, reforming budgetary process to take account of climate change impacts, integration of climate change considerations into major sectoral policies such as agriculture, transport, urban planning, construction and so on. This will be achieved mostly through the identification of opportunities that are available in climate governance frameworks and translating these into policy briefs as well as other publicity materials in conjunction with the communications work stream of ACPC.

On the other hand, the African positions on the post Kyoto climate agreement are still developing in the lead up to the 2015 COP 21. These positions are in many ways a conglomeration of national development interest, and African negotiators and governments will require logistical and substantive content support to project these positions into the global negotiations. The Governance and Policy work stream will, in coordination with the other work streams, support the African participation in COP21. ACPC will also lead the conceptualization, convening and facilitation of the Africa Pavilion at COP 21.

C. Climate Change, Human Security and Social Inclusion

It has been clearly demonstrated that Africa contributes the least to global warming, suffers the most from climate change, and has the least capacity to adapt to climate impacts. Climate change significantly impacts Africa’s development potential, diminishes the livelihood opportunities of the most marginal of its societies, and creates new challenges for social development on the continent. In response to these rapidly evolving challenges, ACPC will in 2015 develop, in conjunction with the social policy division,  a programmatic focus on human security and social inclusion which will seek to improve the understanding of climate impacts on all aspects of social and economic development on the continent, package climate information to inform policy processes, and assist policy makers with the elaboration of climate strategies that seek to mitigate climate impacts and strengthen national and local adaptation initiatives.  A concept note defining specific interventions and strategies will be developed in the first quarter, followed by a series of working papers and policy briefs, and concluded with targeted engagements with policy makers in specific countries to initiate the development of climate strategies.

D: Cross cutting policy and governance issues

The Climate Policy and Governance work-stream will work with the other work-streams to identify emerging policy and governance issues and translating these into programmatic engagement with RECs, African Governments and other consumers of Climate Information.