Multilevel climate governance: A hot topic for the next decade

The Talanoa Dialogue launched at COP23, the 23rd United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2017, is designed to take stock of and strengthen climate action globally. It also opens the door to a more inclusive and collaborative approach to climate governance by connecting nations and climate stakeholders.

The Cities and Regions Talanoa Dialogues, facilitated by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, are contributing to this process by convening local, regional and national governments for critical discussions on how to strengthen climate action at all levels, from global to local.

The Cities and Regions Talanoa Dialogues are a bottom-up, proactive response by local and regional governments that answers the call for integrated action and engagement in the Paris Climate Agreement and the Bonn-Fiji Commitment adopted at the Climate Summit of Local and Regional Leaders at COP23.

National governments have made their climate commitments – from the Paris Climate Agreement to the Sustainable Development Goals – and they are continuously working to track progress. Local and regional governments have also made their own commitments, from the 2011 Durban Adaptation Charter and the Bonn-Fiji Commitment.

So, how can these actors best work together to advance their respective commitments? How can they link urban and climate policy? These are crucial questions that the Cities and Regions Talanoa Dialogues aim to answer.

For Maryke van Staden, Director of the carbonn Center and Low Carbon Cities Program Manager at the ICLEI World Secretariat, the Talanoa Dialogues give way to exploration across ministries and levels of government as they look at structures and processes, modes of communication and different ways of working together to strengthen climate action.

Nidhi Mittal, a UK-based urban resilience and climate change specialist speaking at Resilient Cities 2018, argues that the issue is not a lack of tools and frameworks but a process for integrated implementation that cuts across development priorities and government levels. She argues that individual cities and nations are currently working in parallel to map and integrate the global development frameworks and now, through multilevel governance, these separate processes should come together.

To work towards more integrated multilevel governance, Mittal calls for coherence, coordination and cooperation, citing coordinated investment, peer-to-peer networking and integrated reporting as strategies to promote more effective multilevel collaboration. One key integrated reporting tool bridging local, regional and national action is the ICLEI-managed carbonn Climate Registry.

Each country working towards a multilevel governance approach provides a unique example of structures in place that could be modified or leveraged to enable multilevel action. In Indonesia, for example, there is no national climate change strategy or mandate from national governments for local governments to focus on climate adaptation. Within the national government, climate change is also siloed, which does not reflect the realities of integrated sustainability planning on the ground. The Directorate of Climate Change is situated within the Ministry of Environment and is not given significant importance at the highest levels. In contrast, in the Philippines, the Climate Change Commission works directly under the Office of the President and there is a national framework strategy on climate change for 2010 to 2022.

The City of Jakarta, Indonesia is working towards a model of collaborative governance despite significant challenges. Growing and urbanizing rapidly, the greater Jakarta area is home to approximately 30 million people. Oswar Mungkasa, Deputy Governor for Spatial Plan and Environment, shared that the area suffers from a stratified and fragmented governance withing a complex governmental system that combines governors and mayors across diverse municipalities that make up the greater Jakarta area.

In order to address these challenges, collaborative governance brings diverse stakeholders from government, the private sector and civil society to identify the policy problem, hold open forums and discussions and aims to ultimately build consensus which forms the foundation for new policies and solutions. This is a potential replicable, bottom-up model of multilevel climate governance.

In South Africa, government is organized in spheres rather than levels, suggesting parity and horizontal collaboration rather than a top-down structure. As Rebecca Cameron, Professional Officer for Climate Change, Energy and Resilience at ICLEI Africa noted, ultimately, integrating approaches across spheres and sectors is dependent on building trust and relationships.

From these varied examples we see that there is not one solution but each country is crafting good practices that are specific to their circumstances. Actors engaged in Cities and Regions Talanoa Dialogues are working across spheres and levels of government in-country to help develop locally sourced solutions that bring together urban and climate perspectives and create space for collaborative climate action.

This post is based on the Multilevel governance to enhance integrated climate action session at Resilient Cities 2018.


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