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Implementing low emission development

Scott Muller of the Spatial Informatics Group (SIG) coordinates the Subnational Integration Working Group of the LEDS GP. Here, he reports on inspiring initiatives from Colombia and Thailand, where national and subnational champions for low emission development are working together to drive positive change.

The LEDS GP annual event in October 2015 in the Dominican Republic brought together leading national and local government officials and practitioners from around the world to share lessons and strengthen cooperation on climate-resilient low emission development. Members came from governments as well as international institutions, and led the highly interactive format themselves.

The three-day agenda focused on “Financing LEDS and Assessment and Communication of Benefits.”  Among the comprehensive presentations were several technical training sessions, as well as a wealth of most recent information on climate finance shared by the major multi-lateral development banks and the Green Climate Fund.

The Subnational Integration Working Group organized a peer learning session on the “Coordinated and Vertical Integration of LEDS” featuring Carolina Hernandez of Colombia and Pathom Chaiyapruksaton of the Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization. These expert practitioners each shared concrete examples of innovative, practical initiatives that are enhancing and scaling up low emission, climate resilient development in their countries.

As I noted in my opening remarks to the session, effective multi-level governance will be a key attribute in achieving transformative emission reduction targets. This year, the “other” major multilateral agreements on sustainable development and climate change–the post 2015 Development Agenda and the post 2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction – have had strong coordination and vertical integration themes.

Namely, targets for the Millennium Development Goals were achieved in developing countries more often when subnational governments assumed increased responsibilities to foster and accelerate development – in line with national targets and development objectives.  Then, the formal consultations for a post-2015 disaster risk reduction framework repeatedly emphasized the need for stronger linkages between national and local governments and the importance of improved community involvement.  These concerns resulted in clear targets and priorities for subnational action as part of the Sendai Framework.

However, to date, multi-level governance approaches to climate policy and action have been more of a challenge. Carolina and Pathom provided inspiration for how integration can be achieved in the context of low emission development.

Carolina discussed how Colombia’s Ministry of Housing, City and Territorial Development (MINVIVIENDA) has linked adaptation and mitigation policies for integrated urban and rural development to achieve the Republic’s ambitious Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) for submission to the UNFCCC.

She began by sharing Colombia’s challenge: to meet their INDC (greenhouse gas emission reductions of 20% by 2030)—despite the fact that every year from now until 2035, Colombia will grow a city with a population equivalent to Dublin, Ireland (523,000 habitants).  Authorities recognize that this growth drives many changes, such as impacts to human health from urban heat islands or rainfall increasing in urban centers by more than 40%.  This recognition has led to 20 prioritized short term measures and efforts at vertical integration focused on urban development, energy efficiency, sustainable building and information management and competitiveness.  What’s more, Colombia’s approach is cross-cutting, utilizing adaptation and mitigation joint policies that support other national objectives, such as the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, Disaster Risk Reduction commitments and the conservation of biodiversity.

Pathom Chaiyapruksaton from the Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization (Public Organization) (TGOshared Thailand’s voluntary corporate greenhouse gas reporting program, the “Carbon Footprints for Organizations (CFO).”  This web-based greenhouse gas reporting platform demonstrates national model practice for verification and baselining of emissions from sub-national actors.

Ms. Alex Carr of The Climate Registry remarked that this type of program is foundational to a number of climate policy mechanisms and supports both the public and private sectors. “Organizations can make better decisions about reducing emissions and can build capacity ahead of regulation, while governments can build a high-quality data set that will improve national-level reporting and inform future policy making,” she said.

Developed under the auspices of the USAID LEAD program, TGO’s Revised CFO Program (Version 2) includes program-specific reporting and verification guidance as well as a customized online reporting platform. Pathom identified a number of key actors that were critical to the successful development and implementation of the program including; a policy framework and budget for the activities, standardized guidance, constructive stakeholder engagement and partnership, and capacity building efforts among the key users of the program. Challenges included the limited availability of site-specific emission factors, the availability of trained greenhouse gas inventory consultants and verifiers, and concerns about publicly disclosing the greenhouse gas data.

After the comprehensive presentations, participants in the peer learning session organized explored, in depth, how to adapt similar approaches in their countries’ contexts.

All presentations and resources from the 4th annual LEDS GP meeting are available here.

A version of this blog was originally posted on the SIG website here.


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