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Workshop report: Accelerating multilevel governance and NDCs in Asia

This report provides an overview of the workshop on ‘Multilevel Governance and the NDCs in Asia – Accelerating Subnational Implementation and Raising National Ambitions’, organized by the Asia LEDS Partnership and LEDS GP Subnational Integration Working Group

On 23 June 2017, LEDS GP members from Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Philippines and Vietnam convened in Bangkok for a workshop to share experiences and ideas for improving coordination and vertical integration of effective climate policies into Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and green growth targets. The workshop brought together representatives from national and subnational governments, with the aim of improving communication between levels of government.

East and South East Asia: High emissions growth, high potential for climate solutions

East and South East Asia are among the fastest urbanizing regions in the world. Since 1990, the majority of countries in the region have been rapidly urbanizing without delivering emission reductions. Carbon dioxide emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels and cement production are rising faster than the rate of urban population growth; which again is increasing faster than the rate of national population growth (data link). Policies and governance arrangements will need to shift, to recognize the urgent need for city and subnational leadership to address climate pollution.

Discussions highlighted that many NDCs were produced quickly, with inadequate consultations. Not only are they insufficient to limit climate change to less than 2˚C, but in many cases, the NDCs do not reflect local priorities, capture feasibilities or latent opportunities and did not consider technical, financial or management capacities. In many cases, there is a lack of coherence between countries’ energy sector plans and their NDCs. The NDCs from the majority of developing countries do not yet represent a vision of the country that integrates national and local policies and planning. What is more, business as usual has not been defined in many countries that are relying on the term.

Complex challenges at country level

Speakers from the four participating countries gave presentations – detailed in the report – addressing the following key questions about climate planning and NDC implementation:

  • What are the direct and indirect impacts of climate change in the areas where you work?
  • How was your country’s NDC created? Were subnational governments consulted in the preparation of the NDC? If so, how? If not, why not?
  • Are the national and subnational governments currently working together on the NDC? What is the interaction between them? (vertical and horizontal, e.g. between cities) Is the private sector involved in achieving the NDCs?
  • Who is taking the lead on subnational climate actions and investment? Are there examples of subnational implementation leadership? Where is the most transformational progress happening?
  • Who is monitoring greenhouse gas emissions? National government? Cities? Private sector companies?
  • Have opportunities for collaboration between the NDC and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) been identified? Or between the NDC and national targets under the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction?
  • What is the status of ‘decentralization’ in your country?
  • Are there clear examples of multilevel governance in any sector in your country?
  • What ‘coordination and capacity challenges’ are stunting definition and/or implementation of climate policies/actions? How can/ are these challenges be/ being addressed?

Following the country presentations, participants discussed some of the mechanisms for implementing low emission development strategies (LEDS) through local and national governmental collaboration. Attendees noted that diverse stakeholders need to be involved when implementing LEDS and achieving NDCs. The group took part in an exercise to distinguish the most efficient ways of engaging these stakeholders by estimating their interest in LEDS and gauging their power to help achieve NDCs.

The report outlines key conclusions, including:

  • Decentralizing climate finance can be confusing and difficult for local governments – this requires special support to local governments.
  • Open data and information sharing platforms are important for both achieving the NDCs and raising ambitions. They also improve accountability, political leadership and transparency.
  • Stakeholder support for NDCs is key, and different levels of government have different relationships across stakeholders and authority to mobilize different groups.
  • Coordinated multilevel governance can be an effective way to change socio-cultural behaviors.

Read all the key points from the workshop in the full report: Multilevel Governance and the NDCs in Asia – Accelerating Subnational Implementation and Raising National Ambitions

The Subnational Integration Working Group and Asia LEDS Partnership will liaise with the workshop participants to prepare a white paper that highlights the issues identified in the workshop, and come up with policy recommendations for improving multilevel governance in Asia.

Photo: Le Minh Tuan