By Martins Eke
The role of government in the fight against climate change is to coordinate the process of decision-making, engage stakeholders, ensure accountability, maintain positive political will and develop relevant policies that will confront the menace of climate change. The process of stakeholder engagement and policy development should include the Federal Government, state governments, local governments, civil societies, media, environmentalists, organised private sector and indeed all relevant stakeholders. Effective fight against climate change should involve linking the Paris Agreement to reduce carbon emission with the existing effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Nigeria’s commitment in the Paris Agreement is to reduce her carbon emission by 20% unconditionally and 45% conditionally. Goal 7 of the SDGs is on clean and affordable energy, goal 11 is on sustainable cities and communities, goal 13 is on climate action. Even goals 6, 14, 15 of the SDGs also has bearing on the fight against climate change. It is, therefore, the duty of the government to harness the potential in the synergy of implementation of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. The government needs to make a categorical decision whether the fight against climate change will be implemented with existing structures or a new structure will need to be created. However, the structure must be within the government. It is very necessary to seek gender balance in the structure since the women folk are more susceptible to the effects of climate change than their male counterparts.
A review of how Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the fight against climate change was developed is necessary as this will ease the process of appropriately prioritising aspects of the fight against climate change. A review of the existing governance landscape should also be done. Key national and sectoral low-emission development strategies will have to be reviewed to be in line with Nigeria’s commitment at the Paris Agreement. The extent to which existing structures support climate change mitigation and adaptation needs to be defined. Also, the extent to which the NDC either collates what is on ground or sets new goals needs to be defined. The institutional arrangements to fight climate change across the 36 states and local government areas need to be defined. There should also be synergy between key government ministries, departments and agencies. This should include sharing information relevant to NDC implementation and coordination on cross cutting issues. These responsibilities should be documented within legislation to provide the maximum mandate or could be in form of publicly available written statements. Resources should also be provided to support NDC implementation. This should include budgeting for the central climate change structure, state governments, local governments, ministries, departments and agencies to carry out their functions. Budgeting for NDC implementation should also be mainstreamed into the medium term expenditure framework which is a three-year national financial plan.
Capacity building is also necessary for those that will implement the NDC.Thereis need to identify existing capacity across government institutions and then develop support programmes to build capacity. This should include building expertise for using appropriate tools, charts and risk registers; understanding the Paris Agreement and developments at international climate negotiations; understanding wider government policy, economic and development plans as well as sector all master plans; diverse partnerships in order to manage needs across government and non-governmental stakeholders; capacity building on gender mainstreaming for implementing MDAs; more coordinated work across key ministries to drive national climate agenda. There is also need to improve institutional memory. This involves establishing processes that will retain knowledge within institutions such as robust archiving of data, recording of decisions taken as well as the justification for taking them. Legal frameworks for NDC implementation should also be developed. The legal framework would strengthen the political will and formalise governance processes. The legal framework will provide long term mitigation and adaptation targets to guide discussions about ambition; powers to obtain information or data relevant to climate policy; powers to make secondary legislations to achieve climate actions; a clear definition of the roles and responsibilities of government MDAs as well as the mandate of the central climate structure.