Local government in climate action

Regan Sapkota,

When we are talking about the most vulnerable country to climate change, Nepal cannot be missed. Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) of Nepal says, “Nepal is very vulnerable to climate change, water induced disasters and hydrometeorological extreme events such as droughts, storms, floods, inundation, landslides, debris flow, soil erosion and avalanches”. To address these issues and to make the country climate resilient, Nepal has made ample policies and reforms. Some of them include; NAPA (2010), Climate Change Policy (2011), Local Adaptation Plan of Action (LAPA), NAPs is ongoing. The government has also implemented few programs with the support of multilateral and bilateral agencies so as to increase climate resiliency. But these programs seem to be nowhere enough at present. As a whole we can say, we are very strong in documenting but the things lacking is the enforcement of the beautiful/smart policies that we have. Here are my 5 solutions that Nepal should opt to enforce the policies we have.

Local government should take a lead

The new constitution of Nepal has given the utmost right to the local government. Fortunately, Nepal is having a local election after almost 2 decades. A massive number of candidates have registered the election with their smart manifestos. Directly or indirectly the manifestos of the candidates talk about making the local government environmentally sound. Thus, if the local government become proactive then they might have a pivotal role to play in decreasing the climatic vulnerability of their respective region. Moreover, local governments can play a huge role in enforcing the national government to implement the policies we have had.

No rhetoric talks but actions

As mentioned above, Nepal has made ample policies to lessen the vulnerability of the country to climate change. But, the things lacking is the proper implementation of the policies. As per my understanding, even if 75% of things mentioned policies are implemented, the problem of Nepal would have been different.

Strengthening institutional governance

For proper coordination mechanisms at the highest political level, Nepal has established Climate Change Council in 2009 under the chairmanship by the then Prime Minister. Unfortunately, those things are only limited on the papers. Even the meeting of climate change council members rarely happens and the council is like living dead. Like so, climate change policy has guided the paths to be climate resilient.  The same policy suggests investing 80% of total climate fund at the local level. But the transparency, accountability of that is always in questions. Thus, to be climate smart we have to give enough priority to establish good governance. Unless we secure good governance in various institutions of the country, the effectiveness of our work is hardly achieved.

Integrated approach

Many organizations are working in Nepal to make it climate resilient, with their own objectives. Many programs related to climate change adaptation and mitigation is already happening across the country, which is good. But, the problem is poor integration among the organizations. This has resulted in unfair in programs/projects allocation, some part/place of the country are having many projects while others which are highly vulnerable are getting nothing. Thus, proper integration among the organization and institutions is required for the effective enforcement of the policy.

Ensuring strong stand for climate justice in International platforms

Nepal is a member of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the focal body of UN for climate change since 1994. Since then, Nepal has been participating in its events like Conference of Parties (CoP). Adding to this, Nepal chaired Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in UNFCCC for two years (2013-14). For the country like Nepal, CoP is the major the platform to stand and claim for climate justice. But the stand of Nepal doesn’t seem to strong enough to urge UNFCCC secretariat to produce a treaty that ensures climate justice. Thus, Nepal should make its stand stronger and clearer in upcoming CoPs.

In a nutshell, the actions taken by Nepal to address the issues of climate change has not been strong enough. Therefore, Nepal should be more proactive to enhance the climate adaptation and mitigation actions. The resilience capacity of local communities should also be enhanced to secure the right of every citizen to live in healthy environment.

-Author is  working with Greenhood Nepal

(It was originally appeared in Annanote.com)

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