Climate change policies and implementation issues: lessons to be learned from South Asia

  • Date

    Fri 9 Dec 22

the back of a man in India looking out at fields and water

Can public investment policies integrate climate change and livelihood?

This is the question being addressed by a team of researchers from the University of Essex, who have been looking into how climate change policies are being implemented in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

The study, by a team from Essex Business School, reveals that the gap between the national-level climate change policies and the level of implementation at local levels appears to be widening in these countries.

The voices of local communities and vulnerable groups were found to be primarily unheard in developing policies and setting priorities, which is a significant concern.

From the findings, the team urge the governments in each country to set up mechanisms to ensure that centrally allocated climate change budgets reach the grassroots level as well as vulnerable and marginalised communities. Reviewing existing or potential incentive systems in the three countries would also enhance the climate response at the sub-national level.

Lead researcher, Dr Bedanand Upadhaya, said: “All three countries have clear national climate change investment priorities in line with their nationally determined contributions. However, the gap between the national level climate change policies and the level of implementation at local levels appears to be widening.

“Community participation in planning and implementing climate investment priorities appears limited.”

The report, 'Integrating Climate Change and Livelihood within Public Investment Policies: A Cross-Country Assessment in South Asia (India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka)', outlines several issues which need to be addressed, including strengthening capabilities, which emerged as more concerning than availability of funds.

The key recommendations of the report are:

• Climate change-related policies and priorities must be effectively disseminated to local government authorities to achieve the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) targets and address climate change impact

• As the majority of the population in these three countries depends on agriculture for survival, sustainable agriculture should also be prioritised for future public investments

• Regarding access to climate finance, there is potential in all three countries to tap into private sector investment for climate change-related areas

• Appropriate measures should be put in place in each country to scrutinise the reporting, performance evaluation and monitoring of climate change-related budget and investment

• In the context of tight fiscal positions, increasing debt, and limited external funding, governments will have to use domestic resources to finance climate-friendly investments.

The team from Essex, who are all members of the Centre for Accountability and Global Development (CAGD) – including Dr Chaminda Wijethilake, Professor Pawan Adhikari, Professor Kelum Jayasinghe, and Professor Thankom Arun – recently presented their paper at a global webinar organised by the Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) program and the World Bank.

PEFA builds on the principles of the strengthened approach to supporting public financial management reform and is supported by the European Commission, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the governments of France, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

A statement from the team said: “One of the biggest challenges in aligning public financial management systems to climate change is that national level priorities do not percolate to local level.

“We need an integrated approach across all levels of government to deal with climate change through public financial management systems.”